The Disconnect Between Buyers and Sellers in Marketing and Advertising

team member

Maarten Albarda

I wanted to talk to you about the art of the deal. No, not that one, but the one in marketing and advertising sales. Over the last few weeks I have had a bunch of meetings and workshops with a diverse groups of sellers, ranging from TV to Radio to CRM. And it struck me that sales people could really do with applying a truth of modern marketing.

I think it is fair to say that marketers have, by and large, learned to place the consumer at the center of their communication plans. Most marketers have moved away from a brand or service centric, or – worse – a campaign centric approach to a strategy that starts with the consumer.

We are seeing marketers figure out customer purchase paths and/or customer journeys which, to nobody’s surprise, look quite different from 5 or 10 years ago.

Marketers are also finding better tech solutions to help them deal with the data needed prior to developing these new customer journey’s, and to benefit from the data that spins off from the consumer centric campaigns they deploy based on these new customer journeys.

Sales people though… not so much. In listening to them, it is very clear that the large majority develop their sales pitch based on the perceived brand or service strengths, rather than having me, the intended buyer, at the center of their pitch.

For example, both the TV and Radio sales teams I worked with were unanimously convinced that their strongest selling points were essentially the same as 20 or 30 years ago, namely reach, impact, brand building ability and so on. And while these arguments are undoubtedly true, they are not the things marketers care about most.

According to research published by OnBrand Magazine in March of this year, the CMO’s top 3 metrics and KPI’s used to determine brand marketing success were:

  1. New customer acquisition (75%)
  2. Social media engagement (72%)
  3. Qualitative feedback from customers (58%)

The stuff that the TV and Radio reps were using as arguments were not even in the CMO’s top 10, and in fact fell into the “Other” grouping which comprised only 9% of respondents.

We can argue at length whether these are the right metrics and KPI’s, but that argument is immaterial because they simply are the right arguments, because the CMO’s say so. And since that is the case, it makes all the sense in the world to build your sales arguments around these criteria and metrics.

It does not mean that your product benefits are not relevant (or perhaps, even “better”) than what the CMO’s are using. But I have always believed that if you can translate what you are trying to sell into something that the other party wants to buy, you stand a much better chance to seal the deal.

Your problem might be a sales slump, an inventory overload or a sales target you are trying to reach. But that is your problem, not the buying party’s problem. If the buyer wants to solve for “New customer acquisition” you should build your argument around how you can deliver that with your amazingly appropriate platform. You will probably find an open mind if you come in with “here is how we can help you deliver your goals” rather than “please listen to why our product/service is so great”. Sales people: put your consumer, your end user, at the heart of your pitch.

We have helped a great number of companies with mapping their big data strategy, their customer journey model, and have helped write RFP’s and managed pitches to find the ideal partners in data, insights and technology. All you have to do is ask below!

[Maarten is a featured contributor to MediaPost, this article was originally published here]

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