And Why Would I Do That?

As I've walked sales teams through the marketing food chain in recent workshops - from CMO and brand managers to client side advertising and media execs to agency leaders to planning teams - one thing has become apparent: We have a lot to learn about motivations. While we are awash in statistics and data and all claim to be the agents delivering the best ROI in the world, we're flummoxed when people simply don't end up making the decisions we want them to make...and we have no idea why.

Back in June I wrote about the Aristotelean model of persuasion -- the sequential dynamics by which persuasion can be allowed to take place - so I won't cover that here. Instead, I want to focus today on why the very specific people we try to sell to either will or won't end up doing something (making a buy, making a recommendation, creating an exception for us, considering new information and more.)

First - an aside: The vast majority of sellers go into the vast majority of calls with no clear idea what they actually want to the other person to do. When I ask, I hear things like "I want them to understand" or "I want to educate them" or "make them aware" of something. There must be some gossamer thread that ties these vague, mushy concepts to the ultimate sale, but I can't see it. If you don't know what you want - a decision or action - you almost certainly won't get it.

The Chief Marketing Officer. There's almost always a new CMO. If there isn't there soon will be. Average tenure is just a couple of years and they are often tumultuous. The CMO will make decisions in your favor if they are significant (big deals, big dollars) and if they will help him leave his mark on the business. He's like the Hollywood director who thinks of his body of work across many studios and projects. Keep it interesting, innovative and big. He's got no time for incremental improvement the slow build.

The Client Advertising or Media Executive. We see her as the ultimate client, but she in fact has internal clients of her own. She serves the CMO and her ad or media money rolls up from many individual brands and brand managers. She will make a decision in your favor because it makes her look good to the CMO and brand managers and can be quickly defended based on the numbers. She has to ultimately worry about whether your plan will work or not.

The Agency Leader or Account Lead. These folks worry about three things: Increasing spending by existing clients, preventing those existing clients from straying - either getting a new agency or cutting budgets - and giving their clients innovation and great work while not having to commit much of their own people's time and energy to it. Tie your appeal to these points and you'll have a better chance.

The Media Planner. Yes, I know many of you want to say "because I got him drunk" or "because he loved the designer Nikes" but there's a bit more here. First, understand that there is a limit to the decisions he can even make. He doesn't decide strategy, he can't value the soft qualities of content excellence or brand strength. He works on an assembly line. He'll give you the nod if you keep your request very simple, very clear and costs him no wasted motion or energy.

Make sure you're assigning the appropriate motivations to the decision maker you're seeing. Your life will get a whole lot simpler.