It's the Experience, Stupid!

Last month in this space I called out agencies for neglecting their own brand identities and enabling an era of faceless commoditization. Today I'll turn that same lens onto sales organizations. Because mediocrity doesn't break down your door at 2 a.m.; it creeps in on little cat feet.

In my experience working with hundreds of digital sales teams, they routinely overvalue (and over-compare and over-explain) the specifics of their individual ad products and programs. And just as certainly, they undervalue the impact of the total business experience their company provides to customers.

The Drift is proudly underwritten this week by PubMatic, which empowers publishers with one holistic platform to sell advertising more intelligently.

Let's illustrate through a simple test. Suppose that customers were asked to complete the following statements:

"When we work with (your company name here) they always ________ and never __________."

"I always recognize the work of the sales team from (your company) because _____________."

"We would pay a premium to work with (your company) because the _____________ they provide has become irreplaceable."

Were you to field such a survey, I think you'd find two themes. First, most customers would have trouble answering: they're not getting a clear, strong feeling from your company. Even if their feelings toward your organization are generally positive, they're not deep or particularly durable. Second, the answers among customers who could respond would be all over the map. As would the answers of your own people, were you to survey them.

The truth is, we do not achieve organizational personality because we do not strive for it in an organized way. We're not manufacturing a consistently outstanding business experience for customers because we're consistently manufacturing excuses for not doing so. Our business is so fast paced....It's all about the technology....The customers only care about bottom line performance numbers....yada yada yada. If you've been kicking this particular can down the road until now,'re running out of road.

Continually responding to pricing pressure by cutting rates is like selling off pints of your blood. Works OK for a while but it's an unsustainable long term solution. And if you think you're going to simply invent your way out of the corner, that's an even taller order. No, the real solution is right in front of you: Create a customer experience that's transcendent, unique and addictive. A given media planner may or may not put your site on a given plan, but long term, it's the experience that binds one organization to another. And it's a variable that you ultimately control.

A quick call out on behalf of my friends at iMedia: If you or a member of your team are not yet signed up for the upcoming Breakthrough event (October 16-19 at Loew's Lake Las Vegas Resort), you should get hooked up right away. Great senior level customers on site and an extremely conducive atmosphere in which to engage them.