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Don Draper and the new sales 101

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 6-Mar-2014

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mad men logoIf you ever questioned whether marketers could teach sales people anything about selling, I urge you to watch one of my favourite Don Draper moments. If the video isn’t displayed below in your copy of this email, you can reach it by following this link:

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Don exemplifies the qualities of the modern insight-led sales person. He’s mastered his brief, and he’s determined not to go down the path of least resistance by telling the client what they want to hear or what they already know.

He knows that if he takes that easy path, he’s simply going to sound like all the other agencies that might pitch for the business, and he knows that even if he wins, the project is unlikely to be much fun to work on, and won’t deliver a great outcome for the client, either.

So he displays the courage of his convictions, and is prepared to walk away if the client isn’t prepared to accept his advice. He stands his ground, in part because is confident and comfortable in what he stands for. He is prepared to defend his value, rather than dilute it to accommodate the client’s sense of what they expect or want.

Now, I know this is a dramatization, and a brilliant one at that. But I think the clip offers some pretty useful takeaways for all of us that aspire to be better sales people or better marketers.

I know from personal, shameful experience that it’s sometimes easier to simply go with what the customer thinks they want. But those same experiences have taught me that they almost never result in good outcomes for any of the parties concerned.

Whenever we give in, go with the flow and fail to stand out from the crowd, we put ourselves right in the mix with all the other pitchers of techno-babble, industry-speak and gobbledygook, to the point where we can only differentiate ourselves on price.

If we fail to provoke the customer to think differently, we miss the opportunity to bring real value to the opportunity, and we run the real risk of doing something that results in a mediocre and forgettable outcome.

If we fail to earn the respect of the customer for our expertise, even if we end up winning the deal, we’ll probably end up locked in a loveless marriage with the client in which neither party has much fun or learns a great deal from the experience.

It comes down to choices, doesn’t it? It comes down to whether we’re prepared to do what we believe to be right for both the customer and ourselves, or whether we prefer the cold comfort of expediency.

I’ll leave you with a final thought: how could you engineer a client presentation so that there was a point where you deliberately sought to provoke a reaction that made for a really engaged interaction. Or would you prefer to play Kabuki?

Topics: B2B Marketing, Thought Leaders, Complex Sales