Monday, February 16, 2009

OnlineSpin: The Buyer Or Seller Inside

Last week Kendall wrote "Four Meaningful Conversations We Might Have."

Paula Lynn wrote in response, "This article should be posted and read every day in all media departments of agencies, clients and media, especially low- to mid-management (the mess in the pots)."

Catherine Ventura wrote "Excellent post, as always, Kendall, particularly the 2nd point.

Wanting to build isn't enough, you have to start laying a foundation, which means choosing where you want to build and starting."

Monday, February 16, 2009
The Buyer Or Seller Inside
By Kendall Allen

The words "buyer" and "seller" can sound ugly --especially when the phrase that turns them is an either/or statement. But one thing is certain these days: Your self-identification -- proclaimed or internalized -- matters.

More than a single ID, it is the co-mingling of the various ways we identify that I believe makes us better. I cringe at the buyer/seller question, as I find it very bald, very falsely black and white. I buy. I sell. Those professions interact. And I do a whole blend of other things to draw and build business. So I really consider myself a developer.

Like many of us, I have been both publisher and agency. My career has been mostly spent on the agency side. I also spent five riotous minutes on the client side. Those minutes were invaluable. And, truth be told, I have a little ivory tower-consultant, freelancer, athlete and country mouse going on inside of me as well. So, when asked if I am a "buyer or seller," I definitely can't give a one-word answer.

We may adopt one ID or the other for the sake of a particular conversation -- or to make a point. But we must realize the dangers of too singularly identifying -- especially in the business of building marketing engagements with client brands and partners. What would happen if we stripped down to a single vantage point as we conducted ourselves? The expression running to standstill comes to mind.

The Benefits of Open ID

As agencies develop and execute programs on behalf of their clients that may require them to buy media -- it is helpful to have sold it or to have someone stationed on the team who has. To deliver as the buyer for your client, it's empowering to understand the seller and his or her drivers in the scenario. This assists development, packaging and, of course, outright negotiation.

Conversely, the best publisher sales professionals I know are client-minded and in the business of developing marketing solutions -- not pricing and peddling turf and widgets. They package and sell things they would value and buy were they the client, with very real marketing goals and media metrics in mind. And they understand what motivates everyone in the equation.

Strategic Selling Outshines Order-taking

We've talked about the roles and value of developers and cooks -- and what can come of powerfully combining the two on teams. But, when it comes to client work in this day and age, it's practically imperative that those actually facing the client see themselves as business developers -- strategic sellers, if you will. Caretaking volume and dutifully shepherding the status quo is client services of yesteryear. Determining the path to the right decision-makers and buying centers; gaining exposure with desired divisions, properties, brands, and products on the client side; understanding the true health and status of where you are; and knowing how to scale to where you want to take things -- these are all practical arts. We are wise to acknowledge both our inner buyer and seller right now, in the spirit of actively developing our relationships and businesses, taking responsibility for the course, and not sitting still.

I wanted to cap these thought with something that struck me last week as just right. Rumor has it Upstream Habitat's Doug Weaver -- someone whose stance on both marketing and professional selling I respect equally -- just said something brilliant. imagine this: "How should you handle the next 100 days in business? Expect nothing. Blame no one. Do something." Such resonance stands alone. But, I would add that one's ID should not.

Kendall Allen is senior vice president of Digital Marketing Services at MKTG, headquartered in New York City. Previously she was managing director of Incognito Digital, LLC, an independent digital media agency and creative studio. She also held top posts at iCrossing and Fathom Online.

Online Spin for Monday, February 16, 2009:

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