I'm continuously amazed by talk of the unfairness of buyers or, in the case of advertising and media, of clients.
It seems salesmen, today, expect buyers to be ‘fair’.
Agencies expects clients to be 'fair'.
It's ridiculous. It's like asking a tiger to be fair to deer.
Buyers and sellers, and, by extension, agencies and clients, are not partners, they are natural enemies.
That's an exaggeration.They are partners in large part; but, when it comes to price and remuneration, they are natural enemies.
One wins when the other loses, it's as simple as that.
And its like the deer is frozen and helpless and waits for the tiger to come in and kill it. The tiger is bigger and stronger and life is unfair and I'm going to die.
It needn't be that way.
I find, in umpteen conversations, the focus on 'fairness', which, to my mind, is an absolute waste of time.
What can you do to make the situation more ‘fair’ to you and, perhaps, loaded ‘unfairly’ in your favour?
For starters, you could do some homework.
Is your offering (whether a magazine, a newspaper, a TV channel, a radio channel, an advertising agency, a media agency, whatever) good, to begin with?
Is it as good as or better than the competition?
To begin with, do you know your own product or offering? Do you know what you stand for? Do you know your competition? Have you defined your competition? Do you know what they stand for?
Do you truly understand the category you operate in? Do you have a decent idea of the environment?
Sadly, in most cases, the answer will be, ‘no’.
For example, if you’re O&M and pitching for a large piece of business, and others in the fray are Law & Kenneth, Metal Communications and Saints & Warriors, do you have a clue how good or otherwise they are?
Do you have an idea of the accounts that they handle, the work they do? Can you name senior executives in the agencies concerned? Do you know where they came from?
In the case of media products, do you know the competition? Do you know where your product scores over theirs and where your product loses?
Do you know?
You can bet your last dollar that your client does. He knows you, he knows how you stack up vis-а-vis your competition, he knows your strengths and your weaknesses.
Unlike you, he’s done all the homework.
And he knows all the buttons he needs to press to squeeze the daylights out of you and beat your rate down.
Which he never could have if you were certain that you were better, that you deserved the price that you quoted, that if the client went to the competition he would get less bang for his buck.
Have you spent time with the client clearly articulating what you are about and why you are better?
Have you done the old, conventional thing – attempted to build a relationship with a prospective client?
Even in an age of hyper-competition and seemingly falling yields and margins, those who go through their sales motions with diligence are, indeed, doing better than those who do not.
The fundamental, of course, is that you have a reasonably good product to begin with.
Too often, the sale fails on this issue itself – the product you are hawking is not up to the mark — and you didn’t even know it.
It’s absolutely no use complaining about the unfairness of the buyer when the buyer sees no reason to even attempt to be fair.
If you roll over and die, or if you leave all flanks open, prepare to be someone’s breakfast.
And blame no one but yourself.