Kristin Djurdjulov, an Emissary and former Senior Director of Digital Marketing at 7-Eleven, gives a buyer’s perspective on what works when building direct brand relationships - and what really doesn’t:
Now that brands are often cutting out the agency middleman and going in-house, adtech and media companies have a unique opportunity to sell directly to brands. As someone who has listened to countless selling stories, I have seen what works and what falls short. As an Emissary, I help companies get in the door - and stay in the room - with the biggest brands in the world. Here are some tips to better understand your prospects, build stronger brand relationships and ultimately close deals faster:
1. Throw out your canned sales pitch – focus on the brand’s specific use case
Whether or not this is a cold call, don’t give your prospect a generic elevator pitch. Instead, be ready with a direct selling story. That means case studies and key opportunities specifically for them they’d be hard-pressed to decline. Focus on solutions, offer them the chance to test at no cost, and whatever you do, don’t try to sell them more than what they need (at least not yet).
2. Proactively compare the competition (and be fair)
Clients will often ask, “Who else is doing what you’re doing, and why should I go with you?” Anticipate this concern; proactively compare the competition and explain why you are stronger or weaker in some areas. Don’t worry about being too candid; if the client needs your mix of services, the weaknesses won’t be an issue.
3. If you’re expecting someone to go for a ride, give them a tailored roadmap
Your prospects want to stand out and be first to market. Don’t rely on them, however, to come up with ideas on how to do this. You should demonstrate to each prospect how the campaign you run for them will promote their unique value proposition.
4. Identify your most innovative clients and work with them to succeed
To optimize your own performance, identify some potential clients that thrive on innovation and approach them with fresh ideas to test that can help both of you advance. It’s at no risk or cost to them, plus it will get your foot in the door for future business - assuming the test is successful, of course.
5. Don’t add unnecessary “value-added features” to justify pricing
No one likes being nickel and dimed, so don’t do it with your prospects. Adding a bunch of features to boost your price point is transparent and your prospect will see right through it. Be upfront and honest; if your product is worth what you’re asking, it will be obvious.
6. Update your pipeline predictions on the buyer’s schedule, not your quarterly goals
There’s nothing more frustrating than a prospect who’s excited about your services ghosts you after the initial meeting. Definitely send a follow-up, but refrain from becoming a stalker (sounds obvious, but it happens more than you’d think). Some questions to ask to get things moving: “When is the best time for us to follow up?” “Are there some planning timelines we should be sensitive to?” “What would be most helpful for you to achieve your immediate goals?”
7. Data is the key to closing the deal
Your prospects look to data to drive efficiency in closing sales, prospecting, retention, geo-targeting and more. Carve out time early in the conversation to discuss how your product or service addresses their needs and present some initial data to contextualize your solution. But don’t dangle your data like a carrot; chances are you aren’t the only game in town. And if you are, it may only be temporary.
8. You don’t know what you don’t know
You will be selling to prospects of all shapes and sizes: some who have spent 25+ years in the same industry who know what they like, and new kids on the block who want to disrupt the current processes. Get in front of both audiences and craft your selling story to appeal to both mindsets so you can establish trust. There are always internal debates during procurement, but it’s important you remain neutral and assume your prospects know things about their business that you don’t.