Advertising, Observations

Why do you sales people think you’re bloody neuroscientists?


Bloody news flash: you’re not. Yes, I fully respect the fact that you’ve been in a gazillion sales meetings with clients and therefore (hopefully) know something about what makes them tick and how to get them to buy what you want to sell. But no, you don’t have the full picture. Far from it. Far, far from it. You seem to have no bloody idea that people make all their decisions – small, large, B2C, B2B, private, corporate – using emotion, not fact, as a starting point. In essence, we are feeling animals who think rather than thinking animals who feel. Or as Tim Ambler put it: “When nothing else works, we think”. And Daniel Kahneman even won a Nobel Prize showing just that, for heaven’s sake.

And since you got all this backwards you also have no idea what the role of advertising or other forms of market communication actually is in the context of the sales process. You either hold one of two cosmic misconceptions: you think that a) clients are bloody robots and advertising’s role is to program that robot by means of facts, figures and rational benefits, or that b) clients are bloody robots that can’t be influenced by advertising, base all their decisions on price and personal relationships and for whom advertising is therefore pointless. You seem to think that theirs is an existence taking place in a bloody vacuum, cut off from the rest of the world. You just don’t get that advertising is about tilting people your way by creating familiarity, associations and brand relationships.

You do great work in the field, I’m sure, but if you ever want your job made easier by advertising, here’s my advice to you: Read a bloody book.


6 thoughts on “Why do you sales people think you’re bloody neuroscientists?

  1. Yeah! I bloody second that!!!

    Seriously, sales people should love advertising. And they should want to love to be in client meetings and hear more about the agencies’ ideas and strategies. But they often don’t. And they often don’t like us much. And I think they all wear dull suits, bald heads, shiny watches and talk a good load a crock! (half true). But we really should like each other. A personal tip (that I try to uphold); bi-monthly client meetings key figures (including head of sales and others if needed/suitable) to 1 – stay connected, 2 – stay friends… and 3 – hear from them and share from us.

    And you’ve obviously been in a bloody awful meeting…

  2. What triggered the post was an accumulation of frustration over the years, caused by an endless stream of (sales) people claiming to know how advertising works but in reality having no bloody clue.

    Olle, of course you’re right. It’s a very sensible way to approach the problem. The thing is, though, that I have neither the time nor the inclination to grease a relationship hoping that it will keep their hands away from where they don’t belong. Sorry about that.

  3. Hehe. Don’t keep guns at Åkestam… No, I hear you. And it’s funny Elia, integrated marketing has turned out to be more about integrated advertising with a good mix and media etc, integrated marketing isn’t doing too well in (most) cases.

  4. Keeping the guns at bay, I would then like to bring out the great chainsaw. The purpose of the chainsaw is to cut down walls. Confining practices to “sales”, “advertising”, “product development” and “customer service” needs reformation. None of these practices begin or end anywhere, yet we like to put them into neat little boxes. The walls should come crashing down.

    Taking the brand as example it has elevated itself in organizations to become something for the board. At the same time it has become something magical and unthoucable which alienates itself from the people on the floor. The brand is effectively protected by brand managers, which yet again aims at “protecting” the brand rather than sharing it for co-development. This goes both internally, and externally as there is an idea that a company is in control of it’s brand, while the truth is it’s being co-authored by lots of different people.

    Where does advertising begin and end? Where does sales begin and end? There is no such thing, except in the mind of people, and it is only limiting the organizations full potential.

    Our idea of “advertising” is limiting, as well as “the market”. That is why I prefer to say societing, to encompass the full richness of the company’s participation in society, where it both develops and parasites culture.

    If we were to move the chainsaw inwards the idea of positioning and associations is also based in an era which the customers could be programmed. Basically programming the mind, or metaphorically speaking “BATTLE for the mind”. Associations need to be understood as “meaning” created in a social context. Meaning created through rituals and stories. In which the brand as a story is a strategic question, and not tactical. Focusing on brand relationships is too narrow. More important is how the brand supports customercustomer relationships. Basically the tools we use to define our brands all stem from a modernistic era which can be described as neuro-scientific, individual, and robotic.

    So the chainsaw goes in all directions. Basically cut down all walls, and broaden our perspectives. Sorry for the rant. 🙂

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