Sanjeev Kotnala: Are media sellers & marketers in sync with changing B2B realities?

10 Aug,2016

By Sanjeev Kotnala


I was reading an article by brand strategist Tony Eades titled ‘Want Better ROI  On Your B2B Marketing Strategy? Ditch The Sales Pipeline And Focus On The Customer’ . It immediately struck a chord with me, and I started reflecting at the scenario in India and the established template in media sales and marketing processes. How dependent media teams are and the largely misunderstood relationship selling?


I agree with Eades when he says ‘You probably don’t need us to tell you that buyer behavior has undergone a revolution over the last few years. Most likely, the media brands have a better track of feeling this change in behavior.


Yes, they have factored the fragmentation of media choices, advent and somewhat soft tsunami of digital and social media. The shift to experiential and BTL activation is huge.


Nevertheless, the story remains the same. Media sales and marketing are like the medical representative outside a specialist doctor. Hopefully, in this case without much of foreign tours, conferences and commission that the honourable profession is now plagued with.


The constant need to have a facetime, opening of uninteresting data loaded intellectually crippled presentations, the need to be making a stake for the share of spacetime and wallet are mostly given as an excuse for the highly lethargic and robotic approach in sales and marketing.


They make rounds of client and agencies for that whiff of an approaching campaign. They are fast to strike. Some of them act like vultures waiting for the kill by others.


Few media houses of repute have been fast to see the change and work with a newly defined skew towards clients. Most fearing backlash from media agencies just dreams of it and fails to take the step.


In India, in traditional and more so print, the final customer is fully in control to demand and dictate price, and the way deals are structured. Sale is having a tough time with many unanswered questions.


Technology is affecting other businesses. The decision-maker is not wanting repeated encounters with the salesperson. However, we find that in media selling, there is a fight for facetime. The need for transparency dictated by the new code of business, and governance is something that is yet to touch the surrounding wall of media deals, in terms of both value and treatment.


There is not much of initiative (other than few publications) for making the media agencies and client fully appreciate their level of engagement and involvement with their audiences. And definitely none of them have utilised the available technology to provide an eased out experience to them, at their time and their convenience. Something they can access at a click of a mouse or blink of an eye.


It is time that mediasellers and marketers find newer ways to engage and impress on to the buyers, planners and clients, the need to be associated with them. This may not come because of numeric advantage. However, a well-researched audience mapping, multimedia leveraging studies, industry papers, is something prescribed for the current times but missing in reality.


The salesperson will still be important and play a pivotal role if s/he is willing to redefine the role to added responsibility of understanding client operations, needs, demands and act as a solution provider. In few cases for it to happen, media houses will have to regain the trust, redefine their reason of existence and recalibrating their responses.


If media brands can be that much sensitive to its B2B customer as they are about the audiences. If they can realign the budgets and their insight mining efforts in this direction, a lot more is possible.


Eades goes on a step further and suggests for B2B businesses a possibility of “merging sales teams with marketing departments, and engages them in the process of B2B customer engagement. Because of their experience in the field, their knowledge of customer pain points and motivations is invaluable, and gives marketers plenty to work with.” I t is not so much of a radical thought. Some of the media companies have partially tried this experiment with some success.


I am not really sure about the way media companies can leverage social media. However, there is a constant need for media brands to use this media. There is a possibility of creating media preferences by justified use of the media, which is beyond credit sharing and self-praise.


Moreover, none of the traditional media companies have really used data analytics and predictive tools to full capabilities. I fear if they have real data captured in a way that it can be mapped and synchronised for analytics.


I agree with his statement “Before we can become truly customer-focused, we need to let go of traditional sales and marketing ideologies, and learn to navigate the world of digital marketing with a holistic mindset. Giving the customer a range of touch points by adopting automated marketing and social into a comprehensive B2B marketing strategy is the way to go if we want to move forward.’” The only area where I doubt its validity for B2B India Media marketing, and sales is about ‘adopting automated marketing’. But then maybe I do not have the wisdom necessary to see that far into the future.


The moot point is simply an often repeated question. Do you think your media sales and marketing efforts have really taken into consideration the tectonic shift in media agency’s buyers, planners and clients?



Sanjeev Kotnala with 28 years of corporate experience is the Founder of Intradia World. A Brand, Marketing & Management Advisor, he focuses on IDEATION (Harvest and Liberate) and INNOVATION (InNoWait) process and workshops. He is also a certified Life & ‘Mid life transition’ coach.Email tweet @s_kotnala web:


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