August 07, 2017

Paper People

I'm walking through the lobby of a conference center, and a paper rep stops me. She has something she wants to tell me.
  1. "I guess I don't get to have a career anymore because of the things you say."
She then goes on to tell me what her incentive structure is.
  1. She earns a larger bonus when she gets my clients to spend more money annually on paper.
Do you think that the paper rep is going to evangelize the magic of the Organic Percentage to her client base?

Or do you think the paper rep is going to ask her client base (i.e. you) to spend more money, in spite of what is most profitable for your brand?

This reminds me of a sales rep from Forrester Research, back in 2006. He'd call me once a month and ask me to spend $35,000 on whatever it was he was selling. I'd say "no", that I didn't need his research to tell me what to do. He called and called and called. And I said "no" over and over and over.

Then he stopped calling. I was relieved, but only momentarily. One day I noticed he was in the office of the IT Executive (a person who had overlapping responsibilities to me). He actually got in the building! I told this person that we didn't need his nonsense.

A week later, he's in the office of my boss (Chief Marketing Officer). How'd he get there? I told my boss we didn't need his useless research telling us to promote an omnichannel future.

I thought I quelled the problem.

I was wrong.

The sales rep got to our online division, and got to our credit division. The sales rep got ten Executives in a room and DID NOT INVITE ME ... I got invited because my boss (the CMO) wanted me there because, and I quote, "I (Kevin) would have to implement what the sales rep and the Executives agreed to and I would pay for Forrester's data from my budget." #ohjoy

At this point, the Forrester Sales Rep spewed a ton of what a former boss called "Lizard Logic" - seductive language about omnichannel strategy that sounds right but is useless to the business and only gets the Sales Rep paid.

Why tell these stories?

Because the "sales reps" ... from your paper rep to your printer to your four co-ops to your list agency to your merge/purge vendor to your database vendor to your boutique catalog agency to the USPS ... they all have an incentive to get you to spend more, and they will meet with any Executive at your company until they find the weak Executive, and then they will dive in an exploit that relationship. They are paid to find the weak Executive.

I had a postal employee tell an audience at a conference I spoke at to "ignore what I said, because I didn't have actual research and he had survey research that proved that paper is valuable." Which is fascinating, because I have actual research ... actual data from more than a hundred catalog brands! But the postal employee lied in front of a large audience to get the audience to spend money so that the postal employee could get paid.

Remember this one (click here)? If you are an analyst trying to push a profitable agenda that uses less paper and you share facts with your Executive Team and they don't listen to you ... well ... maybe they are listening, but the paper rep is spending more time with your Executive Team than you are. Since I see this happen all the time, I just thought I'd pass it along, so that you can craft a strategy for getting your Executive Team to do what is right for your company as opposed to what is right for a paper rep.