Shhh, think before you pitch.


One of the most frustrating things and one of the single biggest time sucks for a marketing professional is sorting through the plethora of marketing solution solicitations. I am writing this to hopefully help a dying sales process in which the tactics are unchanged since the 1950s (or earlier).  So, based on our performance and size, we get solicitations all day long every day (our entire company = fail). I thought it would be best to categorize the solicitations in simplest form, as simply the “do’s and don’ts” of soliciting.


First of all, this is not something I have disclosed before, but I head up marketing for a company called, the largest (online-only) retailer of home-improvement products. We are a Top 100 Internet retailer and a 5-star company based on the grading scale discussed in my last post.


Here is the short list but, trust me, this list could go on and on…




Call me without doing your research.


You at least need to appear to have made an effort to get to know my business before you pick up the phone. I want to hang up immediately if I receive the following opening lines.


“Could you put me in contact with the person who runs your online marketing?”


Really? You do realize that we are an online-ONLY retailer, right?


“Could you put me in contact with who runs your digital marketing?”


What does this even mean? So, traditional marketing is analog?


“Hi, is this Brandon Proctor with Improvement Direct?”


Our company name changed three years ago to Please make the effort to at least type that url ( in your address bar. It forwards you to, just in case you were wondering.


“Hi, I’ve done a competitive analysis of your site and noticed you losing out to many of your competitors.”


I ask them to list our competitors and they name three other sites that are also owned and operated by Seriously?




Your research…


Think of a sales call as an interview. You sure as hell better know who I am and what we do as a company if you plan on calling us offering a solution for $5K/month (or more). You should also have the Top 100 Internet retailer list memorized if you are a salesperson is this industry (if not, this should be grounds for termination). If you use the term digital marketing, then I know you’re a dinosaur. Seriously, is it really digital vs. analog marketing? If you use the term digital, then you probably still own a CRT television, and you probably shouldn’t call me.




Reach out to our President/CEO to introduce marketing solutions


Whether or not you are actually saying it, you are indicating that our CEO has hired so many incompetent individuals that he is unable to let anyone else make decisions. So, you are actually pointing the finger at him for being so incompetent that he was unable to hire anyone with the ability to evaluate solutions and make decisions. He takes offense at this.


Our CEO has even punted me solutions, which I have indicated that we are not interested in due to them not being a fit for our business. I have, on multiple occasions,had salespeople tell me that although I said no, they are going to reach out to my CEO to see if he is interested in the rejected solution. Hmm, I am sure that will go over very well. If I say no, 99.9 times out of a 100 it means no, and if you go back to our CEO, then plan on the email being forwarded back to me. Please don’t waste his time and mine.




Reach out to the person in charge of marketing (me) instead of the guy in-charge of the company (the latter only offends the latter).  Send me an email before calling. If I don’t respond to your email, it means you didn’t offer me anything of value. Try again, and challenge yourself to be more concise. Pay-for-performance aka CPA aka rev-share models are music to my ears. We don’t pay you unless we get paid, which seems like a pretty fair exchange. Think of each marketing solution as an extension of employees. If their performance cannot be measured and ROI cannot be attributed, then you fire the employees. The same should hold true for any marketing initiative. You need to think of yourselves as our employees and determine why I would find you valuable to our organization.  That is what your valuable and concise email should demonstrate.




Ask me to pay for view-through conversions on display ads


I get that these happen, but no one has been able to give me a definitive answer as to what percentage I should pay in order to make the solution profitable for MY business. Why should we go with your display solution if there are competitors who will offer up a revenue-share model on a LAST or LINEAR TOUCH basis. If they can do that and still be in business, then isn’t that an indicator that their solutions are better than yours? It is time to up your game or die trying.




Pitch me on a revenue-share model based on last or linear touch. I am always willing to pay you for direct sales you drive to my bottom line, but I am not willing to pay for view-throughs, since I can’t put view-throughs in my bank account (quote gleaned from a similar quote by David Berman aka Rockstar extraordinaire).




Pitch me on a full-service digital agency


This is probably the only type of full service I would shy away from. Agencies everywhere need to reinvent themselves because their traditional models based on getting a percentage of spend are a failure. This is like money managers who get paid whether they generate a return or not (greatest job ever). I promise that in the arenas of PPC, SEO, CSEs and affiliates, you will learn more from working with us then we will from working with you (the agency). We manage all marketing channels in-house and that will not be changing for the foreseeable future.




So, there really isn’t a do here, since we won’t be using an agency for the duration of my tenure.




Tell me that you have the following Top 100 Internet retailers as clients:


Best Buy, Pac Sun and Dillard’s, because you just told me you have some of the worst-performing and dumbest companies on the planet, which you were able to easily convince to waste money with you. If this is who you consider to be the best in the business, and think that this will impress an online-only retailer, then you are sorely mistaken.




Tell me that you work with smart Internet retailers:


Amazon, Urban Outfitters, Under Armour, Lululemon Athletica and others listed on my last post. Educate yourself; you can often shop a site to gauge whether or not they are succeeding in ecommerce.




Treat me like an online marketing kindergartener.


We are not a BDC (Big Dumb Company (acronym credit – Chris Friedland)). We don’t have non-data-driven traditional marketers who have been repurposed into online roles not knowing anything about this space. We have grown up doing nothing but online marketing and web analytics, so if you have a slide explaining to me what a pixel is, I am going to hang up the phone. Online-only companies don’t need the same education, and we not only find it insulting, but we are also infuriated at the massive waste of time the long-winded presentation presents.




Know your audience and stick to the stuff that means something to data-driven online marketers. You aren’t going to be able to prove your solution via a pretty slideshow lasting 60 minutes that could have taken 10 if you had just talked about the last three slides. I realize that the majority of retailers you are pitching are new to this space, but our oldest executive (our president) is 36 years old, founded the company and coded our front end and back end … welcome to our world. Please don’t waste our time.

…and with that I bid you adieu.