Would Ad Tech Be Better Without The Vendors?

I was fortunate enough to speak to a leading CMO the other day, and it opened my eyes to the problem marketers have with tech. Every other headline will extol the virtues of a platform or tool -- and every other survey pours scorn on marketers that have yet to see the error of their traditional ways and invest in the most modern gizmo. 

Until you have talked with a CMO about the complexities of technology and the sheer deluge of information they are confronted with, it's difficult to see it from their point of view. Once you can see it from their perspective, however, it's enough to make you wonder whether there is a problem in the first place and whether, just sometimes, the tools they are using are sufficient for what they need. It also makes you answer a more fundamental question. When will someone conduct a survey that shows CMOs actually get the technology they're supposed to be buying? They just don't like the way it's being packaged and they particularly don't like the endless phone calls. When will someone put the shoe on the other foot and suggest it's the vendors who are often at fault for why more CMOs are not being a hasty path to their door?

So the feedback I got was that a couple of years ago a CMO would get maybe a call a day, half a dozen perhaps a week. Today they're getting half a dozen or more every day as an eager salesperson tries to push them up their conversion funnel. Not only is it unmanageable, but again, the feedback is that while some are very accomplished at explaining what they have to sell, many are not. Some can patronise with their sales patter and the majority find it hard to grasp that the CMO they're talking to probably knows a lot more about the field than they do. It's that age-old need that salespeople often miss out on -- nature's equation is two ears and one mouth, so always listen twice as hard as you talk. 

The picture that I was opened up to, then, was patronising salespeople who cannot frame what they're selling in normal terms; it always has to have some newfangled description that makes a CMO furrow their brow in confusion. It is not always the case -- there are excellent professionals out there, but it seems they are in danger of being drowned out by the dross.

Top marketing executives have been around long enough to know snake oil when it's presented to them -- and they've been on the end of so many calls that go all around the woods until they realise the other person is actually trying to sell something pretty simple, if only that would be how they explained it.

This has been summed up to me as young salespeople simply trying to sell tools on the basis of their go-faster stripes rather than getting down to detail and show a CMO what their tech can do and how it can be built around their business. The latter point is crucial. In the age of the cloud, there seems to be a step back by some vendors from a personal service. Not everyone wants to tap into the same tools in the same way. They often prefer to have a team come in and build a system around how they operate so it suits them, rather than the other thousands of users who log in to the cloud each day.

This isn't based on a massive survey -- just a conversation that, alongside some others, confirms that it would be useful for researchers to just put the boot on the other foot. Instead of lambasting CMOs for not "getting it" and choosing to stick with what they know best, maybe a survey is needed to look at why this amazing tech is not always selling in the numbers it would if more marketers took the bait on sales calls. 

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