Out of the Mouths of… Planners, Buyers, and Salespeople

As I mentioned last week, I quite often take part in industry conferences, roundtables, and panels that become buyer/seller shootouts. In the past, it’s always turned into a he-said/she-said situation. People answer questions with questions and don’t hesitate to air dirty laundry. At the iMedia Summit, it was different.

I’m not sure if it’s because of September 11 or the fallout in our industry. All of a sudden, when these groups came together it was, well… nice. Trite as this may seem, it was. It was almost a bit too nice, a bit too Kum Ba Ya. Most of the planners/buyers agreed with one another, as did most of the sellers. How weird is it to see Yahoo and MSN sit next to each other with genuine smiles on their faces?

Of course, we are several years into the online space. We like to think we’ve grown up. I’m not too sure we have, given some things I heard.

I’d like to share some shocking statements I heard from salespeople. Then I’ll share some shockers from planners and buyers. First, the salespeople.

Request for Proposals

  • “I cannot even tell you how many times I get an RFP that lacks necessary information, such as target audience, timeframe, etc.”

  • “My team busted our humps trying to turn around an RFP within 48 hours. The agency never called to tell us why we never made the buy.”

Simple Protocol

  • “I keep trying to find the right point of contact at the agency. No one ever calls me back.”

  • “My boss is hounding me to get into see a particular VP of interactive media. I cannot get in to see this guy.”
  • “There’s still a lot of arrogance out there.”
  • “[Agency X’s] client calls us directly and tells us not to tell the agency. I don’t like being put in this position.”

Foreign Language

  • “I don’t really understand what the role of a planner is.”

  • “Although we’re doing business with this agency on a particular brand, we don’t know much about the brand at all.”
  • “I’m not sure I understand what the tracking and optimization goals of this campaign are.”

Now it’s the planners’ and buyers’ turn.


  • “We never really have the opportunity to create and distribute RFPs anymore.”

  • “I called our rep, then emailed him with my requests. He never got back to me. He’s never around on Fridays.”
  • “The most junior-level inside salesperson is the one who’s submitting the work to us. She has no clue what [So-and-so] and I have been discussing for the past couple of months.”
  • “Why do we have to come up with all the ideas? An RFP isn’t about us placing an order; it’s about us coming together to design a strategy.”

Simple Protocol

  • “There’s been so much churn at this site. I’ve gone through the same introductory meeting with three different people in the past six months.”

  • “I’ve been at the same agency working on the same two accounts for three years now. We’ve gone through 13 reps at [Site X] in that timeframe.”
  • “What the hell is going on with all these ‘category’ sales folks? Can’t we just have one point of contact?”
  • “[Site Y] calls my client directly without even calling us to let us know.”

Foreign Language

  • “I check my messages from the road. I get so many calls from reps that go on and on, talking about their reach, content, etc. Can’t someone leave a simple message with a name, company, title, and contact information?”

  • “Sometimes, I think salespeople are only concerned with making the sale.”
  • “Our campaign got royally screwed up. No one caught it on the site end.”
  • “I don’t think reps know what we need to do with their information and recommendations.”
  • “My schedule is so tight. We’re understaffed. Most days, I can’t even grab lunch. Why would I carve out an hour or more to meet with a site that doesn’t even fit into our active client list?”

By now, I’m sure you get the drift. In looking over the list, I can see some questions, comments, and concerns are one and the same.

Can’t we be proactive rather than reactive? Instead of the dog-and-pony shows, can’t we meet to create a strategy we can pitch to a client or prospect?

Does anyone remember what strategy is?

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