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Selling Adtech in 2024: Shiv Gupta’s Guide to Winning Friends and Influencing Algorithms

Selling adtech in 2024? Strap in, because this isn’t your grandpa’s sales playbook. Gavin Dunaway, the marketing maestro at The Media Trust, scribbled down some golden nuggets during Shiv Gupta’s speech at Programmatic I/O, and we’re here to dish it all out. Shiv Gupta at U of Digital isn’t just about the ABCs—Always Be Closing.

Nope, we’re diving deeper, getting cheekier, and spilling the secrets with a hefty dose of truth. Ready to peddle your adtech wares in the digital Wild West? Buckle up, buttercup, here’s the real dirt.

Spin a Damn Good Yarn

Forget the snooze-fest PowerPoint. Your pitch should be a rollercoaster ride with all the thrills—heroes (your stellar solution), villains (the client’s gnarly problems), and a grand finale where you ride off into the sunset with a signed contract. If your story doesn’t have them on the edge of their seats, you’re doing it wrong. Think less “corporate snoozefest,” more “binge-worthy Netflix drama.”

Imagine this: Instead of droning on with bullet points that put everyone to sleep, you’re weaving a tale so compelling they can’t look away. Your solution is the knight in shining armor, the protagonist that swoops in to save the day. The client’s problems? They’re the fire-breathing dragons wreaking havoc on the kingdom. And your grand solution? It’s the epic showdown where you slay the dragon, save the kingdom, and win the client’s undying loyalty.

Paint vivid pictures with your words. Make your prospect the star of the show, the one who bravely faces down their challenges with your product by their side. Every pitch should have a plot twist that keeps them hooked and a satisfying resolution that leaves them cheering for more. By the end of your tale, they should be practically begging to sign on the dotted line just to see how the story ends.

Think of it this way: if your pitch was a TV show, would they binge it all night or switch to something more interesting after five minutes? Your goal is to make them forget about their emails and deadlines because they’re so engrossed in your narrative. Channel your inner Spielberg and turn your pitch into the next blockbuster hit.

So ditch the pie charts and monotone presentations. Instead, craft a story that’s as dynamic and exciting as the solution you’re offering. Keep them on the edge of their seats, eager for the next chapter, and you’ll not only capture their attention—you’ll capture their business.

Teach, Don’t Preach

Channel your inner Mr. Miyagi. Drop those knowledge bombs that have them nodding along like they’re part of an insider club. Make them feel smarter just for having talked to you. When they walk away thinking, “Damn, I learned something today,” you’ve won half the battle.

Picture this: you’re not just a salesperson, you’re a sensei. Your goal is to enlighten your prospects with wisdom so profound, they’ll feel like they’ve just unlocked the secrets of the universe. But here’s the kicker—do it without making them feel like clueless newbies.

Think of every interaction as a mini-masterclass. Share insights that are so sharp they could cut glass. Drop industry trends, highlight hidden pitfalls, and reveal those golden nuggets of info that only a true expert would know. When they’re furiously jotting down notes or nodding so hard they risk whiplash, you know you’re hitting the mark.

Make them feel like they’re part of an elite group with insider access. You’re not just giving a pitch; you’re imparting wisdom. They should walk away from the conversation with their minds buzzing, thinking, “Wow, that was worth my time.” Your knowledge should be so potent that it’s like a light bulb turning on in their heads, illuminating areas they didn’t even know needed illumination.

But here’s the trick—be subtle about it. No one likes a know-it-all. Weave your insights into the conversation naturally. Let them discover the value you’re providing without feeling like they’re being lectured. You want them to feel empowered, not belittled.

Remember, you’re not just selling a product; you’re selling a partnership built on expertise and trust. When they realize they’ve learned something valuable just from talking to you, they’re more likely to see your product as an extension of that value. And that, my friend, is how you win them over.

So, channel your inner Miyagi. Be the guru they didn’t know they needed. Make them feel like they’ve just had an enlightening conversation with the Yoda of adtech. Because when they walk away smarter, they’re already halfway to signing that contract.

Know When to Say “Nah, I’m Good”

Here’s a shocker: walking away can be a power move. But keep the drama for your mama. No threats, no ultimatums—just a cool, collected “this might not be the right fit” can make them want you more than a cat chasing a laser pointer.

Imagine this: you’re in the middle of a pitch, and things aren’t clicking. Instead of sweating bullets and bending over backward to make the sale, you calmly drop a “maybe this isn’t the right fit.” Watch their eyes widen. Suddenly, you’re the one playing hard to get, and nothing is more tantalizing.

Walking away with grace shows confidence. It says you’re not desperate, that your solution is so good, it doesn’t need to be forced. It flips the script. Now they’re the ones wondering if they’re missing out on something great. It’s the art of playing it cool, like James Dean with a marketing degree.

This move gives you negotiating power. It creates space for them to rethink and often, they’ll come back more interested than ever. It’s like reverse psychology for the corporate world. You’re showing them that you have other prospects, other opportunities, and you’re not just another salesperson groveling for a deal.

In essence, it’s a strategic retreat. By being willing to walk away, you’re positioning yourself as a player with options, someone who’s in demand. And trust me, everyone wants to be on the winning team. So, next time things aren’t aligning, remember: a smooth “this might not be the right fit” can turn the tables in your favor faster than you can say “laser pointer.”

Ditch the Smugness

Nobody likes a know-it-all. Instead of lording your expertise over them, show some empathy. Understand their pain points, commiserate a little, then slide in with how you can make it all better. Be the person who actually gives a damn, not the one who’s just there to close a deal.

Here’s the thing: everyone’s got problems. Your job isn’t to show off how much you know or how amazing your solution is. It’s to genuinely connect with your prospects and make them feel heard. Start by listening—really listening. What keeps them up at night? What hurdles are they facing that make them want to pull their hair out?

Once you’ve got the scoop, don’t just jump straight into “here’s why we’re awesome.” Take a moment to commiserate. “Yeah, I totally get how frustrating that can be.” Show them you’re on their side, not just another salesperson trying to hit a quota.

Then, and only then, do you bring out the big guns. Slide into how your solution can ease their woes. Frame it as a partnership: “Here’s how we can tackle this together.” Make it clear that you’re not just selling a product—you’re offering a lifeline.

Being empathetic means being human. Drop the slick, robotic sales pitch and have a real conversation. Laugh a little, share a story, and show some vulnerability. When you’re genuine, it builds trust. And trust is the currency of sales.

Think of it this way: you’re not just there to close a deal; you’re there to build a relationship. Long-term success in adtech (or any tech, really) comes from being the person who cares enough to understand and solve real problems, not just the person who can regurgitate specs and stats.

So ditch the smugness. Be the empathetic expert who listens first and advises second. Because in the end, people want to do business with someone who cares about their success, not just their wallet. And that’s how you turn prospects into partners and deals into lasting relationships.

Pesach Lattin
Pesach Lattin
Pesach "Pace" Lattin is one of the top experts in interactive advertising, affiliate marketing. Pesach Lattin is known for his dedication to ethics in marketing, and focus on compliance and fraud in the industry, and has written numerous articles for publications from MediaPost, ClickZ, ADOTAS and his own blogs.

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