Does Your Demand Gen Program Make People Unhappy? It Should!

Demand Generation Unhappiness Cultivation Strategy

If you work in demand generation, making people unhappy is your job.

Admittedly, it’s not fun to tell people this at cocktail parties.

An attractive person you want to impress asks: “So what do you do for a living?” You respond: “I make people unhappy.”

They will probably move on to another conversation in a hurry.

But, it’s true, if you work in demand generation, as many of us do at Walker Sands, your job is to make people feel unhappy.

The reason you need to make people unhappy is simple.

In our capitalistic need, nothing is solved, no problem is solved until somebody realizes they have a problem. No pain point, no sale. To get a lead, you need somebody to experience and acknowledge pain. They need to be unhappy enough to want a change.

Neil Rackham Said It Best

There some books on sales that are worth re-reading, even years after they are first published and you’ve given them a first read.

Knowing this to be the case, I picked up Major Account Sales Strategy by Neil Rackham again.

With just a little bit of editing by me to keep it short, here’s what he had to say about making people unhappy:

During the first phase of a purchasing decision, people start to recognize a need for a change. At a certain point, dissatisfaction grows until it reaches a critical mass. When dissatisfaction reaches a sufficient level of intensity or urgency, the account makes a decision to change. The most effective selling strategy during this phase is to uncover discover dissatisfaction in the account and to develop that dissatisfaction.

Rackham goes on to explain that his research finds that the most effective salespeople have some very powerful methods for developing dissatisfaction within their target customer base.

If that’s what makes for an effective salesperson, it’s not a big leap to conclude that effective digital marketing and effective demand gen programs will also try to make a prospective customer as dissatisfied as possible. In other words, learn how to make people unhappy and you are more likely to get a good lead, and a promotion when all those great leads come rolling in.

How to Make People Unhappy with Digital Marketing

At Walker Sands, we sell PR and demand generation programs. If I’m trying to sell you our services, I eventually will have to convince you that we are very good at what we do. But first I need to make you unhappy enough to talk to us.

What might make a company executive unhappy about their incumbent PR agency or demand agency (or in-house team)?

I won’t give away our trade secrets, but, as a former tech company senior executive, I can tell you that I was really pissed when my competitors got great PR coverage and we didn’t. It also really pissed me off when a competitor got a deal and we weren’t even in the mix of companies being considered. It also really got me angry if my outside agencies were taking me for granted and not playing for high score.

Knowing that I’m not alone in thinking this way, I can convince a CEO pretty quickly that their current agencies might need to be replaced, that there’s a much better way to live.

Through smart demand gen programs, I can make them unhappy enough to want the change we’re offering. I don’t feel bad about doing it either, because if they are not doing their job, the other agencies don’t deserve the work. If they are doing their job, then I can’t get the work they already have. This dynamic keeps us all on our toes.

Being Nice and Helpful Is Also an Option

Of course, nobody likes a jerk who just makes you feel unhappy. So I recommend that your demand gen initiatives mix unhappiness cultivation with other tactics.

At Walker Sands, for example, we like to add value through education.

Need help creating a B2B marketing budget? We’ve got a B2B marketing budget template you can use.

Struggling with demand generation? Read our How to Increase B2B Leads by 70% in 90 Days: 4 Digital Tactics for Improving Short-Term Lead Gen white paper.

We’ve gotten tons of leads and tons of business simply by helping people in need. It works!

By helping people to do their jobs well, without asking for anything in return, you position yourself and your organization as a smart and trusted resource.

But try tapping into unhappiness and adding that into the mix of being nice and helpful. Some may caution you against “going negative”, but I guarantee it will improve your lead gen results.

And, why I might ask would anyone call it ” going negative” when you helpfully work with somebody to identify a real pain point that needs to be fixed. I can only think of one scenario where that’s worthy of criticism and I’ll touch on that in the next section.

Making People Unhappy Just to Win a Sale is Pure Evil

I should caution – and it’s a major pet peeve of mine — that the most evil thing you can do is make somebody unhappy by making false allegations and false promises.

I once lost a seven-year-old PR account at Walker Sands because some slick-talking competitor came in and said that we were not getting the client as many cover story placements as they should have gotten.

Trust me, anybody in the PR biz knew this particular client, based on what they did and who they were, was never going to get cover stories at BusinessWeek, Inc, Forbes and places like that. Not going to happen — and not a smart PR strategy either, based on the business objectives.

But this charlatan agency that stole my account assured them that it was possible, signed them up for a year-long contract after making them unhappy enough to ditch us, and then preceded to never deliver on any of their promises.

So I would just warn you that if you work to make people unhappy and you can’t subsequently make them happier, karma will get you. Count on it.

Final Words: Don’t Forget the “Make Them Happy” Bit After the Sale Closes

Remember earlier when my hypothetical attractive person that you wanted to impress walked away from you at the cocktail party when you said your job is to make people unhappy?

Well, the reality is you don’t make people unhappy. You just help them recognize that they should feel happier, and then once they buy from you (assuming you are not a pure-evil charlatan) your organization is going to make them happy.

So, maybe that’s a better reply at the cocktail party: “I temporarily make people aware of their unhappiness and then I take them to the promised land of pleasure and contentment. And I do all of that through demand generation programs and digital marketing.”

Try it. It might work.

I know making other people happy is what makes us happy here at Walker Sands. A client’s sales grow 30 percent in a year. They land a big deal from one of our digital leads or a PR placement. They get acquired. They go public. Our client contact gets promoted and is able to buy a bigger house. All good news. They’re ecstatic. We’re super happy! That’s what great work and great results do for us, and if we have to momentarily get somebody unhappy in order to have the chance to create a lot of new happiness for all parties, so be it.

And, by the way, how happy are you these days? if your agency is not giving you the results they should be, why waste your professional life dealing with their shortcomings? Get in touch with Walker Sands and see how much better things could be. No false promises — we’ll deliver on the results you need.

Ken Gaebler founded Walker Sands as a full-service marketing firm back in 2002 with the goal of creating an exceptional more

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