"Why Should We Waste Time on Kabuki?"
There's a great scene in the TV show, Mad Men, where Don Draper stands his ground with a client who is stuck in his old ways, clinging to a set of ideas that may have once made his company successful but now leaves them trailing the competition.
After the client rejects his fresh approach to marketing the product, Draper stands up, thanks the client for his time and extends a hand, signaling the end of the meeting. The client is surprised, asking, "Is that all?". And then, the following exchange:
Draper: "You're a non-believer. Why should we waste time on Kabuki?"
Client: "I don't know what that means."
Draper: "It means you've already tried your plan, and you're number 4. You've enlisted my expertise and you've rejected it to go on the way you've been going. I'm not interested in that."
Without a doubt, some of the best lines written for TV. And for the salesman and marketer in all of us, a lesson about believing in what you are selling.
All too often, it's easy to listen to a client's rejection and then backtrack, offering to adjust our offering, reduce the emphasis of our message, shift the nature of our solution to appease them, and move in the direction they want us to. But if we've done our homework in understanding the client's issues, if we've leveraged our expertise about what drives value in their space, if we've thought through what's best for the client, then surely we should stand our ground?
All too often, we are just revenue focused, when we should be value focused. We get caught up in the never ending spiral of bigger is better, more is needed, without regard for the core of who we are and what we do as a business. We begin to make tradeoffs, giving here or there, taking on this and that, when that isn't what we are really about. We end up diffusing our message, our values, and in turn, ourselves.
Why should we waste time on Kabuki?
Do your homework. Understand your audience. Craft your message.
Then deliver it, with belief, with conviction. And if they still don't accept it, despite your best efforts, when it's clear that they don't want to change, walk away.