This is going to be a sensitive write up but we have to do it. It is a Havard Review-style write-up on the changing face of how you engage organizations as you seek to build relationships with them.
In the past, you looked towards a mid or low-level officer to hold your hands, guide you through the maze that is Corporate Nigeria as you seek for that contract, sponsorship, or whatever dealings you would want to have.
Let me use the example I am used to. So the Head of Corporate Communications was the person you targeted.
He was the one that had the budget and the custodian of the institution’s branding and marketing.
He was Lord and he behaved as such. So you did everything very possible to get on his good books, engage him and use him as Your arrowhead as you enter
But today things have changed drastically. The Head of Corporate Communications or marketing as it were is no longer as powerful.
He just sits there and serves as a funnel between what you want and how you get it.
His job is more administrative and in some firms just a poster boy with little or no powers.
Your proposals are binned cos they know they can’t do anything about it. The very professional ones will tell you straight that they do not have the budget or that this is not their focus
But the vast majority will lead you on a wild goose chase, telling u one fib after the other all in a bid not to let you sense their powerlessness or to keep up the appearances
After a robust running around, they simply just stop taking your calls and you hit a dead end.
Many times, when I meet a CEO and complain he looks surprised cos the proposal didn’t even get to him. He sends for it and wonders why it wasn’t approved.
A small illustration. I was talking to the Head of Corporate Comms of a mid-sized bank. He said oh we will deal. Send the proposal, I did.
Three weeks after he can’t find it. Can you send another one? I did he says please send an invoice for N2m. I do and I start media campaigns with their names.
He comes to the venue. Wants a lot of changes and asks for VIP tickets to the amount and then dead end.
He stops taking my calls and his colleague says he didn’t get approval and I wonder why an officer at the level of an AGM didn’t get prior approval before letting me spend money on a wild goose chase.
Wait for it. The MD attends the Play on the invite of a colleague MD and walks up to me,’ Edgar, how come we are not on this. I say na me u dey ask?
He makes his investigations and comes back with apologies. I should come to him directly next time.
So why is the situation like this? Why are the professionals no longer allowed to run the show like their predecessors in the past?
My thinking is capacity. A lot of people at that level do not have the technical skills and capacities to manage the huge budgets that come with the multi-billion naira institutions
So the thing goes up to the Board level. At that point, the Head of Corporate comms is just left at the execution level after the decision has been taken.
A head had once offered me N500k and came back to say he didn’t even get the approval and I wonder you are driving a G-wagon and earning over N4m monthly and you cant sign N500k out of a 500m budget?
So what do you do as a salesman who has a target and an objective to reach?
You simply go to the top. Capture the headman. The MD or Chairman. Go do your pitch there and once you catch the head every other thing falls into place.
This has been my strategy in the last two years and it works. If I cant catch the MD, I catch the ED, and never rarely do I go lower.
If I can’t catch any of those two, I forget that institution. The mental frustration that comes with a low-level staff who cannot even make a decision but will still be running around like a demi-god is what at 52, I cannot tolerate.
The MD or ED are business owners, they understand the value u are bringing to the table and once sold can sign off almost immediately.
But this is truly not the best practice as there must be perfect devolution of authority along professional lines.
So the MD who in most cases would be a banker or a chemist cannot really understand the trends or the dynamics of branding in a complex and highly competitive marketplace
So can you imagine the MD of UBA for example taking a decision that involves Tiwa Savage sex tape?
All he will see is nudity and morality. He may not see the demographic shifts, the analytics behind the issue, or why she is still very popular despite the tape.
The corp comms person will understand but is too weakened to engage his MD on the matter. He will just take instructions and go and sit down after all if he losses his job will Tiwa pay his children’s such fees.
So this is the marketplace of today. Catch the head and every another thing will fall in place
If you follow the lower cadre in most cases, you will end up with pie on your face.
What are your thoughts?
Editor in Chief