Log In


Negotiating Executive Expectations

Posted September 27, 2022
Negotiating executive expectations with Mark Raffin

Mark Raffan, Head of Training & Sales at Negotiations Ninja™ joins our host, Camela Thompson, in this episode of the Revenue Marketing Report. Mark shares insights on the core components of successful negotiations and teases out real-life scenarios for negotiations with the executive team.

Mark’s background isn’t in marketing, but rather in sales and procurement. Almost three years ago, he founded the Content Call Out agency which is essentially a B2B content marketing agency. At around the same time, Mark launched the Content Call Out podcast that’s all about B2B content marketing, which was the whole thesis behind launching it. Content Call Out agency has already developed a negotiation training company, utilizing content marketing. Once they had achieved a modicum of success in their own processes, Mark and his team thought they could do this for others too.

Mark’s background, particularly his sales experience places him in a good position to elaborate in detail on today’s topic which is effectively negotiating expectations with the executive team. At the beginning of this chat, Mark outlined what he believes are the core components of any successful negotiation and he even thinks they’re truly timeless.


What are the core components of a successful negotiation?

“What I find super-interesting about marketing and negotiation is they are built on a similar foundation. They’re built on influence and persuasion. What a lot of marketing people do is they almost separate themselves from their job. Their job is to influence and persuade people. But then, for some reason, they forget all the stuff that they’re good at in their own internal lives (within their organization or at home). When we’re trying to influence and persuade internally and get what we need from C-Suite executives, whether it’s timelines, budget, or support, we forget all those influence things that make us good at what we do.

Logos, or Logic

“These aren’t new ideas. They’re really old ideas. Aristotle came up with this stuff over 2 millennia ago when he talked about rhetoric and got into logos, pathos, ethos, and kairos. When we think of it in those fundamental 4 pillars, it’s how I’d like most people in marketing to think. First, there has to be a logos, there has to be logic. When we approach the executive or the C-Suite level person who we need to get something from, there needs to be logic behind whatever it is we are asking for. 

Pathos, or Emotion

Of course, people don’t actually make decisions based on logic. They simply justify their decisions with logic, but make them based on emotions. That’s why pathos must be there.  There has to be an emotional appeal to why we’re asking for that thing. So how is it going to change how that person feels about what you are asking for? To break it down really simply, this will strike a chord with those listeners who are psych majors. Freud talks about pain and pleasure. People make decisions primarily based on the pain they’re trying to avoid or the pleasure they’re trying to gain. When we’re having those internal discussions with our executives, I want people to think very clearly about the pain that ought to be accentuated and help the executives avoid them.

“I’m going to draw attention to a piece of pain they will experience if they fail to make a decision in my favor. For most, that pain equates to the fear of missing out on this opportunity if we don’t do this or we could get this opportunity. Alternatively, if we did this thing that causes pleasure, it will go much deeper. Pain and pleasure are really important when you’re attempting to understand how to emotionally attach to someone or get their emotional attachment to what we’re asking for. Always think about pain and pleasure before you got into the discussion and how you could accentuate it.

Ethos, or Credibility

“Ethos, on its part, is ethical credibility. That’s really your clout internally. What’s your credibility within your organization? How are you driving that forward? What’s your brand? That’s probably our most equal modern term, what’s your personal brand? 

Kairos, or Timing

Lastly, there is kairos which is timing. Your timing has to be appropriate too. Is this the right time to have that conversation or can we leverage creating the right time for this sort of situation? If you can think in those 4 buckets before you go into those conversations, it makes that request much easier.”


What are some real-life examples of these components?

Let’s talk about a scenario. We have a marketing department with very aggressive lead gen goals. The department is interested in getting advanced analytics and attribution to prove that they’re not just impacting lead generation. They’re also helping drive sales over the finishing line. First, they need to convince the CMO that this is a good idea and suits their budget. They either have to choose between going to a couple of events or investing in some kind of direct mail or analytics tool. But what are the things they need to consider as marketers? They’re wasting a week or even a month on spreadsheets and it takes them weeks to get that data to a place every quarter in order to get the reports that everybody wants. Yet, the CMO isn’t compelled by that. Where should they be looking at next?

“The question is how can I get somebody to do this? I’ve already discovered that they really don’t care about me saving a whole week of my time. So that’s part of the persuasion. We could say something that could be part of the logic of why someone would make a decision. The logic is if you make this decision to give us this tool, we save a week of X, Y, Z, number of employees or personal time which equals X dollars.  That’s great!  Very good logic, but no one cares. So why would someone want to make that decision emotionally? What pain could we help them avoid or what pleasure could we help them gain?

“Then let them use logic to justify the decision all day long, who cares, but why? What pain can we help them avoid? What do CMOs really need to do every single quarter in order to maintain a job and get more funding for their organizations?”

We need to prove we’re making the correct decisions and helping the company achieve its goals. Those goals are specifically, first and foremost, bookings and second, pipeline is a leading indicator. That’s what board members care about. 

“And that all comes down to your ability as a CMO to forecast accurately what you think the effect of marketing is going to be on pipeline. So if we know that, then what are we doing there to #1 reduce their fear or pain a person could experience by having that presentation done correctly so we can support them. Show them marketing ops and all the attribution that’s done delivers what that person said they’d do in terms of forecasting and what we’re doing to support that function out or that conversation that person is having in the board meeting. To drive the conversation of predictability and forecasting forward to tell the CMO, you could get to save a week out of each month for this number of employees and this is a cost saving.

“We know they don’t care, but we help them save their job by giving them predictability of data and all that sort of stuff. That’s an entirely different conversation. When you have that conversation, yes, you pitch it. The logic behind this decision is X, Y or Z employee saves a week a month and we get that money.  However, what’s really important is doing this helps you drive predictability. When you go into your boardroom conversations, you should speak intelligently to this forecast and say, marketing drives this value. This also helps you to get out of any awkward conversation you might have with the board and the CEO on how marketing is actually driving dollars for the organization. That’s the real value of making this decision. Now when the CEO hears that conversation, they’re going to say, okay, makes infinite sense! Cool! Let’s have another conversation, what does this look like?

“Now the ethos side of this, the ethical credibility and the kairos side are really important. If you can time, especially kairos, if you can time your conversation to a couple or 3 weeks before the board presentation, it’s going to really help.”


How can Marketing apply this to negotiate expectations with sales?

Mark also circled back to the original scenario which was negotiating expectations with sales.

“First is logos. There’s got to be a logical reason why someone would make an ops software purchase instead of a revenue software purchase. What’s the logic behind it? We can find revenue we might be missing out on within our existing pipeline. Logic. Then, there has to be pathos. There has to be an emotional appeal. If we don’t find this revenue, we’re going to continue exacerbating the problem. It doesn’t matter if we get a new revenue-generating opportunity. This problem will just grow because we know the potential for this already exists.

“So we are going to miss out on a large volume of opportunities. Do we want to miss out on that fear of missing out that’s the pain side of the argument or you can draw them to the pleasure side of it. Look at all the amazing opportunities that we could capture as a result of implementing blah, blah, blah! So the pleasure side of the argument is job security.  Job security is a big deal. Think of the conversation you could have in your next board meeting. When you say, hey! By implementing this tool, we uncovered 30% more opportunities. That’s a different conversation. 

“Then, there’s ethos which is ethical credibility. We really can’t cover that today. However, it’s about ensuring you’ve good credibility within your organization. You’re doing what you said you were going to do. You are delivering consistently. You’re doing your job. You are representing the brand. All that’s really important. Then the last piece is kairos, which is timing that is just making sure you’re having this conversation well ahead of the board meeting, but close enough to it to ensure it will resonate emotionally for that person. 

For more great content on negotiation, listen to the full Revenue Marketing Report episode at the top of the article or anywhere you podcast.

View Our Other Thought Leadership