A friend and business colleague invited me for a beer. It’s a recurring theme. We meet, we drink, we talk about the Church of McKee for a while.
I’m familiar with the drinking part. It was being called The Church of McKee that threw me a little.
My friend has considerable experience in corporate sales. For the purposes of this story, let’s call him Gary. Because that’s his name. He has many, many talents including but not limited to selling B2B marketing strategy, and indeed drinking beer. But I value his view on corporate selling because selling B2B marketing at a large corporate enterprise level is a mystic art.
“You’ve built your brand like a religion,” he said.
“Say Whaaa?” I replied in my best bro-speak.
“A religion. The McKee brand’s like a church, innit. You’ve built The Church of McKee and every week the B2B sinners have to come and kneel at the altar and seek forgiveness for being dull, boring, spineless and generally shit.”
“Mmm… Go on.”
“Well, they come to the church, you preach the gospel of McKee and they are all embraced into the loving arms of, eh, you. As long as they’re prepared to drink from the chalice, everything’s groovy. You help them, you teach them, you support them. Their brand marketing improves, their B2B marketing strategies improve – everything improves and the B2B world becomes a better place. The Church of McKee offers solace to all B2B brand marketing souls.”
“There’s no compromise, no middle ground, no negotiation, nothing. You’re inside the Church of McKee or you’re not.”
Gary paused as the third pint took hold. His sentence faded and he let his brain catch up with his mouth.
“Buuuut…” I prompted eventually.
“Fnnnggh… Well… nothing…” he said.
“Come on, you started so you’ll finish – there’s always a ‘but’ – out with it.”
Gary sucked on his pint and reluctantly continued.
“But… you’re totally unforgiving if they don’t, you know, ‘accept the Church of McKee into their lives’. There’s no compromise, no middle ground, no negotiation, nothing. You’re inside the Church of McKee or you’re not. You’re a McKee believer or you’re not.”
“Mmm… Go on.”
“Well, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but have you ever stopped to think that these are some of the largest companies in the world you’re talking to. Maybe you need to back off, be a little more… flexible? Accept that in order to make the sale, there are ‘compromises’ that have to be made.
“If you give them what they want, life is easier. They maintain their slow and lumbering, safe, steady state of predictable continuity. You get paid. The riches of the corporate kingdom of heaven could be yours. You just have to comply. Like everyone else. Can you do that?”
He had a point. Maybe I should just shut up about the importance of creativity. Shut up about differentiating the insipid corporate brand story from all the other insipid corporate brand stories. And while you’re there Scot, just shut up about how large B2B enterprises are so slow to do anything, anything at all. How they can’t attach human emotion to their business message because no one really believes them anymore. Any of them. No one believes them inside the enterprise and no one believes them outside. They’ve all become necessary evils. Just shut up about all of that stuff Scot and take the easy money.
Even in the, ‘Church of McKee’, I admit, it’s a temptation.
Gary sat opposite me with his arms crossed and that smug ‘check-mate’ look on his face and posed the question, “Well Scooter? Can you just back off and let regular business process take its predictable course? Can you Scot? Can you Scot? Can you? Can you, can you, can you Scot…?”
“No my child,” I replied steadily, “I cannot. Now venture forth unto the wilderness with this glass chalice, fill it with beer, and return triumphant that we might declare a miracle.”
And verily, he rose up and transported the chalice to the bar whereupon it was replenished, and the congregation present gave thanks and praise.
Have faith in Beer. It’s the answer more often than you think.