From Middleman to Value Creator: The Necessary Journey
From Middleman to Value Creator: The Necessary Journey
By Buff Parham/Parham & Associates, LLC
It’s no longer a secret that information technology is wiping out middlemen from the transaction chain of a myriad of products and services. “Creative destruction” is the engine of capitalism that constantly eliminates what’s outmoded and replaces it with the latest innovations. Anyone who thinks that this perpetual cycle can be halted is simply wrong—it’s the nature of the most productive economic system that the world has ever known. The real constant in our system is value creation. And even though a particular idea or innovation may be attributed to a corporation or a government, it’s really the individual human beings in those organizations that drive that creation of value.
Being a value creator is the only way to have real job security. For example, there has been a lot written about the changes going on in the world of car dealers. Potential auto buyers are much more informed before they come to the dealership, and the number of visits to consummate the transaction has declined significantly. Many dealerships have reduced the sizes of their sales staffs in response to this significant change in consumer behavior. The salespersons who are still working the floor are making more money off of more transactions, in spite of lower profit margins per vehicle sold. It’s a fair bet that those remaining salespeople have found ways to convey more value to both their customers and their employers in this new information-rich environment. They have taken the time and made the effort to figure out “what’s still missing” in the customer experience that can’t be fulfilled by a website. Their bosses have probably received lots of unsolicited suggestions about how to improve the operation of the dealership in order to maximize unit sales.
Creating value takes considerable time and serious effort. Figuring out where the “gaps” are for both your customers and your employer is not necessarily obvious or easy. But in both cases, it really matters. We all know where doing things the same way and expecting different results leads us to—functional insanity! Taking the time to go through every aspect of your selling process with a magnifying glass will probably turn up some critical opportunities. Becoming a serious student of your customers’ respective businesses will definitely generate some practical ideas that you can share with them. So make the commitment to doing both on a regular and in depth basis. It will certainly be time well spent.
Your value propositions are the logical result of your ongoing reconnaissance. Customers tend to respond positively to value propositions that are very relevant to their particular business issues—and they tend to quickly reject those that don’t seem to have any connection with their needs and objectives. Value propositions also change as business conditions change—keeping yours relevant is just one additional challenge. It’s simply one more reason for you to stay current with the important trends in all of your various customers’ businesses.
“Test drive” your value propositions before sharing them with your customers. Your sales manager or a trusted and respected colleague will probably catch something that you missed or may give you some input that improves the proposition. This is not the time for “pride of authorship.” Seek out as many “second opinions” as you need to refine your message. Also consider role playing the actual presentation to enhance your confidence. Professional athletes spend far more time practicing than they spend playing the actual game. We salespeople should be doing the same!
Let’s all keep moving forward on this important journey!
About the Author:
Digital Media Training is excited to announce the addition of Buff Parham, a widely recognized thought leader and outstanding coach in the media sales and sales management field. With 35 years of sales experience, Buff has worked at Univision, FOX, Belo, ABC and CBS. He started in the mailroom at CBS, but quickly moved on to selling locally at KABC/Los Angeles and nationally for ABC Spot Sales in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. Buff then continued on to spend almost 12 years with Univision, first as General Sales Manager at KUVN/KSTR in Dallas, and then 5 years in New York as SVP/Sales.
Buff believes that hard work matters and that raising the bar and having greater expectations tend to generate greater results. In his spare time, Buff finds cooking and playing golf to be two of the best therapies for a somewhat hectic existence!
Buff will be contributing a new blog article to Digital Media Training once per month about various sales and sale management topics. Stay tuned!
Check out Buff’s Blog www.BuffParham.com
About Molly DePasquale
Molly DePasquale is the Manager of Operations and Sales Training Strategist for DMTraining. She manages the day-to-day business and training operations while helping research and develop new training programs as well as refreshing signature programs to reflect the newest sales trends, technology, and best practices. Molly utilizes her wide-range of skills to create sales and marketing assets focused on delivering value to DMT’s clients. Molly has a passion for learning and leveraging new knowledge and experiences. Outside of DMTraining, Molly is a hard core Pittsburgh sports fan, enjoys staying active by running and golfing, and unwinds by reading and playing the piano.