Who Creates More Value: A Salesperson or A Broker?
By Buff Parham
Parham & Associates, LLC
It's a distinction with a difference that needs your attention.
Our previous columns here have focused on various aspects of creating, refining and transmitting value to our current and potential customers. Those of us who are perceived as salespersons have a huge advantage over those of us who are perceived as merely brokers. We ignore that distinction at our own peril. Why?
Information technology is wiping out brokers with increasing speed.
This is especially true in the brokerage of commodities, and many personal services. If a given commodity and/or service can be boiled down to "just numbers", then computerization inevitably enters the process. Overnight, two or three armed with significant computing power might replace a dozen human brokers. It wasn't that long ago that you had to call a stockbroker to get the current quote for a stock or make a trade--and then technology showed up…in a big way!
A new Oxford University study estimates that as many as 60% of all current jobs could be eliminated by automation!
If the study's conclusion is off by half, that's still 30%--bottom line, technology isn't slowing down and there are very few jobs that won't be affected in some significant way. For those of us in sales, it's time to take an honest (and sometimes difficult) look at our own prospects. That's a huge first step towards insuring not just continued employment, but a productive and satisfying career.
Looking at your own position, how much time do you spend conveying information compared to creating value?
And let's not get those two functions mixed up. Providing your customers with basic information about your product/service is not value creation. Helping them to solve their business problems is value creation. Many auto salespeople have transformed themselves out of necessity, as almost every customer now walks into a dealership well informed about the make and model they have in mind. An auto salesperson must recognize and respect this "educated customer" and close the deal based on benefits that go way beyond what's on the Internet. They probe and then solve any of the customer's problems that may prevent purchase of the vehicle!
Often, you can create value for your customers by empowering them with full access to information about your products/services.
Some might call this "losing control" of the sale. Maybe not. There once was a well-known men's store that used the slogan "an educated consumer is our best customer". Why? Because it means that customer is already engaged in what you have to sell--if they weren't, they wouldn't have bothered to learn more about it! If that were true (which it is), then why would we withhold any pertinent information that will move the customer closer to a sale?
Making enough initial compelling information available to your customers will enable you to share "the rest of the story."
If you do this, you will eliminate the dreaded "cold call." Providing introductory material in advance of any first contact is the way to go. This means that your company's B2B website needs to function well, along with any printed collateral materials. It's much easier to sell to a customer who already knows a fair amount of what you're selling as opposed to someone who just doesn't. It also takes us out of the "information provider" mode and sets us up to be problem solvers and/or solution providers.
It takes more than reciting facts to make a sale.
We should know our facts cold, but we should never forget that how we make those facts compelling and relevant to our customers is the very essence of creating value!
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 will be contributing a new blog article to Digital Media Training once per month about various sales and sale management topics. Stay tuned!
Connect with Buff via LinkedIn
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.