Understanding Your Place in the Value Chain

The Internet—and blogs, in particular—thrive on hyperbole (something of which I am fully and completely aware); it drives attention and traffic. A few days ago I wrote about the death of sales and professional selling being greatly overstated. It’s a provocative idea.

The death of sales jobs and professional selling isn’t going to be a noticeable trend, despite the power of the Internet to cause a disruption and change to the status quo (but you can read the comments to the above linked post for other opinions, albeit opinions not based on a long history in the recruiting and staffing industry).

But the point that the doomsayers make isn’t lost on me.

In fact, I am in complete agreement with the idea that the ability to create value for your clients (and customers) has never been more critical, as it has never been more difficult. I also don’t disagree that gaining the time and attention of your dream clients has never been more difficult, as they can’t afford to waste time (although the idea that your dream clients being busier than ever somehow translates to them having the time to become subject-matter experts in every area of their business for which they make a purchase is lost on me).

Success in Sales Means Knowing Your Place

All of your product knowledge, your situational knowledge, your subject-matter expertise, and your business acumen must be leveraged to help your dream clients help their dream clients. Your place in the value chain is in helping your dream clients to produce results for their dream clients. Your competitive advantage is being able to help your dream clients gain a competitive advantage.

Salespeople that do not understand the charge that they have to keep have not been necessary to their dream clients for a long time, and that trend is only growing. It is no longer enough to simply provide your product or service; that time, which is really long past, will not be returning.

Succeeding in sales means understanding and taking your place in the value chain. Your dream client isn’t looking for a salesperson; they are hiring a business manager, a partner who will help them to produce the business result that they need to produce to be competitive in their own space. Sales and selling effectively is about helping to come up with the ideas to produce those results and then owning and managing the outcomes.

Does this spell the death of sales and professional selling? I think not.

Does it mean that the trend towards value creating at all levels of sales, from simple B2C sales to the most complex of B2B sales, is going to increasingly expose the gap between what salespeople can do and what they must do to succeed for their companies and their clients? It does.

Welcome to the future of sales. Make something of it.

Questions

What is your role as a salesperson in creating value for your clients? What is your role as it pertains to how you help your clients help their clients, and as it pertains to how you help your clients compete in their own space?

In your experience, when is a salesperson irrelevant to the buying process? Is that the same thing as the salesperson being irrelevant to the sales process? What would a salesperson need to be able to do to be relevant?

What do you have to do personally to close the gap between what your skills as a salesperson allow you to do and what you simply must do to keep pace with the trend towards creating, owning, and managing outcomes for your clients?

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