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Are you selling products or creating value?

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Strong partner relationships that grow value for the parties involved are playing a central role in redefining the online economy and the sales ecosystems within that economy.

The digital revolution has given businesses a vast range of new tools (software platforms, social media, payment systems, etc) that can be used to broaden and deepen their relationships along the value chain and grow stakeholder ecosystems.

In the case of B2C, the consumer is increasingly entering into an ongoing relationship with the seller, as well as that seller’s partners; and furthermore, the consumer is often entering into relationships with other consumers through things like social media, online forums, and even secondary markets. The atomised model of the individual shopper engaging with a business in a one-off exchange is becoming less prevalent.

The task of chaperoning the buyer into this ecosystem of enriched value increasingly falls under the auspice of the modern sales director. As surely as business models have been disrupted, so too has the role of the sales executive, who is now expected to provide stakeholders – at all levels – with a value map rather than just a list of benefits and features.

Savvy sales executives now understand the possibilities and tap the potential of partner networks – baking a bigger pie rather than looking for the biggest slice of a smaller pie.

The general manager of sales for online marketplace platform Marketplacer, Simon Underwood, says a big part of retail and business today is about creating strong relationships and showing additional value to what you’re creating.

“It’s about relationships with partners and laying solid foundations for that,” Underwood says.

He says it’s vital to connect the dots for potential marketplace owners as well as retailers about the web of relationships contained in marketplaces and how those relationships foster a strong ecosystem that nurtures sales and reveals multiple revenue streams.

“Say, for example, a retailer has been selling the licensed products of a major brand for 10 years, but the store is in a regional town and it’s turning over $20,000 worth of those products a year. That store would like to sell to the rest of the world, or the country, but it doesn’t have the funds to market that,” he says.

“By creating a marketplace, the brand holder is then acquiring more customers to come in, they may not be aware there is a store within 50 km radius of their house, so this then generates more business for the store, for the brand, and creates a better business experience across the whole partner network.”

Underwood says marketplaces like Bike Exchange have shown the huge potential of fragmented markets in creating an ecosystem of value for stakeholders. He says online marketplaces unlock a store of hidden value that goes far beyond the standard model of e-commerce selling and moves into a rich web of relationships with vast commercial potential.

He says the sales strategy of forward-thinking companies has to shift focus from not only moving units but to creating networks of value: “What is the value of your customers and network? This is the question people have to start asking themselves.”


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