Monday, April 27, 2009

Resolving the Consultative Sales Paradox. OPM and VAR have different genes. But they both have to make a living.

An OPM is an original print manufacturer.
The OPM gene is about predictability, a nicely balanced production load, stable rules that govern efficient processes. From the outside, it looks boring. From the inside it's about focus and the craft of Print. Whether digital or offset, what looks like "just pushing a button" is a craft. The better the crafts person, the less effort they seem to put in. The great OPM's make a living by producing commodities. Intel produces commodities. Making something as complex as a print product an easy to produce commodity is as good as it gets.

A VAR is a value added reseller.
The VAR gene is about new problems and new solutions. The harder the problem, the more interesting it is. The VAR gene thrives on drama, being the hero that saves the day. Masterless Samurai or Cowboys on the Range. the great VARs make a living by combing smart with commodities to invent just the right toolset and processes for just the right person at just right time in just the right place. Elegantly assembling something as complex as the exact right tool set is as good as it gets.

Easy for me, hard for you is how to make a living
Meanwhile the secret of value creation and earning a living is "easy for me, hard for you." That's the value that most people will willingly pay for. You can charge less and do it faster because it's "easy for me." Smart is the secret sauce. It works by making it "easy for me." The smarter you are, the easier it is to get it done. You can take on harder and harder projects and still make the solutions easier and easier.

The two genes lead to the two different phenotypes that we see in different spaces; Sales v Production, Inside man v Outside man, Designer v Printer, Trade shop v Retail printer. When you take the biological point of view, it's all the same song with different melodies.

The trick is to get the "genes" to be mutually supportive. That's when you get to an organizational DNA that will evolve into a well adapted phenotype that can earn the living to support the various genes. Organizations come and go. Genes are eternal.

When the phenotype/organization/business can earn a nice living, everyone can have a nice day. Which is all anyone really wants anyway.

1. Don't give away the VAR part. Set up time based rules for pricing, instead of giving away the disruptive costs of RUSH jobs in the service of "customer service." One trick is to offer the rush as First Class service, and three day or whatever is appropriate as Business Class, with a discount, not a rush charge. Everyone hates a rush charge. Everyone loves a discount.

2. VARs thrive in an atmosphere of trust. Without trust, no VAR is going to get paid. The best place to find trust is with the customers who already trust you. So prospect with OPM commodities. Make VAR money with present and past customers.

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