E39 - Building Value- Based Relationships With CIOs Brian Bark, Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG)

Truly understanding who you are selling to is an important aspect of sales. A salesperson who wants to succeed in sales has to do their homework on their clients. Knowing how a customer operates, what they need, and how your product fits into their operations can give you an advantage in closing the deal.

This is how Sinclair Broadcast Group CIO Brian Bark deals with salespeople coming to him. In this episode of Tech Sales Insights, Brian talks about how his baseball career prepared him for a corporate role, digital transformation in broadcasting, the need to build value-based relationships.

Brian spent his early career as a baseball player playing for the Atlanta Braves, the Boston Red Sox, and the New York Mets. It was with the Mets where his career in IT started. As an assistant to the scouting director, he was instrumental in developing the first digital scouting system for the team. He then joined Smiths Group and HP Enterprises before becoming CIO at Sinclair.

As CIO at Sinclair, he handles the enterprise systems and oversees the development of the media supply chain. Sinclair runs 186 stations across the United States and part of Brian’s role is to update the broadcasting and digital infrastructure of the entire broadcast group.

Digital Transformation in Broadcasting

With streaming on the rise, it’s an exciting time to be in the broadcasting industry. This is because of the many new technologies that are pushing broadcasting to new heights. Brian especially sees plenty of opportunities in IoT, AR, and VR. The question now is how to incorporate these technologies into their current infrastructure and operations.

Rather than a transformation, Brian prefers to dub this as a “renovation”, as broadcast has been digital for a few decades now. There is no need for a complete overhaul of systems and operations when incorporating new technologies, but rather, updating these with new tools and systems.

AI and machine learning are also going to be important tools in broadcasting, according to Brian. Especially when it comes to pattern recognition so they can be more predictive and accurate with their forecasting.

Ultimately, however, adopting new technologies to push the company - and industry - towards a more digital future will be entirely based on the value these technologies can provide. Businesses shouldn’t transform digitally for the sake of it. Rather, they should carefully consider how incorporating these technologies can improve how they operate.

Brian then also goes on to mention how much the COVID pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in all industries. Undoubtedly, the situation the pandemic has forced upon businesses necessitated the adoption of more digital tools to continue operations. In the broadcasting space, part of this transformation is the evolution of their workflows.

This forced acceleration of digital transformation has also gotten more companies to trust technologies more. This has enabled quicker adoption of newer technologies as well as quicker innovation.

Lessons as an Athlete

One key lesson he learned as a professional baseball player was the importance of differentiation in your career. In baseball, according to Brian, you cannot move to the next level unless you’ve differentiated yourself enough from the previous level.

And this is what made him take up the role at HP Enterprises, where he worked on the demand side. This helped him become a more well-rounded CIO as he gained experience from both the demand and supply sides of technology. This is something that, in his own opinion, sets him apart from other CIOs.

Another lesson he learned was while playing in the minor leagues. That experience taught him the value of commitment and the work ethic needed to execute and perform at work daily.

Lastly, as a professional athlete, he was in an ultra-competitive environment where you had to have a high level of accountability. He had to make sure that he was always prepared and ready to execute. This is the same for the business world. So a lot of the traits he developed as an athlete have helped him thrive as a manager and executive.

Building Value-Based Relationships in Business

The importance of understanding your customer cannot be undervalued. For Brian, the salespeople that get his attention are those that really understand Sinclair; who they are, what they do, where they sit in the industry, who their market is, and how their product is going to add value to Sinclair’s operations.

At its core, sales is all about catering to the customer and driving engagement with them. So salespeople should make their customers and prospects care about the product they’re selling.

When it comes to working with other companies, Brian looks for synergies and how all parties involved can create the value that they are looking for. Brian illustrates that, big or small, they are willing to work with companies that can provide technologies that would be value-enabling.

At the end of the day, building value-based relationships pushes businesses forward. Creating value enables both sides of the collaboration to grow and thrive. In this period of interconnectivity, this is a really valuable asset to develop.

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