SalespersonsThe salespeople who call on your business have much more to offer than the products and services they represent. They are a gold mine of information and are in a position to significantly help your business.

In this series, we have examined the guiding principles that were instrumental to our success in the belief that they will be valuable to you in your business as well. The questions we ask put you in the other guy’s shoes to help you discover how your basic attitudes and philosophies affect your important decisions and ultimately your success. Here is our third question:

3. How would you like selling to yourself? If you were a salesperson and had two clients, one who treated you with respect and dignity, and another who viewed you as a necessary evil, which one would get preferential treatment? If one client held the view that all salespeople were hucksters and tricksters, would you offer them the special deals? Or would you be more likely to tell the client who treated you with respect, the most economical ways to buy your products? If you knew significant market information affecting your industry or your customer’s business, which client would you share it with? If you could extend terms, reduce interest rates or avoid holding fees, who would you tell first, the client that took you on time, was glad to see you, and treated you like a strategic partner? Or the one who kept you waiting with the “it’s just another salesperson trying to sell me something, and they can wait,” attitude? When you look at relationships through the salesperson’s eyes, you realize how much they influence behavior. Why not treat salespeople like partners and get the edge?

We always treated our vendors and their salespeople as if they were part of our staff. We saw them as valuable allies who could significantly influence our bottom line. Here are four reasons why we wanted to be their favorite client:

Deals: The salesperson who calls on you may have special pocket deals. These are not on the price sheet but are given to the salesperson to help close new customers or gain larger orders. Often the supplier or vendor will have a close-out at a very attractive price. Give your salesperson a reason to offer these to you first!

Terms: Vendor salespersons are your advocates for better terms with their companies. Their recommendations can make all the difference, and their endorsement means they stand behind you. They know the process and can give you insights on how to maneuver successfully. When you give them respect, they will share what they know and go to bat for you!

Information: We are often too busy running our businesses to gather the latest news in our industries. Sometimes we are blindsided by a competitor’s move, a new opportunity, or a change in the laws or business practices. Your vendor’s salespeople know all about it! It is part of their job to stay on top of the ever-changing marketplace, making them a major source of information for your company.

Special Accommodations: Occasionally you will be offered an opportunity that you can’t take advantage of due to lack of supplies or terms. Your vendor’ salesperson can help, especially when it means more income for their company. Many times our vendors provided us with incredible opportunities to help us grow. They knew we would be loyal and beholding. Why? Because their salespeople were treated well by us and our staff. We made them feel important and part of our team.

Next time we will further reveal your basic guiding business principles by asking the last of the four questions, “Would you buy from yourself?”

Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact