Most agree that selling products and services are at the core of any successful business. Without sales there is simply no money to pay the bills and the business fails. But there are other, less obvious types of “sales” that are just as essential to the success of your business. Without these sales, made regularly, your costs will increase dramatically. These are the “sales” you must make, not with your prospects, but with your support team.
Your support team includes your employees, your outsourced services, and your suppliers. Each one of these “sales” requires a different approach to fully engage them to do their best work for you, take on additional responsibilities, provide quality products and services, and extend your credit and terms. But they all have one thing in common. They must believe you have their best interests at heart before they will commit their time, energy, loyalty, products and services to you. But when they do, they can significantly reduce your costs, turnover, and need for capital, thereby dramatically increasing your chances of success.
Employees. Your employees are key to your success – if they really understand that you are offering them a career opportunity, security, a piece of the action, appreciation, guidance, respect, and time off. They must be clear on how their job, however removed, eventually affects sales, why it’s important, and how it fits into their careers. Show them that you have their best interests at heart so they will be more appreciative of performance based-compensation plans, bonuses, and increased decision-making power.
Outsourced Services. Show appreciation for your outsourced services by providing them with a clear message about your expectations. You can achieve this by having policies in place to constantly improve communication, being clear on requirements and deadlines, and sharing with them the reasons for your requirements. It also means that you give more praise than criticism, and your criticism is constructive. Show them that you are easy to work with. “What can we do on our end to help you be more effective” is a great “sales” pitch for these folks.
Suppliers. Show empathy for the risk they are taking with your new or growing company. Share with them your goals, challenges, and opportunities on a regular basis. This will alleviate some of their fears when they take a chance on you by extending credit and terms that enable you to grow. They worry that you may pay your bill late, or be a “beg pay.” Work out a long-term commitment so they know you won’t dump them for another supplier. They have to believe they can grow with you. It takes considerable seasoning over time to prove you have their best interests at heart.
Negotiating every business relationship is a sales process. You have to gain their trust and prove to them that you fit into their business and growth plan. You have to be aware of their fears and allay them. You do this by demonstrating over time that you will live up to their expectations, and that you are a true strategic partner, helping them achieve their goals.
The alternative to making these “sales” is to spend tons of money on turnover, lost corporate knowledge, high interest rates, short payment terms, and higher service and supply costs. This is money that startups can’t afford, and money that is better spent growing your business.
These types of sales to your support team are rarely taught in school and receive little focus in the entrepreneurial media. But when you demonstrate that you have your team’s best interests at heart, you spend less and monetize faster!
Who We Are
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 www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.
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