The #MeToo movement, equal pay for women movements, the last election, and the surge in women-owned businesses all lay testimony that the times are finally changing. This change is good for everybody – politically, socially, environmentally, and economically. There is no downside!
Bonnie was thrilled to be chosen as the Keynote Speaker and workshop leader for the 2019 Women’s Business Conference hosted by the National Entrepreneur Center for in Orlando. They had close to 200 business women in attendance.
Although her workshop was on the three essential business relationships – your vendors, your employees, and your customers – her Keynote was a message any company selling products or services would be wise to address. Women now make more than 80% of the buying decisions!
How did this happen? Long ago, men abdicated their buying power to women with this seemingly simple question, “What’s for dinner, Honey?” To answer this question, here’s what a woman has to do:
- write a menu for every meal for the week
- convert the menu into a grocery list
- take the money and go to the store
- make all the brand decisions
- fill up four bags of groceries in 20 minutes, flat
- drive home and put the groceries away
- leave out tonight’s dinner and prepare it
- serve dinner
Did you notice the part about taking the money and making all the brand decisions?
Bonnie went on to point out that women are in a position to force companies to address their concerns about the health of their family and the environment just by the brands they choose to buy and those they avoid. This is the true “Power of the Purse!”
Women’s multitasking and networking abilities are ideal to master the soft skills necessary in each of the 3 key business relationships:
1. Your Vendors
Whether they’re supplying you with goods, services, or funds, your vendors will be more likely to extend your credit and terms when you show empathy for their position. They are paying their bills with money they collect from you. Be proactive and give them a heads up with the remediation plan when you can’t make your payments in a timely manner. Don’t force them to make that call.
Share your growth plans and challenges with your vendors. Demonstrate how they will benefit as you grow. Make a long-term commitment to encourage them to help you grow your business.
Vendors have a wealth of information about your competition, the marketplace, and the latest trends. When they visit you, don’t make them wait in the hall. Invite them in for a cup of coffee and a piece of pie!
2. Your Employees
Employees are not just working for a paycheck. They’re interested in advancing their career, their skill sets, and receiving the recognition and validation they need to improve. They are interested in time off to spend with their families, as well as job security, health and retirement. Let them know that you have their best interests at heart and you will increase your productivity and profitability while you reduce turnover, the number one hidden cost in any business.
Put them on a know-the-need basis, the opposite of the need-to-know basis. By sharing your challenges, goals, and opportunities with your entire staff, you demonstrate respect for their intelligence, loyalty, and financial interest in your company.
When breakthrough ideas come from your own people, acknowledge them publicly with written appreciation explaining the problem and how they solved it. This encourages them to do more, garners them more respect from their teammates, and announces to the rest of your staff that they too will get the same appreciation when they solve a problem. After all, no one knows your company better than your staff.
3. Your Customers
Your customer may be more than just your end-user. You may have to go through several levels of “customers” to get to your end-user. Who are the “buyers” at each level between you and your ultimate customer? What does each of them really want? Put yourself in their shoes.
Don’t assume that everyone is enthralled with features and benefits or even pricing. For instance, in our case, we were selling to distributors who were more concerned with the strategic advantage of carrying our product vis a vis their competition. Their sales managers were more concerned with meeting their quotas. Their sales representatives were more concerned with the incentive programs. The retailers were more concerned with proven sales and the seasonal decorations we could provide. And their clerks were more concerned with being recognized for their ability to reorder our products …or not!
Notice how none of them were concerned with quality, price, package, or even product!
The key to keeping your goods and services relevant is constant feedback. Your customer can only give you two things: payment and feedback. Recognize that the feedback is coming into your organization through your salespeople and your customer service people. To stay relevant, establish formal lines of communication between them in your marketing and production people.
Bonnie was excited to meet the women making a difference, share the lessons she’s learned building a top national brand, and celebrate the power of the purse that women have!
The National Entrepreneurship Center
The National Entrepreneur Center is a wonderful case study for how effective a cooperative environment can be. Several business and entrepreneurial organizations are housed under one roof, including SCORE, U.S. Department of Commerce, National Association of Women Business Owners, and several Chambers of Commerce.
This is an extremely well-organized model as it provides efficiencies of scale and shared support to enable these groups to provide assistance with the lowest possible overhead. The facility itself is well-designed with private spaces, a state-of-the-art auditorium, and several conference rooms. Bonnie is grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of this supportive group and share our Guiding Principles for Success.
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.
To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.