Selling your products or services is the lifeblood of any business. The biggest mistake I made in the startup phase of my family business was not making the investment to get trained to sell. I hid in my home office following an online marketing plan. After failing hard, I got the message. I love selling now. I like making money. Sales is my opportunity to share solutions that will make a difference in peoples' lives. When I solve problems, I get paid.
A family business has an opportunity to employ sales strategies in a way that's different from other entrepreneurs. The talents and skills of everyone working together as well as your family story can be your competitive advantage. Here how to sell together:
Paint a family portrait
Jane Grote Abell, chairwoman of Donato's Pizza, started her story on an episode of Undercover Boss episode: "I think the main difference between Donato's and other pizza companies is that we're a family."
She went on to tell the story of how her dad, at age 18 bought, a pizza place with $1,300. She shared how her dad chose the name Donato's because it means "to give a good thing." Her grandfather wanted him to choose the name Grody. Abell explained that her dad went with his gut, and now the name Donato's translates into how she operates all areas of the family business today.
That story has stayed with me. If I am ever in a city with Donato's, I will buy pizza there and not from another chain.
Tell people how did you family business started. Describe for them a time when you worked alongside your family through difficult personal or business circumstances. The power of a well-told story will take you from obscurity to preeminence in your area. Prospects will remember you and forget your competition.
Sell like a politician
You routinely see the spouses of politicians at fundraisers, even though the "other half" is not running for office. Why? Many voters believe they can know and trust a candidate by getting to know their spouse. The same is true in family business, if you're married. Your partner can make or break you.
I asked a successful family business owner about this. His business involves selling contracts internationally, so he makes trips overseas at least four months out of the year. He does not make a trip without his wife. He is convinced that she is the closer. Clients believe that he is honest because she comes across as sincere. Her official role in the family business is human resources, but she transforms into a salesperson when meeting with prospects.
Make sure that every family member who interacts with the public on behalf of your business knows how to sell through words and actions. Like any political family, you risk destroying your credibility because all eyes are watching.
Sell through service
It takes less effort and money to sell to an existing customer than it does to find new customers. Many entrepreneurs don't land repeat business because they don't deliver quality services. Someone drops the ball and the customer walks away with a negative experience. Your family business can stand out of from the crowd in this one area alone.
Work together as a well oiled machine and make it your mission to handle each customer as though they are a member of your family. Divide the work load among each member who is competent and willing to deliver services.
I recently experienced this at a family auto run dealership in Twin Falls, Idaho. The dad dealt with my paperwork, his son took me for a test and, when I returned, another family member parked the car. I watched him go on to clean and prep another car. The experience was endearing to me, a mom of four. It made an impact on my purchase decision. I did not go to a larger dealership located less than a mile because of it.
Doubling your sales can be simple but it does take hard work. Hone your family story, share it with everyone you come in contact with and deliver quality services together. There is strength in numbers. Don't hide your family, leverage it in the sales process.