Our last presidential election, the #MeToo movement, equal-pay movements, and the surge in women-owned businesses all prove that things are finally changing. And this change is great for everyone—socially, politically, environmentally, and economically. There are zero downsides! Bonnie was ecstatic to be the Keynote Speaker and workshop leader at the 2019 Women’s Business Conference in Orlando, hosted by the National Entrepreneur Center. Close to 200 businesswomen attended.
Bonnie’s workshop focused on three crucial business relationships—your vendors, employees, and customers—but her Keynote served as an important message to any business selling goods and services. Today, women make over 80% of purchasing decisions! How did that happen? A long time ago, men resigned their purchasing power to women with the simple question, “What’s for dinner, honey?” But to answer that seemingly simple question, this is what a woman had to do:
- Create a menu for every meal
- Translate this menu to a grocery list
- Take money and drive to the store
- Make brand decisions
- Fill up bags of groceries, leaving enough time to spare to prepare tonight’s dinner
- Drive home and put away the groceries
- Cook that night’s dinner
- Serve dinner to her family
Did you notice the part about taking money and making brand decisions?
In her speech, Bonnie went on to discuss how women are in a position to encourage companies to address their concerns about health and the environment simply by choosing and avoiding certain brands. This is the real “power of the purse.”
A woman’s networking and multitasking skills are ideal tools to master these 3 essential business relationships:
Whether your vendors are supplying you with funds, goods, or services, they’ll be much more likely to extend your terms and credit once you show empathy for them. They pay their own bills with your funds. Instead of waiting until it’s too late, give them a remediation plan ahead of time if you know you won’t be able to make a payment. Don’t put them in a risky position. Share your challenges and growth plan with your vendor—show them how they’ll be a part of it and benefit as a result. Make sure they know you are committed to helping them grow. Vendors have a ton of information about the market, your competition, and trends. Don’t make them wait when they pay you a visit. Invite them inside for some coffee and pie!
Your people aren’t just working for a paycheck. They’re invested in their skills, their career, and being recognized and validated in order to improve. They want a career that will give them time off to be with loved ones, as well as health insurance, retirement, and general job security. Make it known that you have their best interests at heart. That way you’ll be as profitable and productive as possible while reducing turnover—the number one hidden cost of businesses in any industry.
Instead of putting them on a need-to-know basis, put them on a know-the-need basis! By sharing your opportunities, goals, and challenges with all of your people, you show your respect for their loyalty, intelligence, and financial interest in your company.
When groundbreaking ideas come from your employees, make it a point to publicly acknowledge them. Explain the problem and how their ideas solved it. This will encourage them to keep working hard, earn their teammates’ respect, and show the rest of your people that their good work will also be recognized. After all, your staff knows your company better than anybody else.
When we say “customer” we don’t necessarily mean your end-user. You might have to get through many groups of “customers” to get to the end-user. Who are the “buyers” that lie between you and your final customer? And what do they want? Imagine yourself in their shoes.
Try not to assume that every customer is engrossed with benefits and features or even your prices. For example, we had sold to distributors who were more concerned with the strategic advantage they would have with their retail buyers by carrying our product over our competitor’s. Their managers were worried about their quotas. Their sales reps’ top priorities were their incentive programs. The retailers were more worried about tried-and-true sales and the seasonal marketing materials we provided. And the retailers’ clerks were more concerned about being recognized for reordering our products—or not!
Did you notice that none of them were worried about quality, price, design, or even the product itself?
You need constant feedback in order to keep your goods and services relevant. Your customer has the power to give you only two things—money and feedback. Understand that feedback enters your business through your sales reps and customer service team. Establish formal lines of communication between these two groups, and your marketing and production people. This will ensure you’ll stay relevant.
Bonnie was enthusiastic to share the lessons she’s learned on the road to building a national brand, to meet those women who also make a difference, and to celebrate every woman’s power of the purse!