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RE: [npEnterprise] Re: sales challenges

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  • Ben Delaney
    And let me add that you can NOT expect a social venture to be a quick fix for financial problems. Expect your new venture to take AT LEAST two years to show a
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 30, 2010
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      And let me add that you can NOT expect a social venture to be a quick fix for financial problems. Expect your new venture to take AT LEAST two years to show a profit. And be sure to have a marketing function in your budget.


      Running a SE is just like running a regular business. The fact that a NP is the owner has essentially no impact on how you run the business.


      Good luck.


      Ben Delaney
      Chief Executive Officer
      Great Computer Service by Certified Technicians
      The nonprofit social enterprise of the Stride Center

      delaney@..., www.ReliaTech.org
      510 236-7000 ext 5, M: 917 862-6572
      P please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to.


      From: npEnterprise@yahoogroups.com [mailto:npEnterprise@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Scott Leff
      Sent: Thursday, July 29, 2010 2:31 PM
      To: npEnterprise@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [npEnterprise] Re: sales challenges



      This goes right to the challenges of NPOs deciding that their financial salvation lies in glomming a for-profit model onto their mission work.

      You must be competitive in quality and price.  With rare exceptions, people are not going to buy an inferior product or pay more for it just to support your mission.  And, if they are willing to do that, then why go to all the trouble, expense, and risk of launching a for-profit business venture?  Obviously, they support your work.  Just do a better job with your individual giving program and ask them for a donation.  Then you can stay focused on what it is that you do best.

      Fear of "hard sell" sales techniques is another challenging issue.  There is a distinct culture clash between nonprofit and for-profit approaches to business.  So, when NPOs try to be for-profits but are uncomfortable using those more aggressive or more commer cial methods, they find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.  And, if they end up with folks inside the organization who are comfortable with using these techniques, they often find internal culture wars.

      I'd recommend a long, hard assessment of whether or not product sales can truly replace your traditional fundraising efforts.

      Good luck with whatever you decide.

      Scott Leff

      Scott B. Leff, Associate Director
      Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University

      I react pragmatically. Where the market works, I'm for that. Where the government is necessary, I'm for that. I'm deeply suspicious of somebody who says, "I'm in favor of privatization," or, "I'm deeply in favor of public ownership." I'm in favor of whatever works in the particular case. -John Kenneth Galbraith, economist (1908-2006)

      >>> "Deborah Hostetter" 07/29/10 3:21 PM >>>

      Everyone made excellent points regarding the challenge you face. The
      Sandler program is outstanding; my sales rep unfortunately thought some
      segments didn't apply so we had to do some de-selection. You must be
      able to differentiate your product from your competitors in either of
      two ways: 1) it actually is and you can prove it, or 2) you can create
      the perception that it is better by truly understanding what your
      customer wants/needs in that product category. What problem will your
      solve for your customer? Ask them vs. presenting the feature/benefit

      Speak to their needs using your product as the solution tool.
      You may find that you can resolve an issue as a vendor that no one else
      addressed and the sale of your product is a by-product of our efforts.
      ONLY when you know your customer perceives the value in the product can
      you introduce the 'by the way, by working with us you also help ......'.

      I recently attended a business development training program for a new
      business enterprise. A representative from Wells Fargo emphatically
      made the point that a Not-For-Profit must first meet the criteria set
      forth by the customer. When that need is met, the social enterprise has the chance to tip the scale via its mission.

      If you lead with the mission, the customer will think your organization is fully subsidized and therefore, your product should be essentially free. I've had to educate our customers for a long time.

      When you act like a serious business serving the customer, you and your product will be taken seriously. If you lead with, "We are a
      not-for-profit" the last three words are all your customer will ever

      -------original message --------------

      From: npEnterprise@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Monday, June 28, 2010 2:48 PM

      Here are comments that address the following request from Paula

      "For those organizations involved in selling their products and
      what are some good resources that take into account the distinct needs
      social enterprises? As a staff member involved in the transition from
      traditional nonprofit fundraising to product sales as our primary
      generation model, I'm finding it challenging to get up to speed. I
      found any resources or training which takes into account the
      additional/different sales needs of social enterprises, or adaptations
      sales products that are meant for social enterprises.

      For example, the fact that our product sales support
      the mission of the organization seems to be an important selling point,
      I'm not sure whether it's more compelling than the quality of our
      and how it stacks up to other products marketed by for-profit entities.

      Also, I'm reluctant to use "hard sell" sales techniques for fear of
      offending those who previously supported our organization through
      and have had difficulty in concisely articulating the different funding
      model to those who want to support us. Simply put, some will buy the
      product because they want to support our mission, and this is now the
      way to do it, while others will buy the product because it's the best of
      kind in relation to our competitors. Our sales are not where I want them
      be, but I'm having a hard time diagnosing why and knowing the best ways
      address the problem, without any background or expertise in sales.

      How have those of you who now do a lot of sales work in your social
      enterprises become successful?"

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