Why Underestimated entrepreneurs need a sales plan

 

[00:00] My name is Malla Haridat and I’m a business coach and speaker, and I’m diving in today on a topic that has just become near and dear to my heart, why underestimated entrepreneurs need sales plans. Now we could probably cover a hundred reasons why you need a sales plan for your business, but I want to share with you two critical ones today, and a few stories behind how to be able to bring this into your business so that you can start seeing your business grow. Because if you’re dealing with this challenge of look, I am out here every day Malla, I am out here on a regular basis, I’m putting in the work I’m putting in the effort and I’m just not seeing the results in my business. I’m just not seeing the growth. I’m definitely not seeing the profit yet, then the sales plan may very well be one of the indicators, one of the factors that you’re missing, and this could literally change the game for you.

[01:00]So let me dive into reason number one which is that sales planning is often not taught and here’s what I mean by that, you can go on social media right now or you can go to an event that’s targeting entrepreneurs or small business owners, and you’re going to see a ton of content on a variety of topics to help you as an entrepreneur grow your business. So there’ll be things like social media and marketing, you’ll hear from financial experts about bookkeeping and accounting, you’ll definitely hear from legal experts about intellectual property and other topics and then my personal favorite one, things like systems and project management and how you set up the best technology internally within your company. But sales is one of those topics that for a lot of programs and a lot of events sales doesn’t get highlighted. You might hear from the speaker who started and grew a seven-figure business, you’ll hear from the success stories of, oh my goodness gracious, this person started an eight-figure company.

[02:00] But the story that they’re going to give you is the how I got there and what they’re not usually going to do is give you the nuances. I want to know what did that person do day-to-day to get to their first six figures? What did their schedule look like? When it came to getting the sales, what was the strategy? What were the tactics? What were the actual things that they did in order to get to that first six figures or that first seven figures and far too often, a lot of that is not included and I get it, it’s not really often seen as sexy some of those nuances. It’s really sexy to be in the room with somebody who’s done this and give yourself inspiration and hope and guidance, of course, it is, a thousand percent. I want to celebrate every single one of those individuals who are brave enough and giving enough to kind of share those stories. But I’m that entrepreneur in the room that wants to know yes, how you do it. [03:00] What exactly am I not doing right now that I need to shift and shape and do differently that’s going to give me the tools that I need to get to that next level in my business.

So when you start pulling back the covers on this, sales often has a very negative connotation to begin with, we often think of the icky used car salesman and then when you’re in spaces for entrepreneurs, you often don’t get the actual advice on sales. I mean, when was the last time you went to something on here’s how to do sales projections for the next year in your business, have you ever attended that workshop? I haven’t. I think it would be amazing actually to have that because that’s the real tool that as an entrepreneur that you need and you need to understand first and foremost, what projections are and then what is the actual way that you make this happen on a regular basis. That’s the first part of it is that sales plans are really not taught. Now don’t get it confused, I’ve been in a space of entrepreneurship education now for at least

[04:00] 15 plus years and for a long time, there was this huge push to give entrepreneurs the tools to write their business plans and I still think business plans are critical, do not get me wrong.

There’s a huge value in being able to think about the 10,000-foot view of your business, both the financials as well as the overall business itself, but even within a business plan, you could sit down and read most business plans and then what are you supposed to do Monday morning and go out and get more sales. It’ll say there, you need to get X number of sales, but what does that actually break down to look like? What do I need to do in order to get those numbers in? I’ve had conversations with entrepreneurs, for example, about business development, people who weren’t familiar at all with the term, so if you work in a service-based industry, you probably have a business development model, which is very different types of sales than e-commerce businesses. So I could go online right now, for example, on social media and I could probably find someone

[05:00] that’ll give me a revised or some sort of a version of a sales plan for an e-commerce business where it’s very transactional. But when you’re dealing with building a business that’s built upon relationships or when you’re good at relationships, that sales plan looks very different. There’s a long cycle and the reality is well then what am I supposed to do Monday morning and then next week, Monday morning, and the Monday morning after that, in order to get the numbers that I really need?

So from just a first practical level of that it’s not being taught and that there’s not a value often placed on the sales plan. I mean, I argue I’ll keep it real, I think a lot of times, a lot of the education and the information and the things that are being put out there for entrepreneurs and definitely for small business owners, I often wonder how many entrepreneurs were involved in making the decision because an entrepreneur, especially one that’s trying to get to that first six figures or first seven figures that’s really the question you’re asking is

[06:00] what am I supposed to do Monday morning to get more money in the door? But then there’s this second level that I definitely know it has been neglected and I’m starting to see conversations in different spaces now. You see it on social media, you definitely hear it in events, this conversation about underestimated entrepreneurs. So what do I mean by when I say underestimated. From a very technical term who I’m looking at is I’m looking at groups of entrepreneurs in this country who traditionally have been underestimated for the value and the strengths that they bring to the table and right now, when you look at earnings reports the federal reserve did this really amazing research report back in 2016, looking at the revenue numbers for women entrepreneurs and they broke it down by race.

I remember when I first read that report, I was just so, oh, my heart just broke into a thousand pieces because I finally got the data behind what I was seeing in a lot of the public events and the public

[07:00] workshops that I was delivering for entrepreneurs, you started seeing the numbers and the trends like right in front of you. So my challenge is, is that for those of us that define ourselves as underestimated. So if you’re BIPOC, if you’re black indigenous people of color or an ally, you think and operate with very similar values and concepts and ways of being, I think that there’s something you need Nique for us embedded in with the sales plan. Here’s what I mean by that; for far too many of us, we have been taught very traditional ways of growing our businesses and then at the same time we’ve been raised in households that did not operate with those traditional values about how you do business. So I’ll give you an example, in the community I grew up in, so I’m a mixed person of mixed background, but I consider myself to be a black American and I was raised with very old school, traditional black values.

[08:00] So there are a lot of themes about like hard work and sweat equity and making sure you do the work, you show up, there’s huge value in education. Go get your degree, make sure that you’re showing up, you’re getting your third degree, one is not enough, let’s make this happen and I find a lot of synergy in communities where I have friends that their first their parents were immigrants. For example, you see a lot of similar values in different communities like that and so it’s pretty easy to find some of the common themes when I’m in different cultural groups that I feel really comfortable with. But the challenge is, is that when I look at the way that traditional business or entrepreneurship, in particular, is taught, it doesn’t often align with the values that I have, it’s different. I’ll give you one that’s been a sticking point of mine for a number of years.

[09:00] I believe that if I work hard, I should be paid well, there’s no doubt about that and I have certain numbers in mind of what I always want my business to make, what I want to personally earn, what we want within our family, things like that. But honestly, once I hit a certain number, I’m usually pretty good. I’m not trying to go out here and make money that like 20 generations deep. I mean, it’d be nice, don’t get me wrong, but that’s not the end goal. I’m more driven by impact and more driven by seeing results in people and especially my people and in my communities, I want to see people financially empowered and economically empowered and being able to then participate in their community from a different space.

 [10:00] Well, at one point in my own business, I reached that income threshold or reached that number, that invisible number that’s been in my head for years and I kept saying I want more, I want more, I want more and I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t getting more. I’m going to tell you the power of what the sales plan did for meI did this work myself. I sat down and on a weekly basis, a monthly basis, a quarterly basis, I said, here’s what I want to make for my business and then I back-ended into, okay, exactly how am I going to do that? One of the gaps that I saw in my own business model was that I needed to get more proposals out in my business if I wanted to increase the amount of money that I was going to make. For me, proposal writings are this completely draining, soul-wrenching, I’d rather pluck my hair out of my head, one hair at a time type of activity. If you’re in a service-based business and you have this challenge with writing proposals, please raise your hand silently and I will give you the biggest virtual hug you can imagine because I feel you. Because proposals often require you to really flush out an entire process, especially because most of the work that I often deliver is customized, it just requires you to spend hours. You’re not necessarily going to get paid for the work, but it’s the only way to really go after the big money with most of the types of opportunities that are in the industry and in the work that I do.

[11:00] Listen, I’ve tried a number of ways of approaching proposals. I’ve tried hiring people to write them, that gets expensive really fast. I’ve tried using templates and I’ve tried using a whole bunch of other things but the challenge I often run into is that people need the proposals written at exactly the timeframe that my business is the busiest. It always happens that way and I will find 6,000 reasons not to write the proposal because of that particular factor, I just don’t have the bandwidth. Even if I hire people, there’s a limited bandwidth you have because you’re serving your current clients and you want to make sure you’re able to deliver. Well, let me tell you something powerful about the sales plan. When I started saying, look, I need to earn more and the way I’m going to need to do it is through proposals because I saw as one avenue where my strengths were, where I definitely knew my company stood out amongst others when I get the proposals

[12:00] and I usually have a good chance of closing them. People often like the services my company provides and then now I’m not writing them and I see that show up on my sales plan every single week. Okay, Malla, you were supposed to write two this week and you only got to point three, maybe point one if I’m really honest of the proposal written, what’s the deal, what’s the deal?

Well, until I started really, really digging in for myself about what this business represented for myself. At first, yes, it was a means to an end, it’s to make sure I keep the lights on, it’s to make sure that I have a quality of living but then until I started really, really digging it and really, really understanding what’s the real power of this? Oh, oh, the power of this is that I am living my ancestors’ wildest, wildest dreams right now. I’ve gone to the family reunions and seen the homes that my great grandparents or my great-great-grandparents, I’ve seen them, I’ve seen them.

 [13:00] I’m living their wildest dreams and I need to lay the groundwork so that when I leave out of here, the next two or three generations completely have changed and transformed what we thought would be possible. When I started digging into that and then started digging into the impact of, well, I know there are others that have the same story. Oh my gosh, incredibly talented, deliver amazing services and the way that I’m going to realize this full impact that’s to be made is I have to empower others. Oh, I have to empower others, I have to get more programs. Oh, I have to get more programs; I have to get more proposals written. Suddenly the solutions for how to get more proposals written started showing up because I was willing to step inside this space that we don’t like to talk about.

[14:00] Sales in your company and revenue and generating money and all those other types of things brings up big topics. I often like to get into the mindset part of it, your money mindset, what do you actually believe about money? What do you believe to be true? Not what you say out loud in public and not even when you say to your girls when you’re hanging out or your friends when you’re having a conversation, a private conversation, no, no, no, no, what do you really, really, really, really believe about money and what do you really, really, really believe about sales? I hear it all the time in my sales coaching group, people start out and they think that sales is hard and yes, because a lot of times the way that it’s being delivered and taught to us to starting entrepreneurs or even those that have been doing it for a while, it’s hard. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to take away from it, there’s work that needs to be done in order to sell. I’m not going to wave a wand and magically pixie dust is going to fold out and all your sales are going to be there magically.

[15:00] But I will say that if you put in systems and processes in place, you can find a way to make it much easier and bring in the profits you want. But first, you got to unwrap, unravel, unlearn, unearth, un-everything to get at the core of what do you really believe about sales and what do you really believe about money. I think for a lot of us that falls into the underestimated category, we don’t have a space to have those conversations. I found that to be so critical with the sales group coaching that I do that the space to have the honest conversations about what’s really showing up for you about sales, it’s so, so, so important. The other side of that honesty too, is where are your strengths at? Where do you have huge strengths about sales that if you look at traditional methods around [16:00] selling or you’re taught what a sales plan template looks like, it probably doesn’t reflect your strengths. It doesn’t reflect how you operate and how you work and how you see the world and I think for many of us, the biggest challenge for a lot of us is underestimated entrepreneurs. It’s not that we don’t have talents, it’s not that we don’t have value and worth. It’s that very often the things that we do amazingly well are not valued and we’re not taught to value it in different realms when it comes to spaces like entrepreneurship.

But when you start writing a sales plan and you start actually putting numbers to what you’re doing, and you start saying, hey, I’m going to make sales calls this week, I’m going to send out emails this week, I’m going to have X number of conversations and then you start pulling back and examining, well, maybe that sales call thing is just not the route for me, it just doesn’t work for me. Maybe there’s another route that I can go and still get the same or even better results really than the sales call,

[17:00] or it could be the reverse. Maybe that is your jam, that could be your way of being able to do it because you stand out in that lane, it’s a lane that few people are in and, oh my gosh, you just rock it out once you get people on the phone. I don’t think that a sales plan should be prescriptive. I want to challenge the notion of that there is one way and one form and one template of doing it. It’s not, it’s not, I want underestimated entrepreneurs to shine in their strength areas because when you shine in your strength area, when you tap into your personal why, and then you put a plan and a process behind it, OMG, I see the examples all the time happen.

I had one of my coaching clients who went in and crushed her crowdfunding campaign. I don’t teach crowdfunding, I don’t, but she applied exactly the same sales planning methods that

[18:00] she learned with working with me and with the group, she applied very similar strategies to get amazing results with her crowdfunding. That for me is how it works because she figured out where her strengths were. We saw it, she saw it, and she just leaned into those strengths really, really hard and that’s why she got the number she got, or another recent win that a client had, where she went from having only a handful of people here and there that were interested in her services and where she was sending only a couple proposals, very sporadically to now there’s like four and five and six follow-ups on an ongoing basis every time we talk and getting to a place I would challenge probably pretty quickly where she’s not going to have room now to be able to take on more clients, which I rejoice over. I’ve had a couple of clients that that’s happened, where they started out with just a handful of clients and then they’ve just blown those numbers through the roof and now they’ve got too many in their act capacity.

[19:00] Well, the genius about that is, is that very often with those clients, they’ve done that and they’ve instituted things like I don’t work on weekends no more, nope, not going to do it, I’m going to find a way to leverage my strengths and build my sales plan around my strengths and then when I’m doing my actual sales work, this is how I’m going to get the results. I’m here for it a thousand percent.

I’m here for transforming what we think about when it comes to being an entrepreneur, what we think about when it comes to being a small business owner, specifically from the perspective of underestimated entrepreneurs. A lot of us are not driven by money, money is important, you need to pay your bills, you definitely need to have the luxuries in life that make you happy. But for a lot of us, the real wind is that impact, I want to see scholarships given to organizations and to causes that I believe in so that money does not become a factor. People can just dive into an area that they want to explore,

[20:00] education, quality education is available, but if we don’t have the resources coming into our businesses, then we’re never going to see that transformation. We’re never going to see the communities that we know that we can transform. We’re never going to see those changes happen and be clear, money doesn’t rule everything and I’m also a thousand percent clear, the institutions are responsible. They need to step in and step up and do the darn work. But in the interim, until folks finally get the memo in the message, I don’t need those of us out there that are incredibly talented, incredibly amazing and so, so, so bringing value to the marketplace, but because only a handful of see what you’re offering, you’re not bringing in the numbers you could. I don’t need to see us waiting until that moment happens.

So I want to challenge you, I will do more episodes on the sales plan and I’ll dive

[21:00] more into some of the themes and some of the tools and the tips and the techniques and things of that nature and the stories, I think the stories are most fascinating, but I want you to start showing up and understanding here’s why under estimated entrepreneurs need a sales plan. I challenge you, if I can be of service of you to be able to help you navigate your sales plan, reach out to me, bring it on, let’s do it. If you know another coach or another program, if that’s what they’re focusing on, then you join in and jump in on that. It doesn’t matter to me, whoever is going to serve you best and remember the reason that you do this work, if we can make an impact on our communities and not just the flowery impact of like, oh, that program was cute, no, no, no, no, no. I’m talking life-changing, game-changing impact, then that’s the reason why you want to dive into the work behind the sales plan to see those wins happen. So here’s me wishing you nothing but success [22:00] and amazingly happy cash flow in your next steps. Have an amazing one guys.