One week after the national celebration of Small Business Week, Diversity Business Strategist Shayna Rattler is waving the flag for women and minority business owners. She shows them how to attract and retain lucrative corporate contracts.
Rattler says that only 2% of women and minority owned businesses break the $1 million revenue mark. Of those, 56% of their sales come from corporate clients. The trouble is, most women don’t know how to make a winning approach to earn or retain the business.
Guiding clients on both sides of the equation – corporate decision maker and small business owner to make solid connections to advance profits, gain efficiencies, and support economic development – is Rattler’s focus. As CEO and founder of Supplier Diversity Academy, her speaking and training programs have helped create scores and scores of winning connections to invite new possibilities, enhanced performance, and greater rewards since 2008.
“The list of things to start, stop and keep doing to earn serious consideration and rewards is long, and the upside for those who take action is huge,” Rattler says.
- When pitching new business, stop tossing your needle in the haystack with hopes of scoring pay dirt. Narrow your search for the right decision maker by visiting the “Contact Us” section of the website and finding the right name and department to make your first point of contact. For example, training and human resources departments are good places to start to pitch indirect purchases. Procurement and supplier diversity are good places to start to pitch direct purchases.
- Pay attention, customize, and personalize. That means watching the news media, reading the corporate communications, and reviewing the corporate social responsibility report to determine how your services, philosophy, and approach are a great fit before making an approach.
- Timing is everything. “The urgent issue always trumps the important,” Rattler says. “A company contending with sexual harassment lawsuits is going to be in the market for training to solve that problem right now.”
- Don’t underestimate the importance of your business financial health when pitching corporate contracts. Rattler says that corporate clients will check Dun and Bradstreet and other risk profiles to determine that potential vendors pay their bills on time. This is especially important for small business owners with fewer than three years of operations.
- Take care to demonstrate sound operational health, as well. The tools, systems, and staff supporting the enterprise need to be well honed to execute flawlessly. “Be prepared to describe and demonstrate processes and results in specific, terrific terms to earn client confidence that you have what it takes to deliver as promised,” Rattler advises.
- Price your proposals fairly to be taken seriously. “Steer clear of being the low cost provider. Be the BEST VALUE and BEST RESULTS provider so you never leave good money on the table.” Rattler suggests.
- Start communicating your value from the first point of contact so the benefits you offer your client are crystal clear.
- Practice the fine art of follow up. This applies to both pitching the business and servicing the client after the sale. Get clarity around how much communication, reporting, and follow up the client expects from the start, and aim to meet and exceed that expectation with winning results.
- Deliver a unique experience that is memorable, remarkable, and worth talking about. In doing so, you earn the privilege to obtain repeat business and referrals to new business.
- Continue to invest in your own professional skills and development to bring best practices to life for your client.