Tips to score in sales and form strategic partnerships

Growing your business sales can come with challenges, especially if they involve partnerships. Here is some advice from Catherine Wijnberg on how to navigate some of the pitfalls.

Two black entrepreneurs wearing aprons for cooking and sitting together.
By Catherine Wijnberg

Business has a tendency to be all or nothing – either we can’t sell a thing, or the sales come in so fast we can’t keep up! It’s important to prepare for the “too many sales” scenario because when we are fearful of too much, we can subconsciously push away business and sabotage our success.

Prepare for highly successful sales by imagining this scenario and play the game in real time with your team so you are physically and mentally ready for it when it happens.

  1. Envisage what your customers will look like and imagine yourself making the sale. Think through how your customers will buy from you. Think how you can make it easy and pleasant for them – and practise this with “test” clients so you are truly prepared and 100% welcoming.

  2. Have a simple, reliable and easy-to-use sales system: invoice every sale and track your earnings.

  3. Manage your money from the very first sale. Use Snapscan, Yoco or Zapper to avoid cash (which is so easily, lost, stolen or spent!)

  4. Stock-take regularly. Stock loss is bad news, so deal with it swiftly. Keep stock levels low to reduce cash flow problems and high enough to maximise sales. “Just in time” stock is ideal.

  5. Be ready to deal with product outages or work overload by practising saying “So sorry, that product is so popular we are out of stock. There is a 6- 8 week delay – would you like to be first in line?  Leave a deposit and we will ship to you!”

  6. Lastly, don’t give credit. Build a business where your customers pay you before they get the goods (or service). Not even large companies like Pick n Pay give credit, Takealot is a service company that takes 100% of your money upfront, so follow their lead.

TO PARTNER OR NOT

The thing I remember most strongly from my business studies course at university was the lecturer saying passionately: “Whatever you do, don’t go into partnership!” Many years and multiple businesses later, I have to agree, with certain qualifications.

Firstly, a partnership is like a marriage in a number of ways. It’s easy to get into but like a divorce, it is a legally binding contract, so is difficult, emotionally painful and often cripplingly expensive to get out of. Partnerships are often great in the beginning, when eyes are full of dreams for the future but can quickly go sour as the parties struggle with the real frustrations of working together. Lastly, the power imbalance in partnerships can leave one party with all the hard work, and the other with all the decision-making power.

The reality is though, two brains in a business is often better than one. And a good working relationship can help shoulder the workload, provide a sounding board for decisions and accelerate the growth of the organisation.

So, how can you get the benefits of a partnership without the pain?  

  1. Avoid relationships (such as a partnership) where there is joint liability. In simple terms, this means if your partner does something illegal, or unprofessional, you are liable. Did you know for example, if you and your partner have a joint company credit card, that you are personally liable for their debt?

  2. Use a collaboration agreement or joint venture with specific end-dates and clear expectations.

  3. Have all your agreements checked by your own lawyer – this will save you a future emotional and financial fortune!

  4. Start with a clear termination process that deals with disputes before they arise – (much like an antenuptial agreement in marriage).

  5. Set clear boundaries, define individual roles and responsibilities and agree to regular and open discussion to keep relationship sweet.

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About the Author

Catherine Wijnberg is the CEO and founder of Fetola.

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