‘Apelila Ho‘ohana: Bottom-Line Aloha, the Art of the Sale

Since Managing with Aloha has been released, I’ve found that the single biggest misconception about incorporating the values of aloha into the business environment is this, paraphrased from more than a few tentatively asked questions in my presentations and coaching:

“I understand the worth of managing people well, but can you really make a good profit with so much emphasis on something as warm and fuzzy as aloha?”

You bet you can.

Interacting with people on the basis of shared aloha is the only way I know of to make the sale and have everyone feel good about it. Not pitched to, not ripped off, not misled, not undervalued, not used and abused, yet still sold to, and happy for having made the transaction. ‘Sell’ need not be a four-letter word (with push, hawk, plug, deal and hard sell — what four-letter word were you thinking of?)

“We don’t sell, we help the customer buy.”
Motto of the Mea Ho‘okipa of the Club Shop at Hualalai

Selling does have a stigma to it. It’s largely been my experience that most people instinctively hate to sell (culturally a virtual given in Hawaii) yet businesses need sales to happen.

Sales = cash flow.
More cash in than cash out = profit.
Pretty simple.

This month our Ho‘ohana theme is about selling, something all of us in business have got to do. We’ll call it Bottom-Line Aloha, the Art of the Sale.

Count me among those who when pressed with the fundamentals of it will say, “I hate to sell.” In fact, Gallup aficionado that I am, the only book in the strengths management series that I have not read is the one called Discover Your Sales Strengths. Never even bothered to pick it up and scan the jacket blurbs, for the voice in my head would be saying, “Nope, not for me. No sales strengths to cultivate in this manager, not a single one.”

Over the years, as I’d interview people applying for sales positions who said the exact opposite thing, “I love to sell!” I’d try my best to get into their heads and figure out exactly what it was they loved about it, completely unable to personally relate to their enthusiasm. (I do have a theory on this that I’ll share with you in future posts this month.) Those were usually the longest interviews I’d conduct because I was so sure they were trying pull something over on me. Yes, I was convinced they were selling me something. You get the irony too? Unbelievably, back then I didn’t.

Since founding Say Leadership Coaching I’m discovering that I really enjoy marketing, however I still do not care for sales. I think it stems from the fact that I am a very lousy closer.

But once you become an entrepreneur and self-employed, hating sales and not making the sale is not an option. You don’t necessarily have to do it yourself, but it if you don’t, you better get someone to do it for you, and you better take care of everything else so they don’t encounter any roadblocks.

In my case that’s what I’ve begun to do in assembling my ‘Ohana in Business, creating partnerships with people who have the strengths which I don’t have. And in particular, if you are a good sales person and Mea Ho‘okipa I’m looking for you!

I’ve been told by many people that Managing with Aloha is a very good book, and it is a product that I should be very proud of. I am proud of it, but I’m pretty miserable at personally selling it, other than when I get in front of a room full of people and give a speech about what’s written in it (if I may say so, I am good at that). I give thanks daily for the wonderful people I have at Island Heritage who do the day-to-day sales for me, and the generous bloggers who have evangelized about MWA on my behalf.

Thing is, my book is only one of the things that must be sold at Say Leadership Coaching, and being in business, chances are you’ve got to sell something too.

So this month kākou, together, we are going to tackle Bottom Line Aloha, the Art of the Sale, me in my business, you in yours. Let’s learn together, and get better at making our profits happen, doing it with aloha.

Let’s talk story, shall we?

Footnote 1: If you love sales, have learned to manage salespeople well, are a leader passionate about sales reinvention, or can share any nuance of the art of the sale at all (perhaps a sales book review?) We want to hear from you this month! Please participate in our April Talking Story Meme. Details are here.

Footnote 2: I’d like to give credit where credit is due: I took the phrase Bottom-Line Aloha from the write-up for Managing with Aloha in the current Spirit of Aloha, the in-flight magazine for Aloha Airlines. It’s got a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

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  1. says

    A brand new month! Wow! And a brand new topic!
    I am hoping to round off a bitter edge this month. I am an operations guy. But I do have to present stuff for customers to hopefully agree on and buy. What takes the edge off of the “sales” part of this process, is the service that is delivered prior to my attempt to get the customer to buy more. It is outstanding. Most customers don’t even ask how much…that’s how good the service is. This part isn’t a problem.
    The problem is when they start nit-picking and haggling. I hate this part. Every molecule in my body says, “get the heck out of my face.” Although my words don’t say this, I am sure my tone does. This probably isn’t good.
    Here is the part where I would have to handle poisonous snakes: I cannot fathom being a real salesaman. The part where you do not deliver the outstanding service first…the part where you start from scratch. Yewww! This probably isn’t good. So in order to get over my fear of snakes, I know I must one day handle them. In order to rid myself of the utter disgust I hold for sales, I must put myself in their place and learn.
    I am here to learn.

  2. says

    When I founded AssistU.com more than eight years ago, I knew, instinctively, that the old “masculine” model of business (the one where the bottom line rules the day and controls everything within the organization) wasn’t for me. And so I created a very feminine model of business–an inside-out model of business–where people matter most; where cooperation and collaboration are the norms; where individuality is celebrated, both generally, and within the context of the culture of the company; where the concept of abundance is embraced and where fear simply doesn’t have a reason to live.
    I knew that a model that honored the people who they are) *first* would lead them to naturally (as opposed to artificially) drive (what they do) the bottom line, and people would be far happier in their work, and with the fullness and richness of their service/contributions.
    AssistU is successful with this model, and it’s the model we offer to every Virtual Assistant we train so that they can bring that same spirit to their own businesses.
    Inherent in the model is another concept;attraction. It’s a way of being in the world that, for me, makes everything easier. If you recognize that all of us attract everything around us, all the time, and you apply that on a business level, you quickly see that there’s no real need for traditional selling (where you work to make customers buy what you have, whether or not they genuinely need it).
    Instead, being authentic, being service oriented, having high standards for yourself and your work/business/product(s)/service(s)(and not compromising them for anyone), not settling for less than all you deserve, and freely sharing yourself with others, not only attract folks to you, they cause the *right* folks to be attracted to you, thus creating a natural market to tap.
    Sales is push. Attraction is pull. It’s organic, it’s easier, it *feels* great, and it works. Having said that, it takes longer to build a business this way than it would to hire a sales force (or sell on your own) to do it for you, but it’s self-sustaining and growth-oriented in a way that sales never could be.
    The members of the Ho’ohana community that I’m starting to meet and chat with all fit somewhere within this attraction-based model. We all want to be profitable in our businesses, but not by sacrificing our souls to do it (something I’m convinced many sales folks do).
    I don’t believe in coincidence. There’s a reason (probably several, in fact!) that we’re all here, you know?