You’re in a sales meeting with a potential customer, wondering “When and how do I bring up our social mission?” This is a common question I receive from social entrepreneurs, especially if their mission is to employ potentially customer-controversial populations.
While there are many different strategies on how to incorporate your social mission into your sales pitch, I’ve outlined three specific strategies that I have seen work successfully over the years.
Strategy #1: The first strategy is to lead with the social mission up front and center as the primary reason a customer would want to support your enterprise. This approach is usually the route non-profit enterprises choose as their culture is more mission-driven. It’s also the approach that many social enterprises that sell crafts and artistic items use. This is largely because there aren’t as many “tangible benefits” behind the product so the social mission is the largest selling point.
Example case study: MADE by DWC is a non-profit social enterprise based in Los Angeles that sells handmade products made by homeless and low-income women at the Downtown Women’s Center. The population that is making these products is a key selling point and one that is woven into their branding.
Strategy #2: The second strategy is to lead with other benefits and bring up the social mission near the tail end. Most customers are purchasing a product or service because of a specific benefit to them—they need bed bugs exterminated, they want to feel good about using a shampoo that doesn’t hurt the environment, etc. While your social mission may not be the main reason a customer purchases from you, it may be the tipping point to encourage them to choose you over competitors.
This may also be the right tactic to use if you feel that there will be some push back on your social mission. Draw the customer in before giving them something to question.
Strategy #3: The last, and perhaps most sophisticated, strategy is to find a positive, customer-centric “tangible benefit” that your social mission brings to your enterprise. You, of course, believe in your social mission but this way you are putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and thinking about how they could substantially benefit from the mission as well.
Example Case Study: The Center for Employment Opportunities a national organization employs previously incarcerated people, many of whom are strong, young men capable of doing physically-hard, labor-intensive work. In their sales pitch for work crew jobs, this national organization brings up this benefit of their social mission so it becomes a tangible reason to hire them and helps to alleviate concerns around a potentially controversial mission. Of course, they couple this benefit with the strong supervision and quality work provided.
Whatever role you decide your social mission should play in your sales pitch, keep your target customer’s needs in mind and leverage your mission to better meet those needs. After all, that’s what motivates you. Presented right, it will also motivate a potential customer.
– Neha Gupta is the founder and principal of Belly Fire Branding a brand and marketing strategy firm that focuses on non-profit and for-profit social enterprises.
This is part of REDF’s Farber blog series.