Sales
With Cheryl Folan

Wikipedia defines a sale as the act of selling a product or service in return for money or other compensation. It is an act of completion of a commercial activity.

Why make money?

Selling is essential if you are going to make any money. Money is useful. If you find yourself disliking the concept of making money, think about the following things:

Are you responsible with money? People who are principled but irresponsible with money tend to dislike the concept of money.

We already tried bartering. It is an anachronistic concept as it is difficult to track the values of products and activities in a large scale system and expectations are damaged. Money was designed to formalise the bartering system and to enable checks and balances to be applied so people understood who owed whom what.

Is it money you dislike, or greed, excess and manipulation? These are different concepts, although they can be confused with each other.

You can use your money to invest in your friends and their projects. If you have too much money use it to buy food and houses for the homeless.

A primer

Click on the following terms to read their definitions on wikipedia:

Sales, Point of sale, Marketing, Supplier, Supply chain, Manufacturer, Accountancy, Marketplace, Economics, Online shopping, Accountability, , Venture capital, Market segmentation, Vertical market, Horizontal market.

Take the time to understand these concepts. Have a think about how you can be creative about the way in which you manage your projects.

Practical selling

We can make sales in shops, online, in people's homes, direct to businesses or on the street.

Look into shops and stalls. You can sell products yourself or place them in existing shops. A rule of thumb is you have to multiply manufacturing costs by 2 to work out a sales price or by 4 if you are selling through someone else. If you sell on the street, you may need a licence. Arrange a meeting with a government funding body to talk about this. Remember, if you're homeless, the government may be able to help get you started. Salespeople may buy stock from the manufacturer, or pay retrospectively. Make sure everyone gets paid fairly. Take time to respect the fact that people are taking the time to help you. Become involved in local fetes and car boot sales. You need stock to sell, which your team members can work on. For example art, music (Sell Triplanetary's music online, as CDs, on data sticks, give it away too), poetry, comics (for example, a compilation of the tales of the one eyed rabbit), books and short stories. Make your products so they catch the public's eye. They should be colourful and explained clearly in a manner people can understand. Good team work and politeness goes a long way. Be someone the general public will like. Be enjoyable to talk to, don't bore your customer.

Your products should be something everyone can enjoy, something with which they can enthuse their friends and family. Think about what you and your team can make yourself, cheaply (eg the rabbit logo as a badge or teeshirt). If you sell teeshirts, start with laser prints (expensive) and short runs of single colour lithographic prints (cheap). Have open days (eg. at Map Studio Cafe) or at member's homes to spread the word. Remember people are your greatest asset. Take the time to get them involved. Remember you'll have to work out how to store your stock safely and to transport it to your sales points in time to sell it. You'll also need someone ready to deliver online sales.

Accountancy Start by accumulating money in one place and distributing it fairly where necessary. Make a note of income and expenditure. You can claim back on expenses. Learn about VAT and when it is applicable and when it's not. Invest in an accountant as soon as possible to get advice on how to do things properly later. Work with government advisory agencies to find out how this might affect your benefits. There are many schemes for helping new businesses, look them up.

Supply chains Look into your supply chains. Think about how you can set up and manage multiple supply chains. It's hard to manage and implement a supply chain on your own. Divide the responsibility between your team. Work to the strenghts of the people you're dealing with. Don't try to overcome people's weaknesses. If someone isn't good at something, don't force them to do it.

Salespeople and manufactures A salesperson has to get to work on time, a manufacturer doesn't. Someone engaging in marketing can do so in their own time. Bear this in mind, different people have different strengths and weaknesses as regards timekeeping. Don't ask a forgetful person to manage a process. Don't forget to pay your managers. Be aware of how much time and effort people are putting into your operation and reward them appropriately. Don't forget about your distributors and the people transporting goods. They need to be paid to.

Shop around Different manufacturers and services charge different prices. Don't go for the first offer you get. If you have money consider taking your manufacturing in-house. You save money when you control the supply chain. Balance internal and external suppliers. Even external suppliers have to eat.

Direct selling Use a team of two or three people. Train them to sell your product and give them leaflets and other sales tools to make their task easier. Make sure they can explain what they are selling in simple terms. Call up local organisations and ask if they can help by putting up posters and a few other items in their shopes. Ask to speak to the manager. Give people a rucksack full of items to sell and send them out there. Ask people to communicate about your projects and share information on facebook or in person.

The best teams have complementary skills and working styles. A percentage of sales should go to the salesperson. People who spend the money they earn before they can return it to the manufacturer or manager should be independent and buy stock on an ad hoc basis. Prices should be agreed before hand.

You can invest in infrastructure, people and non profit projects. You can pay people more regularly, or in advance, once you have more money rolling in. Learn to manage your money. People working should note their hours in a Google Spreadsheet made for the task. This can be shared within the team. Sometimes it's healthy to start people off working for free, just so they don't get used to the idea of being coerced with money. Enthusiasm and a strong work ethic should come from within and not be enforced through the use of payment as a means of coercion, ideally. People who are not enthusiastic won't become any more enthusiastic just because they are getting paid, though they will develop the predisposition to lie to you about their working hours.

Fundraising

You can fundraise for the group or for non profit projects online using crowd funding, or offline by holding events or selling items where a percentage goes into your project. You can also use collection boxes, buckets or by offering products (badges, leaflets etc) for free then asking for a donation. Think about how you can manage your team to work on fundraising drives. You may also leaflet private properties and workplaces with information on your projects and a means to donate online. Leaflets can contain information on multiple projects to save money.


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