Selling the EARN Program - Inside and Out

Kathleen Niedermayer ·

Selling, to me, means presenting your product or service in the best possible light. It means presenting the features and benefits of the product or service as it relates to the needs, wants and values of the potential customer or client. I learned, long ago, when people are considering purchasing or buying into a product or service, everyone listens to the radio station WIFM which translated reads; What’s In It For Me? Before anyone makes a commitment, they ask themselves consciously or subconsciously that key question.

Let’s start first by selling the EARN program on the “inside.” By inside, I mean selling to our clients who are sent to EARN by their county case managers as part of the client’s agreement for receiving benefits like cash assistance, food stamps, child care and other resources from their county.

When clients first arrive, they usually have very little knowledge of our program, let alone the benefits of their participation. They just know they had to come here or they would be in jeopardy of losing their much needed benefits. Some think of the program upon their arrival as “doing time” without the bars. Others don’t have a clue about EARN and are either afraid to come and dreading the unknown experience or resentful of the stipulations of required attendance. Many are determined to chalk this up to another bad, but necessary, life experience. As our program’s Job Developer, a.k.a. Fairy Jobmother, when I conduct their first one-on-one interview with me, and talk about their dream job, it naturally leads into a conversation about “what’s in it for them” to participate in the EARN program.

As we spend some time together and they begin to relax, I ask if they have seen or read “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” If they have, my next question is, “Do you remember when Charlie found the Golden Ticket?” (If they haven’t read or seen it, I will give them a brief synopsis then tell them about the ticket.) “Do you remember how excited he was for the opportunity?” They usually reply, “Yes.” At that point I say, “CONGRATULATIONS! By being selected for the EARN PROGRAM, you have won a Golden Opportunity. Now, let me tell you why I say that.” And thus begins our journey together. I explain that the program can provide them with a chance to take a breath in their life and make a plan to move forward in all areas for themselves, their children and the people they love most. I explain that participation is a chance, not for a do over of the past, but a “do forward” and tell them it’s a time not to focus on the past but embrace their future in a new way.

I explain that our team is here to help them each step of the way, through the process of joblessness to employment. We are also here to act as resources to other organizations in their communities that stand willing to help them with many life challenges such as homelessness, abuse, special needs children, financial management, and mental, emotional and spiritual health issues for the entire family. I also explain we will put 100% effort into helping them succeed, and we ask that they do the same for themselves. For many clients this is an entirely new experience, so they may be hesitant or skeptical to believe it could be true. I like share a couple of testimonials from former clients like Denise who said, “I am so glad I took the opportunity to come to EARN. I now have my dream job through sticking with the program.” Or Angela who said, “Whenever my case worker told me in the past that I had to come to EARN, I hurried up and found any job I could to avoid coming here. I am so glad that this time I came to EARN. I have not one job, but two, and I like them both and I am finally able to take care of my children.”

Does it work 100% of the time? Probably not, but those who understand that we offer a chance to make some changes and move forward in life embrace the opportunity and go for the gold!

Secondly, let’s talk about selling “outside.” By outside, I am speaking about selling EARN to current and potential employers. As I visit employers and meet with them, I carry printed information to share and leave about EDSI and our program, as well as other possible programs and resources that might benefit them through other partners in our host location sites. As with clients, I mention being involved with EDSI and EARN as a Golden Opportunity. (I don’t usually mention Willy Wonka. ☺) I try to address their needs, wants and values by addressing their WIFM. Prior to talking though, I ask a lot of questions including, “How did your company get started?” Most employers love to talk about the rich history and beginnings of their company, so be prepared to listen. While you are listening, you will pick up some of the deeper values of the company. Then ask, “Who would be your ideal hire?” Again, listen and take notes in order to discover their wants. Then ask, “If I recommend one of my clients to you, what would you say are your 3 top needs in a new employee?”

As a consequence of these conversations, not by magic, but by paying close attention, you will learn their values, needs and wants. Be sure to share some of the benefits about participating with us to them as well. EARN and other workforce programs are provided at no cost to them. We have job-ready candidates eager and willing to accept the opportunity for a new job. These employers would be helping put people back to work and benefit not only their company but the communities in which they work as well. There are even potential resources that could provide employers with training dollars and cost coverage, as well as some federally funded programs that will allow them to hire someone for “a low or even no cost” trial time period; sort of a “try it before you buy it” program for employers.

After forming great relationships with employers, our company is also able to assist in providing consulting services to assist with strategic people planning and business planning initiatives. As a company, EDSI provides SOLUTIONS to the complex needs of large, medium and small businesses. It’s all about doing the right thing in the market place to make it a better place.

Selling is based on building strong relationships founded on integrity and service. It’s about helping to provide what individuals and companies need, want and value. It’s about answering the “WIFM?” of individuals and companies. The WIFM for me as a Job Developer with EDSI is that I get to have a positive impact on the people I serve. I am grateful to make a contribution to enhancing another human being’s life and those he/she comes in contact with, by providing a better future. For me, it’s all about paying it forward.

From the Wand of the Fairy Job Mother a.k.a. EARN Job Developer