Sassy Sales Suss

Sassy Sales Suss


Lara Bornmann has always believed that if you want business you have to go out there and get it. The founder of promotional clothing, gifting and workwear company, Enigma Promotions, she’s worked hard to land big-name clients such as Nestlé, Old Mutual, WBHO, McCain and Sanlam. Her contracts enabled her to turn a profit in the first six months of operating, increase her turnover by 40% during the recession and grow her one-man business to the point that she recently purchased a clothing manufacturing factory that employs 15 people. Not bad for a twenty-something year-old.

So how does someone with no prior reputation get her foot in the door and come to build such an impressive list of clients? “Good old fashioned cold-calling — but cold-calling that’s done right,” Bornmann says, explaining how she employed two full-time staff members to cold-call eight hours a day. “I trained them how to speak to clients strategically and how to make appointments over the phone,” she says.

She believes the right people, trained properly and incentivised appropriately, can work wonders for a business.“Very few people have the ability to cold-call really well but I knew if I could find the right people they would make my business very successful,” says Bornmann, who used local websites and social networking systems to find the right staff. “I interviewed close to 50 people,” she says, adding that she looked for highly self-motivated people and then incentivised them with bonuses.

“One staff member closed a deal of R290 000 over the phone, without me ever having to go out and meet with the client, and I made sure I rewarded that kind of performance, giving them a percentage of the value of the sale,” she says.

Staff haven’t been the only success factor, however. “The promotions industry is fast-paced, so having systems in place means we are able to deliver quick turnaround and high quality,” she explains. One system that’s worked particularly well enables the company to get quotes out to prospective clients in four hours or less. “I believe that if you wait days to get someone a quote, you lose any advantage you might have gained in getting them interested in your service in the first place. So four hours or less is company policy — it’s a non-negotiable.”

Vital Stats

Company: Enigma Promotions

Player: Lara Bornmann

Started in: 2008

Contact: 0861 ENIGMA

Juliet Pitman
Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.