27th Oct 2021
Next up in our Client Origin Stories is Corinne Thomas, Founder and MD of Ethical Sales. To me this story really demonstrates the realities of creating and running a new business and how success comes when there is both a real need for and love of what you do. Over to Corinne...
My Founder Story so far….
It felt like a big achievement to sign off Ethical Sales’s first annual accounts with my accountant this week and I have enjoyed taking some time out to reflect on where it all started….
Around two years ago, pre-covid, I was licking my wounds from a failed business venture. I spent a decent chunk of an inheritance launching and funding an online start up, an ecommerce platform of British beauty brands called ‘Rare Beauty’. Despite my best efforts, it did not go to plan and I was wondering what an earth to do next.
I cut my teeth in telesales at just 15 years old so I had a decent career in sales behind me. Having also launched a CSR consultancy in the past I decided to harness these core skills and explore the world of sales and marketing consulting. I won a few clients who liked what I did at Rare Beauty and also, out of curiosity, ran a survey all about sales for ethical businesses.
The results were startling and demonstrated the daily struggle that many ethical businesses face when trying to keep the wheels turning operationally and grow their customer base with sales activities.
The survey takers provided honest and open responses when asked about growing their sales, such as:
“Fear of rejection. Worry about not reaching targets set.”
“When it works – elation! When it doesn’t – fear, disappointment, resilience.”
“Enthusiastic about the possibilities and opportunities. Lack of sales knowledge however makes me feel totally unequipped and daunted.”
Armed with this knowledge I decided to set out on an ethical sales mission. I wanted to harness my skills and experience, to take the sting out of sales for purpose-driven businesses so that they could focus on changing the world, one customer at a time.
Then….covid struck. I was all set to launch the business and the world stopped turning (or felt like it had). The consulting clients I did have and some sales agency work that was paying the bills all but dried up.
It would have been easy at this stage to throw in the towel and give up. After all, I’d done it once before! But this time, it felt different. I also had some encouraging conversations with trusted people who reassured me, and I quote: ‘this one is going to work Corinne, you need to register Ethical Sales as a proper business, and make a plan for future growth’. So I did.
Fast forward to now, post-covid and I am celebrating onboarding our 21st new client by adding to our little grove of trees. We plant trees in honour of our clients with Trees for Life, a rewilding charity in the Scottish Highlands.
My team has grown, and I have an amazing group of talented sales consultants who work with me to deliver strategic and targeted sales campaigns. We love representing our varied clients - from a zero emissions logistics firm to a sustainable fashion online startup and helping them to secure the right b2b sales partners. All our clients have one key thing in common, they are ethical businesses on a mission to change the world. And they need help with their b2b sales!
I’m really proud of our website, built on a shoestring initially, but it now has a whole range of free sales resources to help demystify sales for the ethical business community, from guides to prospecting on LinkedIn to how to make a confident sales call.
And finally, over the Summer, whilst I re-located my young family 550 miles away to live by the sea in the Scottish Highlands, I also launched a sister company with a longstanding business associate.
Ethical Pioneers is a strategic retail and sales growth service for ethical pioneering brands with sustainable values. We launched this month with some fantastic ethical brands and exciting plans for future growth.
If there is one thing I have learnt in the past two years, it is to recognise when business is going well, and trust in my instincts to allow it to flourish!
I am really excited to see what the future holds and honoured to be serving ethical businesses, from early stage startups to established market leaders by being their trusted b2b sales partner.
And I still love talking on the phone!