If you want to enjoy entrepreneurial success it is essential you know how to sell.
Please don’t run away. Sales is definitely not a dirty word. When you are selling something you truly believe in, and you know it is going to benefit the person you are selling to, I don’t believe there is anything better. Done the right way it becomes an enjoyable experience.
Selling is simply convincing a party to accept an idea or agree to an exchange.
“People don’t buy because what you do is awesome. People buy because it makes them feel awesome.”Tara Gentile
The concept of selling is simple. It is to bridge the gap between your potential customer’s needs and the products/services that your organisation offers that can fulfil their needs. Most entrepreneurs know their product inside out, and all they have to do is show its merits to potential customers and demonstrate clearly how it solves their problem. Yet they back away from doing this because they have the belief that selling isn’t for them.
For an entrepreneur selling has to be something they do and become good at.
In fact the need for selling is essential from the very start of the entrepreneurial journey. Entrepreneurs have to make a case for their ideas and products or both to various stakeholders (investors, partners, suppliers, channels, customers, talents, etc.). So, there’s no getting away from the need to become sales people.
At some point every entrepreneur has to present their business plan to a banker, a lawyer, an accountant, maybe a group of investors. While the contents and details of their business plan are critical, the way they present it is of equal importance. How you communicate your vision and supporting details in a clear, concise, and confident manner can make the difference between getting financial or other support or walking away empty handed. Basically you need to be selling ‘yourself.’
So there is no getting away from the fact that Entrepreneurs must develop the knowledge, skill and discipline necessary to succeed in sales and enjoy entrepreneurial success. In fact sales are the absolute lifeblood of entrepreneurial success.
“Selling is something we do for our clients – not to our clients.”Zig Ziglar
Of course knowing how to sell isn’t your motivation for becoming an entrepreneur. The start of an entrepreneurial journey sees the entrepreneur motivated by the possible reward structure alongside having a vision that sees new products and services that can meet and exceed customers’ needs and the imagination and passion to bring them to market.
This though has to be met by the ability to get the entire project off the ground, keep it running and growing. That is what it takes for entrepreneurial success to be possible.
This growth depends on sales.
Entrepreneurship therefore is about helping people see the benefit of a new way
of doing things; it’s about having an idea and having the passion and perseverance
to make it come alive, but this has to be matched by the ability to sell because
without sales nothing but failure can occur. Sales are to businesses, like
oxygen is to humans. Without it your business will suffocate and die.
“Nothing happens until someone sells something.”Henry Ford
Let me make this absolutely clear. Entrepreneurial success very much depends on the entrepreneurs ability to sell.
There is barely any industry that isn’t exploding with products and/or services. From healthcare to IT to restaurants and coffee shops. We are swamped with endless options, the birth of new products and services. Alas out of every 10 new businesses that start, 8 will fail within 2 years. What sets those that succeed from those that fail, is the ability to sell their products or services. Even brilliant customer service cowers before sales. After all what clients would you have without being able to sell. Very few in truth. You don’t have a business without sales.
Every entrepreneur thinks that their idea can change the world. But do they actually have the sales ability to successfully get it to market? Entrepreneurial success depends on it.
I was born into a sales family. With my godfathers starting Pearl & Dean, the cinema advertising company, my dad starting as a salesman became sales director, and both my uncles, dad’s brothers were also in the business. So, as it’s said sales is in my blood.
The most important lesson my dad taught me from his years in business was the importance of knowing how to sell. He told me, “Larry, always remember this: Anybody can build anything. But, if you can’t sell it, none of it matters at all.”
There can be no surprise then that in my teens, together with my friend Stephen Marks, we started working on our own market stalls. Hey, we were entrepreneurs in our teens. Selling sunglasses and umbrellas. Men for all seasons was our motto.
A market stall can be a great place to hone your selling skills also taught me how to engage complete strangers without being pushy. We weren’t the only ones to start our entrepreneurial success journey in markets.
Marks & Spencer first started at Kirkgate Market, Leeds, in 1884, as a penny bazaar. Their motto was ‘don’t ask the price, it’s a penny’.
The problem is that for most people selling doesn’t come naturally; in fact the prospect of approaching a stranger to sell them something fills them with dread.
Entrepreneur Ed Hollands who secured £30,000 from one of the country’s most distinguished startup investors Jenny Campbell for his business Driven Media, an agency working with brands to advertise on the sides and backs of lorries, trucks and vans said: “Selling the space to would-be advertisers proved to be the hard bit. I had no experience of learning to sell, and a real scatter gun approach to the advertising industry.
Many entrepreneurs come to understand that fear is a barrier that can be overcome and selling is a skill that can be mastered. The joys of success are simply wonderful, a natural high.
Richard Branson, Virgin Group Founder said “There aren’t many more thrilling moments for an entrepreneur than clinching your first sale.”
Many are in businesses that would not normally be considered sales professions. Accountants, medical, financial consultants, contractors, home repair, banks, all types of businesses are now clearly realizing that in order to survive in today’s economy they need to get out there and sell themselves and their product or service.
The truth is selling isn’t that hard, especially for entrepreneurs who know their products inside out.
“The deeper the dialogue, the greater the sales results.”
Ultimately each entrepreneur’s ability to sell will determine their level of success, or failure. A massive part of running a successful business is marketing and sales. You could have the best product or service in the world, and have all the systems in place you could dream of, but if you’re not out there selling to customers, your business will be dead in the water.
You don’t have to be born a salesperson to be good at it but you have to embrace the role of a sales person. Sales keep the business afloat and facilitate growth. One may have the best product in the world. However, if they aren’t making any sales then it means nothing.
Here are some key pointers you need to adopt to become a good sales person and enjoy entrepreneurial success.
KNOW YOUR PRODUCT
Entrepreneurs normally have a very close and emotional connection with their products. Due to the time you’ve spent developing and perfecting your product you should know it inside out.
You need to be knowledgeable, down to every detail, on the products you sell being able to answer all your customers questions. You need to be an expert on product use, mechanics, systems, operations, everything. What is particularly important for you to know is the true value of your product particularly in how it offers a solution to specific problems.
“Make your product easier to buy than your competition, or you will find your customers buying from them, not you.”Mark Cuban
BE A CONSULTANT, NOT A SALES PERSON
Be someone who actually cares, wanting to do what is best for your client as well as yourself. We are talking about win-win. A concept Stephen Covey made famous. It is so important that you seek to understand your prospects’ unique problems to ensure your product or service is the best fit for their needs.
Gary Vaynerchuk, American entrepreneur, author, speaker and internet personality, considers himself a salesman first, but he says that he owes his success to his authenticity. People don’t want to feel scammed, they want to feel helped by an expert. “If I don’t feel good about what I’m selling, I’m dead.”
The most successful salespeople in the world don’t come across as salespeople at all. Instead, they carry themselves as experts in their industry who can solve key challenges for their ideal prospects. To be the best salesperson, put yourself in the shoes of the person to whom you’re selling and you solve their problems.
“If you are not taking care of your customer, your competitor will.”Bob Hooey
SHOW YOUR PASSION
Know your product, believe in it, communicate that passion – but don’t oversell it! When a salesperson believes in what they are selling, it is more exciting for them to sell. That passion will always come across, your belief in what you are selling will shine through. That authenticity above anything else will be a strong convincer to any client.
“Ninety percent of selling is conviction and 10 percent is persuasion.”Shiv Khera
Expect bumps, detours, and complete failure at times. The simplest lesson I can teach is be prepared to hear the word ‘no.’ In fact to every yes you get, there will probably be 9 ‘nos.’ Despite setbacks, persevere, and work hard to ignore the negatives to focus all your energy on the next sales meet. Every ‘no’ you hear, you just know that you’re getting closer to the next ‘yes.’ Rejection is a very real part of selling, a great salesperson isn’t easily discouraged, and doesn’t take the rejection on a personal level. Make sure you learn from every ‘no’ and accept that you can constantly improve. That’s the benefit of each rejection. You can learn something from it.
“You have to see failure as the beginning and the middle, but never entertain it as an end.”Jessica Herrin, CEO Stella & Dot
DON’T JUST HEAR–LISTEN
Perhaps the most important skill that good salespeople possess is the ability to truly listen to a prospect without agenda. Don’t be formulating responses to objections in your head; really listen to your prospect. It’s called active listening. Fully concentrating on what the prospect is saying. Listen rather than just hear.
Great salespeople have two ears that work. They possess the ability to listen intently and facilitate dialogue by asking questions. They can qualify and quantify what’s actually being said, not just what they want to hear. When you fully listen you will be guided by the clients needs, and be able to facilitate a transfer of the benefits they really seek.
“Allow other people to speak first; the important factor is not who talks… it’s who listens.”Ilana Eberson
BELIEVE IN CLIENTS FOR LIFE
Understand that the sale doesn’t stop at the close of the deal. The sale continues as long as the customer is using your services. At some point they may be complications, and then it is up to you to ensure you help get things sorted getting your customer issues resolved in as quickly and efficiently a fashion as possible. Don’t forget about your client as soon a the sale ends. Keep in contact with no other reason than saying ‘hi.’ Your client matters and nurturing a long term relationship will benefit everybody.
“Make a customer, not a sale.”Katherine Barchetti
The more organized you are with customer information, the more notes you take from every contact you have with them, the better able you are to keep your customers happy long-term. Every contact you have with them needs to be recorded, all the important things they tell you need to be detailed, as well as all the personal things they tell you need to be put down. Everything they tell you is important. Show them the respect of remembering. Always diarise a follow up call. Never leave it to long without some contact. Even a Christmas card sent is a sign to them that you deem them as important.
“Great salespeople are relationship builders who provide value and help their customers win.”Jeffrey Gitomer
Resilience is another trait that all sales people need. The ability to bounce back (and quickly) when things don’t go as you had hoped ensure consistent sales results. The Harvard Business Review cited resilience as the number one characteristic of a great salesperson. Sales are full of ups and downs. The salesperson that can bounce back will see success more consistently. We all have bad days, even weeks. Just like the football striker that goes 10 or more games without scoring a goal. They don’t quit, they know the tide will turn, as it will for you.
“Someone said adversity builds character, but someone else said adversity reveals character. I’m pleasantly surprised with my resilience. I persevere, and not just blindly. I take the best, get rid of the rest, and move on, realizing that you can make a choice to take the good.”Brooke Shields
You need the self motivation to make those calls, attend those meetings, send out those emails, doing all the different jobs necessary to make a sale. Yes, I’m sure you can find far more fun distractions, but those aren’t going to help you build the business of your dreams. Selling gives you an opportunity, a huge opportunity and you have to push yourself to keep going, follow the process and make those sales. Having myself been a commission only sales agent, I can assure you there’s no better motivation than earning commission. Every month you would set yourself an attractive target, and work as hard as you could to earn it. There is nothing better.
“You are your master. Only you have the master keys to open the inner locks.”Amit Ray
LET’S CONCLUDE THIS
Behind every great idea, stands an entrepreneur. But behind every entrepreneurial success stands a salesperson. Nobody is going to know or care about your product, unless you sell it, and sell it well. I’ll say it again, entrepreneurial success depends on you being able to sell. There are many components necessary for entrepreneurial success but there are also many benefits that make the journey, no matter how hard, truly worth it. Read about them in this previous article.
” I like to think of sales as the ability to gracefully persuade, not manipulate, a person or persons into a win-win situation.”Bo Bennett
If you are an entrepreneur that just knows selling is not your best skill, then I have a solution for you. I work with Commission Crowd who have built an incredible platform putting businesses together with commission only sales agents who work in their market place. They create business marriages to ensure you can enjoy entrepreneurial success. Take a look at their website you won’t regret it.