“The ability to sell is the number one skill in business. If you cannot sell, don’t bother thinking about becoming a business owner.” – Robert Kiyosaki
Does anybody actually LIKE selling? There may be a few poor and tortured souls who do but, by and large, most entrepreneurs consider it an absolutely loathsome part of their business. Selling is one of those things that generally is regarded as a necessary evil. The “red-headed stepchild” of the business world. Everybody knows they need it, nobody really wants to do it.
Starting today, you should embrace your inner salesman and begin the process of learning to love the role.
Think about it. It is more than just selling a product or a service. You need to sell the idea, your plan and the benefits of your product or service to your investor, lender, partner and customer.
The simple truth is that you’re selling all the time, even when you don’t want to admit it. If you have a great idea for a start-up, you sell your idea to key people you’d like to add to your organization. If you sell it well, you’ll get them on your team. If you do a bad sales job, you’ll lose them as potential employees.
When it’s time to raise money for your venture, you’ve got to pitch (which is a more polite word for “sell”) your idea to the bank, investor or whomever you’re trying to get to write you a check.
Whatever your business is, you’ve got a product or a service to offer. If you don’t sell it you don’t make money. So, admit it! You’re CONSTANTLY selling. It’s a necessary component of your life as an entrepreneur. The sooner you come to terms with that, the better off you’ll be. The sooner you embrace it, the sooner your business will begin not just to survive, but to thrive.
If you don’t consider yourself a “natural” salesperson, one of your first and biggest priorities should be to find someone who is. And to recruit that person to your cause. The best approach, however, would be to do both.
Get good at selling yourself and recruit a great salesperson to help you. Even if you’re an Ace, a great salesperson will be one of the most important people at your fledgling company. In either case, you’ll find some tips to help you on your journey to embracing your inner salesman.
Getting Past The Sleaze Factor
One reason that so many people dislike selling is that the first image that generally springs to mind is the image of the archetypal “Used Car Salesman.” It just has kind of a sleazy, deceptive feel to it. After all, in order to make money, you’ve got to sell the product for more than it’s worth. Further, you’ve got to make it sound like it’s worth even more, so that your customers feel they’re getting a good deal. The whole thing can leave people feeling a bit queasy.
That’s mostly because they’re looking at it the wrong way. In the first place, the “selling price” of your product or service is more than the sum of its parts. Your product is worth more than the parts that went into making it, because your customers aren’t “simply” buying your product. They’re buying access to you in the form of support. They’re buying your time and expertise.
Everyone understands that businesses don’t stay in business unless there’s a profit margin. So, get out of the habit of seeing your product or service as simply a collection of components. It’s much more than that. The moment you fully understand and appreciate that, much of the “sleaze-factor” goes away on its own.
Face it. If nobody likes you, you’re not going to sell much of anything. Think about how quickly and completely social networks have come to dominate the internet. Why? Because people like spending time with their friends, and they trust the opinions of their friends. What’s more likely to get you to make a purchase: a random popup ad from a site on the internet or a recommendation from a trusted friend on one of the social networks you visit?
There is vast power in friendship. Friendship builds trust, and trust builds bridges. It may take months, or even years for those bridges to pay off. But they always do in the end. And usually right when you need them the most. Forget high pressure sales tactics. Be friendly and be available.
Note that one component of being friends is to make recommendations, even if those recommendations are for a competitor’s product. Few things strengthen the bond of friendship more quickly and build trust than making a good recommendation to a client. Even if what you recommend isn’t your product or service (and in truth, especially if it isn’t)! From that moment forward, you’re going to be considered a trusted expert and you WILL get business.
Where the “friend thing” is concerned it’s a two-way street. It’s always easier to sell to someone you personally like than to someone you’re indifferent about or can’t stand. Whenever possible, do business with people you actually like and you’ll go far.
Don’t even try to sell something you’re not passionate about. If you’re an entrepreneur at the helm of your own start-up, this base is probably covered. You wouldn’t have founded the company if you weren’t passionate about your idea, right? Even so, this dimension of sales deserves a mention, because you won’t get far without it.
The Power Of “No”
This relates to the power of supply and demand. There’s only so much of you. The more you give of yourself, the less there is of you. One of the biggest challenges you’ll face is learning which projects to devote yourself to and which ones aren’t worth your time. The less available you are the more in-demand you’ll be. Save yourself for the highest profile endeavors with the biggest payouts. Either delegate or refuse the rest.
Sell to someone once and you’ll make money. Plant a seed and nurture it. Let it grow, and you’ll sell to your customer for life. This is why building friendships, trust and your reputation as an expert in your field is so important. These things may not have an immediate payout, but a reputation is built exactly one customer interaction at a time.
Reputations are much easier to destroy than they are to create. But, if you’re careful and diligent about planting seeds everywhere you go, every single day, they’ll eventually turn into a garden that will have you reaping a steady, profitable harvest.
The bottom line though, and the reason that the tips above are so crucial to your business, is that without sales, you don’t have a business. You have a hobby. If a hobby is all you want, that’s fine. But, whatever the business of your business is, sales drive it. Embrace that.
“If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.” – Zig Ziglar