I’m just going to be blunt. You won’t succeed as an entrepreneur if you don’t know how to sell. Being able to be persuasive is absolutely essential to your success. If you can’t do this, you will be mediocre at best. I’m sorry, but it’s true.
Okay, now that I’ve got that out of the way, here comes the good news: you CAN learn how to be persuasive. It’s not as hard as you think! Yes, it will take time and practice, but if you are serious about it, you can become a great influencer.
So why do you need to learn how to sell? Great question! That’s exactly what this post is about. (Guest post)
Become a Better Leader
John C. Maxwell, author and leadership guru, is known for his claim that “Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less.” It’s true. If you have no influence, you’re not a leader.
What does this fact mean to you?
It means that you need to learn how to sell if you’re going to effectively lead your team. Contrary to popular belief, your employees will not follow you just because you’re the boss. Yes, they may comply with your requests because you’re the boss, but they will not follow you. There’s a difference.
Employees who are complying with your requests are just doing what they need to do to not get fired. They won’t go above and beyond their normal duties. They will not take the initiative to contribute beyond their everyday tasks.
When employees follow you, they take ownership of the vision you have cast. They believe in you and what you’re trying to accomplish and will work hard to move your vision forward.
Here are some ways sales skills can help you become a better leader
- Active listening – If you’re going to influence someone, you need to learn how to listen well. You can’t understand how your vision will benefit them if you don’t know who they are and what they want.
- Positioning – You need to be able to communicate what your vision is and why it matters. According to Simon Sinek, the “why” is even more important than the “how” and the “what.” Don’t just tell them what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Tell them why you’re doing it.
- Address objections – If your team is unsure of your vision, you need to know how to address their concerns in a way that is productive.
Get More Funding
When you’re an entrepreneur, it’s not just your product or service that you are selling. If you want to be adequately funded, you have to also sell the viability of your company.
Investors aren’t going to just take a look at your company and automatically understand why they should give you tons of money. Don’t believe me? Watch an episode of “Shark Tank” and tell me I’m wrong! If you want investors to invest in your dream, you’re going to need to persuade them to do it.
Here’s some sales principles that will help you with investors:
- Qualify your prospect. You have to make sure you pitch your company to the right investors. Not every investor is right for every type of business. Do your research first. Figure out where you’ll get the most “bang for your buck.” Or more “buck for your bang?”
- Develop thick skin. Everyone who is in sales is going to get rejected. A lot. You need to make sure you are strong enough to hear the word “no” over and over again. Winston Churchill said “Success is going from failure to failure without a loss in enthusiasm.” If you keep getting rejected, keep going. Refine your technique. Eventually you will get a “yes.”
- Don’t overdo it. You’re already going to be asking for large sums of money. That being said, you need to make sure you’re only asking for the amount of money you need to reach your objective. Investors are smart. They can figure out whether or not you’re asking for too much.
Of course, it goes without saying that you will need to be able to sell your product or service, right? If you are adept at getting people to buy what your company sells, your business is far more likely to succeed.
Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs do not have a background in sales, so they don’t understand how to persuade a prospect to part with their money in order to obtain the entrepreneur’s product. You might be able to get away with just hiring someone else to sell it for you, but it’s always best when the founder of the company is able to join in on the sale.
Nobody else will be as passionate about your product as you are. That’s why it’s important to at least have some sales skill. You need to present your product in a way that persuades people to buy it.
Here’s some helpful bits of selling advice:
- People don’t care what a product or service is. They care about what the product or service does. When selling, talk about how the product will actually benefit the prospect. Tell them what problem it will solve for them. This is what they want to hear about.
- Build credibility. Do you have any facts, figures, or statistics that will bolster your case? If you don’t, find some. Do some research. Don’t expect your prospect to just take your word for it. If they’re going to give you their money, you need prove to them that they need it.
- Customize your pitch. Don’t use the exact same pitch for each customer. Every prospect has different needs and wants. What works for one may not work for another. Before pitching your product, get to know your prospect. Ask questions. Then, use the information you have gathered to craft an effective sales pitch.
In the world of entrepreneurship, influence is everything. Hone your skills at influence and you will be able to navigate the entrepreneurial journey much easier.
About the author: Jeff Charles is the founder of Artisan Owl Media, an Austin-based content marketing agency that specializes in helping professional service firms increase their influence and earn more clients. You can reach him on Twitter: @ArtisanOwl