5 Sales Skills Every Entrepreneur Should Master
We may not immediately identify with, or as, salespeople, but the reality is that entrepreneurship is inherently tied to salesmanship. As entrepreneurs, we are always selling — either to customers or investors. Every time we deliver an elevator pitch, negotiate with a vendor, or communicate with potential customers, we are tapping into the art of selling. As in sales, successful entrepreneurship is based upon an ability to connect with and influence key decision-makers. And if you can’t sell your ideas, you won’t stay in business for long.
“As an entrepreneur you are likely the first person to sell your newly developed product,” says Henning Schwinum , Co-Founder of Vendux. “At this stage of your journey you are also the one most familiar with it. And having a business card stating ‘Founder’ gives you instant credibility,”
Schwinum is Co-Founder and Partner at Vendux, a business focused on filling a sales leadership void with interim or fractional sales executives. “Expanding your team, hiring a VP of Sales and a couple of salespeople will eventually be a step in your growth process. But before making this commitment, make sure you’ve gotten out there and closed a few deals yourself.”
Check out these 5 sales skills that every entrepreneur should master to help scale their business:
Identifying the Problem or Pain Point
In order to enhance the value of their business, entrepreneurs must identify their audience and the problems that their product or service will be solving for that audience. Once you’ve identified the pain point, you’re far better equipped to demonstrate the value of what your business is offering. One of the biggest reasons that startups are not successful is directly tied to the fact that entrepreneurs are detached from their respective target markets. According to research by SalesForce , sales are lost because 82% of sales people are not aligned with the needs of their buyer. This is why high-performing salespeople — and entrepreneurs — learn as much about their prospect as possible.
Knowing how to sell is half the battle: it’s nearly impossible to effectively sell to customers or investors if you cannot demonstrate how your product will address their needs. In other words, it’s far more important to sell the benefit — not the features — of your product or service.
Knowing Your Product and Believing in It
Entrepreneurs are dreamers and visionaries. It’s easy to passionately pursue our epiphanies without clearly articulating a plan for how our idea will meet an unmet need in the marketplace. And unfocused or untargeted epiphanies can lead to costly mistakes along your entrepreneurial journey.
Market research is an essential aspect of knowing your product and understanding its potential. This research can be used to determine your potential market, size up your competition, and test the usefulness of your product or service.
Mastering the Art of the Pitch
Developing an excellent sales pitch plays a critical role in your entrepreneurial journey, and it happens to be one of the most under-developed sales skills in entrepreneurs. In order to increase your own confidence during investor meetings and, in turn, win over the confidence of your potential investors, entrepreneurs must craft and perfect their elevator pitch.
The most effective elevator pitches are crafted with the needs of your prospects in mind, and not centered around your product and what makes it amazing. And they are practiced over and over again.
Persistence is one of the primary characteristics of high-performing salespeople, which may explain why roughly 80% of sales are closed on the fifth to twelfth contact.
Startup founders often find that everything seems to take longer than anticipated, and the lack of instant traction and progress can be discouraging. Success is never guaranteed, even when you work hard and pay your dues. But you must continue to believe in your vision even when it seems that no one else does.
The harsh reality is that the ideas and aspirations abandoned by those without the tenacity to pursue them are inevitably pursued by someone who is more persistent. Most successful stories in the business world are written by those who worked hard over an extended period of time.
Rolling with Rejection
You won’t win every deal, and that’s ok. It’s simply the reality of being a salesperson — and an entrepreneur. And while it’s important to understand how you can improve, it’s critical to be able to move on easily from rejection and continue pushing onwards. Experts suggest that rejection becomes easier to handle when it’s viewed as proof that you’re pushing the limits. So, examine why you weren’t successful, then move quickly onwards to bigger and better deals.
On that note, remember to celebrate every win, no matter how small. In a study conducted by Teresa Amabile, professor at Harvard Business School, entrepreneurs who journaled their experiences and tracked their successes were reported to have a far higher rate of motivation. The practice of tracking success, she explains, activates the brain’s reward circuit and results in a sense of accomplishment and pride.
Originally published at https://kccollective.org on January 14, 2020.