Successful Selling Strategies for the Entrepreneur - Part 1
By Dr Paul E Adams | October 31, 2000
"Nothing happens until someone sells something" is a time worn cliché that was ignored by many bankrupt entrepreneurs. It is too bad that some people when starting a business have a fear and dislike of selling, as it is rare that any successful entrepreneur fails to master the fundamentals of this most basic of all business skills.
Peter, a recent business graduate, broke out in a rash the first time he went with his manager on a sales call. During the presentation, whenever his boss turned the sales pitch over to him, he fumbled for words trying to remember the canned presentation that he had been required to memorize. The next day he quit-ending his sales career and forever coloring his opinion of selling.
During the summer of his junior year, Albert, marketing major, hoping to gain sales experience, took a straight commission job selling home improvements to the elderly living in low-income neighborhoods. His sales training consisted of memorizing a pre-written presentation based on the fear of fire and theft. He was to be aggressive, to intimidate, and to close the sale regardless of the prospects need or ability to pay. Albert hated it. The deceit and dishonesty were not for him. That fall, he changed his major.
These two common experiences can turn off many to a sales career. Unfortunately, it is a common impression many have. This jaundiced view is based on the misunderstandings: that salespeople are dishonest and unethical; that salespeople customarily lie, and pressure people into buying, regardless of need or affordability; that selling based is on personality and that salespeople are interested only in their commissions-not the customer. If you share these misunderstandings- it is time to correct your thinking if you are going to succeed in business.
Do I have to sell? Yes. As you will find out, selling is an important part of any business activity. If you are already in business-you know it. If you are just starting out, much of your success will depend on your sales skills. If you dislike selling or are fearful of it- carefully read this, perhaps it will help you.
In reality, salesmanship is persuading others to your viewpoint. Nothing more. There is no mystery to it- only hard work and a lot of rejection. Just think of selling as successfully asking someone to do something. It can be learned. It is a skill that comes from practice and positive thinking. If your product or service is competitive, and you believe in its value, you can sell it.
The business world is full of successful salespersons that overcame their doubts about selling. If you are uncomfortable about phoning or seeing a stranger to ask for business, you are not unusual- nearly every well-known actor has experienced the same discomfort from stage fright. People, who must learn public speaking, know all about sweaty palms and nervous stomachs. It is only through repeated attempts at selling, acting, and speaking do the discomforts partially vanish; and they will.
As an entrepreneur, you will begin your sales career the moment you give birth to the idea of your company. You will need to sell your idea to your spouse, your sources of money, your suppliers, your landlord, and your new employees. You may not call it selling, but that is what it is. You have a message and you want others to buy it. In your enthusiasm, you do not question your sales ability you just do it. The moment the first person that signs on to your plans, is the moment you have debunked the sales myth. You have made a sale without being a phony, without imposing on others, and without lying. You made a sale, because your message makes sense and you believe in it. Selling can be fun if you make it so. After all, it is your business
Some argue that selling skills are mostly a product of personality. Yes, there is validity to the argument that outgoing people have an easier time of it than shy ones, but whether you are outgoing or quiet, if you have the right message, and believe in it, you will persuade others. In my opinion, salesmanship is not based on personality, it is a learned skill, combined with a logical and honest message about a product or service that a potential customer need or wants. It is nothing more. It is not showmanship or magic. It is the presentation of information in a persuasive manner.
Remember success starts with the same letter of the alphabet as selling!