It seems like everyone these days is an entrepreneur. After all, anyone with a computer and an internet connection has the opportunities to serve a global audience. The harsh reality is that the vast majority of these budding entrepreneurs will never make the money they hope to through their new business venture. Most will fail to ever make a dollar, others will earn very little and eventually abandon the idea as the novelty wears off and discouragement sets in.
The difference between the runaway success stories and the masses of entrepreneurs silently toiling in their businesses is that the former possess a skill that the latter do not. The winners know how to sell.
Weekly, I encounter starry-eyed entrepreneurs with big ideas and a palpable disdain for sales, sales processes, and anything that conjures mental images of used car salesmen in cheap suits who reek of equally cheap cologne. These entrepreneurs likely won’t make it. If you want to succeed you have to learn to sell.
Here are three lessons from top sales leaders on how entrepreneurs can improve their sales results:
1. Educate, don’t pitch
Don’t even think about pitching your offering until you know exactly what ails your would-be buyer. The fastest way to sink a deal – and your reputation – is by pitching an offer that won’t actually work to alleviate your customer’s pain point. A superior way to sell, however, is to avoid pitching at all. This proverbial high road is one that will set you apart from virtually every other sales person who comes knocking. You will become more than another offering in a crowded field; you will become the trusted advisor.
The first thing you must do in any selling situation is take the time to self educate by asking thoughtful questions that invite your prospect to open up about their current situation. The best sales leaders do this effortlessly and the meeting begins to feel more like therapy than a sales call.
Once you’ve established a level of trust with your could be buyer, now is the time to show them how your offering would be the right next step to solve their problem – but only if it actually will. Spinning your offering to shoehorn a customer into a deal they’ll later regret is a fast way to trash any trust and goodwill you’ve managed to create. By demonstrating how your offering will make their lives better, you have put yourself into the role of the trusted advisor and your soon-to-be customer will thoughtfully consider your offer free from the typical pressure of transactional sales.
2. Expect to hear ‘no’
Hearing no is hard. Especially when you know that the product or service you’re selling will genuinely help make your customer’s life better. The first time you hear a no it can be pretty devastating, especially true when it’s your business that you’re trying to get off the ground. Rejection is always hard though a healthy perspective can go a long way towards keeping you on the path to eventual success.
The good news is that every no is a great opportunity to learn. From building your confidence as you pitch your offer to modifying how you present the benefits of your offering each no give you permission to experiment with your presentation.
3. Do the Hard thing
Bottom line is you’ve got to put yourself out there. Yes, it’s easy to send out a handful of cold emails to potential prospects and wait, with fingers crossed, and hope for an unlikely ‘yes’. Unless you are able to craft a curiosity inducing subject line and an email that provides an astounding amount of value, cold emails seldom work. That widely accepted reality doesn’t stop scores of entrepreneurs from spending untold hours in their inbox sending messages to every email address they manage to track down.
If you want to succeed you need to strand out and that means finding less crowded spaces to occupy with your message. It means doing the thing that no one else has thought of or that no one else wants to do. Sending an email is easy while getting up on a stage at an industry trade show is not. Neither is cold calling prospects out of the phone book. Consistently do the hard thing that no one else will and you’ll find success sooner than later.
Falling in love with the process of selling is no small task but it’s critical for entrepreneurs who desire to leverage their businesses to achieve lifestyle and wealth. The most successful entrepreneurs and sales leaders are the ones who have designed processes that align with their personality and strengths. Ultimately the road to success is one of consistency so map out your path and commit to walking it out every day.