Just design a great product, and with a bit of sexy marketing, people will buy it.
Sound familiar? No matter what the product is, most start-ups and small business I have encountered give little thought to the idea of “selling”.
Case in point: Upon encountering some aspiring tech start-ups at a recent networking event, my value proposition was met with blank stares or glib spiels about online click sales. When they realized that I meant business-to-business or person-to-person interactions, the response was:
Oh, that. We just make a good product and with good marketing, people will buy it.
This was an eye-opening moment for me. Who ever thought Field of Dreams would leave such a damaging legacy!
Contrast the start-ups’ response to that of an investor entrepreneur. When asked about the role of selling during his journey, he replied:
I didn’t know how to sell and it actually didn’t occur to me that I needed it. I was lucky thought, I found a business partner who could sell. But it’s something start-ups overlook. People don’t realize they need it. Looking back I would have sold from the outset.
As a founder of start-up, your time is precious. As the Chief Everything Officer, your aim should be to attract experts to fill key roles so you can focus on bigger ticket strategic opportunities.
Should a founder, whose expertise doesn’t lie in sales, learn how to sell or should he/she partner with a sales wizard to focus on visionary and strategic opportunities?
I say both. And here’s why. As the CEO you need to:
- Know what your customers are thinking so you can better serve them
- Negotiate with suppliers
- Build partnerships
- Attract A-players to come and work with you
- Mobilize and motivate your team
Sales is about influence. It’s about getting people to take action, which requires motivation. And most of all, it’s about giving value.
Often people think they can’t sell because they view it as a unique skill that requires one to be outgoing, talkative, shameless, or any one of these myths we covered earlier. But if you look at the character traits of successful salespeople, the opposite is true.
Selling is like any other skill, anyone can learn how to do it. It just takes practice.