As an entrepreneur, sales can make or break your business. Whether you are new to selling or experienced in the field, there is plenty of content out there which will claim to revolutionise your technique.
As an entrepreneur, sales can make or break your business. Whether you are new to selling or experienced in the field, there is plenty of content out there which will claim to revolutionise your technique. For me, the best route to sales success is to raise your profile.
You can have the best product or service in the world but if you suck at sales then your business is never going to reach its potential. When I worked at John Lewis, there was a guy in the head office learning and development team who was incredible. His delivery style was energising, people liked him, and he was super likeable. He left to set up his own training business but couldn’t get it off the ground, so he went back to a job within the year. I asked him what the problem was as I couldn’t understand how he hadn’t been inundated with work. ‘I don’t like sales’ was his response. With a couple of businesses under my belt, I now understand why that was his downfall.
Good entrepreneurs are always selling, and the point at which you realise this doesn’t just mean sales is a true lightbulb moment. There is the obvious selling to generate revenue and the easiest way to do this is to be genuinely excited about what you sell. What will aid this is the creation of assets to help sell your product or service. Assets such as a good brochure, great website and award wins for your work will make your sales processes run smoothly. As a founder, this important role certainly starts with you and as you and your business grow, it is a role that needs to be filled very carefully.
I never thought of myself as a salesperson and found the concept of sales a little vulgar. This changed quickly in my first business when my co-founder, who had been responsible for sales, left. Until this point, sales had grown steadily but slowly. I found myself out on the road meeting with clients and prospects and discovered it wasn’t as tough as I thought. When I secured over 100K in sales in a couple of meetings, I realised I had potential and started enjoying the meetings.
The growth hack on sales came when I started working on my profile and became visible everywhere – on social media, by winning awards, getting into the media etc. When I was rocking up to sales meetings, the prospects felt like they already knew me and would often reference something they had seen me in online which made the sales pitch a much easier and warmer chat. The sale became inevitable. Thinking about your own business, what one action could you take today that will start to rocket your profile? Maybe enter an award, pitch to a journalist or approach a podcast to be a guest?
Fast forward a few years and I now spot sales opportunities everywhere. Recruiting talent? Being good at sales helps snare the best people if you’re not a well-known business. Particularly in today’s tough jobs market, you need to be able to sell the business to prospective employees, highlighting the features and benefits you can offer.
When you are alert and curious, you start noticing how many chances there are for you to use your sales skills. Want to be in the media? You need to pitch your idea. Decided you fancy delivering a TEDx talk? You need to sell your topic (and you) to the organisers. Doing a TEDx is a great shout as not only does it provide a huge personal challenge, but it gives you so much content in the run up to, during and after the event. It is then online forever and really does lead to so many other experiences coming your way.
When you get really good at sales, you realise where it comes in really handy and how you can hone those negotiation skills to perfection – with kids. Getting your kids to go to bed without a fuss is sales utopia – well done, you can now sell anything.