Saturday, January 21, 2012
Entrepreneurs Must Be Selling
If you run the business, you must be always be selling. This means selling the products or services, selling the brand of the company, selling the power of your team, and selling yourself. The organization's future relies on sales, as without revenue there eventually will be no business. Even if you receive financial funding to launch, when there is no income the cash will run out. The cash burn rate will eventually go to zero if there are no sales.
No matter the size of the company there must be a sales focus. There are no shortcuts or magic marketing strategies that will cause the phone to ring. Having an clear approach toward the value of a sales process will be a constant reminder that new and repeat clients matter.
For some entrepreneurs who do not have a sales or marketing background, the process of client acquisition can seem like the black arts of running the business. Websites, advertising, apps, and hoping for a miracle are not successful strategies to create future success. If the entrepreneur is not confident in their ability to sell, they will need to make a strategic hire early in the process of growing their company. This person's individual characteristics will vary depending on the industry, as sales professionals are not necessarily a commodity. Experience and industry contacts can be vital to achieve short term sales. Additionally the sales leader and the entrepreneur must establish a good personal relationship, as they will be working very closely.
Those leaders with a sales background are often way out front in discovering prospects and driving revenue. They still cannot do it alone, as selling is a full time job and the entrepreneur has too many other responsibilities that can be at odds with the demands of developing clients. The primary function the sales person is to educate prospective clients and shepherd leads from prospective clients into paying customers. The sales cycle depends on the type of product or service, but if the process was easy then anyone could do it.
The reality is that everyone is not cut out for a career in sales. Great sales professionals are well paid as their success at delivering new business is paramount to the sustainability and growth of a company. It takes tenacity and the ability to handle rejection. An understanding of human nature, communications skills, and empathy to the needs of others are all common traits. Not every possible customer will buy in a timely fashion (or at all). Sales is about cultivating a pipeline of prospects that are qualified to buy and managing their questions and objections while giving them the confidence to select you as the best solution for their needs while at the same time generating new leads at the top of the pipeline.
If the entrepreneur is not leading the sales effort he or she should be championing those in the organization who are driving revenue. Companies that lead with sales will often see faster growth than those who push their revenue generation priorities to the sidelines. Tracking the entire process, from lead generation, to movement through the pipeline, to the final sale must be constantly monitored by the entrepreneur. It is very easy for the hopes of a company to be put on a few prospects, but if they do not pan out there must be an understanding of what else is in play.
The days of "if you build a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to your door" are long gone. There are plenty of examples of great products that did not sell and companies that failed where they should have had success. There is a lot of noise out there and customers are skeptical of anything new. You need sales if you want your company to be around tomorrow.
Now go sell something.
Have A Great Day.
(**Photo taken from the Facebook page of Scott Ginsberg)