Salespreneur- Intersection of Sales and Entrepreneurship
12th Jul, 2023
Salespreneur- Intersection of Sales and Entrepreneurship
One key question on entrepreneurship is, "Do Entrepreneurs need sales skills?". This question has many different takes; let's break them down and understand them in this article. Before getting into the details, we must understand critical terms like Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, business, and sales.
Who is an Entrepreneur?
There are so many definitions on the internet, and it isn't always apparent who this person is. As per Investopedia, Entrepreneurship is when an individual who has an idea acts on that idea, usually to disrupt the current market with a new product or service. Entrepreneurship is also about building a business, taking risks, and making money. An Entrepreneur is a person who does all that.
What is a Product?
Satisha KV, a renowned Product Owner, wrote in one of his articles, "A product is a solution that helps people solve problems in the contexts the people struggle to get a job done or create gains in the contexts where they long for doing a job better. Some call them products; some call them projects; some services, and others tools. For the users, it doesn't matter what you call it as long as it fulfills their needs."
Users will buy your product only when it solves their problem or satisfies their needs. Therefore, to build a successful business, an Entrepreneur must create great products that help users do their job.
What is Sales?
Sales is an act of transaction between two parties in which a product is exchanged for money or assets. Sales is a skill that involves multiple skills together. A salesperson must have good communication, excellent negotiation, confidence, active listening, social intelligence, strategy, product knowledge, problem-solving, and storytelling. Contrary to most people's belief, sales is not only about convincing customers to buy your product. It is about helping your customers solve their problems and address their needs using your products or services.
Sales are never about convincing someone to buy your products but about understanding your customer's pain points and addressing them through your solutions/offerings.
Why sales skills for an Entrepreneur?
Most entrepreneurs are great problem solvers and are pragmatic in creating beautiful products. Building products is one thing, but ensuring we get revenue from them is another. I am part of startup groups, business networking groups, product development channels, and other business communication groups. I have noticed that people who built their products and founded their own companies could not explain it in a stipulated amount of time. Is this because of a lack of understanding of their own business or because of a lack of skills?
It is mostly because of a lack of skills, especially in selling. Think of pitching your business to a potential investor without knowing how to explain what you do. It will lead to zero investment for the future of the product/business. Many entrepreneurs have overcome this with the help of co-founders, startup accelerators, and mentors. But what if it's a one-person company? It gets even more difficult. If someone can't explain their own business in under 60 seconds, then it is considered that they do not understand what they are doing.
What can be done to improve my sales pitch? What are some of the ways one can improve sales skills?
As the name indicates, by the time you get in and out of an elevator/lift, you should be able to explain your ideas, business, product, or service. The approximate time for the elevator pitch is 30 seconds, the optimal is 45 seconds, and the maximum is 60 seconds. The idea behind the elevator pitch is to keep it brief and kindle the curiosity in the listener. Once the person is interested, they will ask more questions to understand the product/services. An elevator pitch is one way to explain your business briefly.
It's not that you come up with random statements on the fly. The elevator pitch needs proper crafting and the practice of delivery. One can perfect the content and delivery by going over it repeatedly. An elevator pitch is considered a promotion of your business and usually contains the following.
- What problem is there currently there?
- Who are all facing it?
- What is the impact?
- What is your solution, and how it helps?
- What is your unique selling proposition?
Remember that the elevator pitch should be brief and ignite the listener's curiosity.
Knowing what and how to communicate is very important for sales and a business person in general. You cannot sell if you cannot communicate. Communication is not only about what is spoken. It involves active listening, empathy in understanding the other person, conveying a clear value proposition, addressing customers' concerns, deal negotiations, nurturing relationships, and managing stakeholders. Anticipating the customer's needs, objections, and concerns helps the person generate opportunities that could turn the tables. Paying attention to the non-verbal cues, subtle information that customers didn't speak, facial expressions, fidgeting, pacing, and other observations help us in mastering communication skills.
One needs to have good creativity combined with data to present something to captivate the audience. Start with the topic of delivery and the logical flow of it. Create a structure and an outline for the presentation. Visual storytelling using images, icons, and flowcharts could support the presentation. Practice the delivery until the comforts of the content are achieved. Use jargon-free language and avoid too many technicalities. Use storytelling and anecdotes to help the audience ride your train of thought.
For negotiation, one needs a strong understanding of the product and the business. Second, is the problem-solving mindset. Participating in a negotiation and being able to bring out mutually beneficial solutions is a skill. Being non-biased and removing people from the problem equation is essential in a negotiation. We need information analysis, choice considerations, and evaluating potentials to make an informed decision. Through informed decisions comes better negotiation.
Conflict management is another key skill that is needed in negotiation. Resolving conflicts through identifying common ground and managing differences comes with experience and practice. Exercising proper judgment and staying unbiased all time is important for negotiation.
Persuasion and Perseverance
Persuasion is influencing others' beliefs and attitudes through communication and reasoning. Perseverance is maintaining the focus of the goal irrespective of challenges, obstacles, or setbacks. While persuasion needs cognition, emotion, listening, understanding customers, and building credibility, perseverance needs resilience, discipline, consistency, and a goal-oriented approach. As an entrepreneur, one needs endurance in running the business while persuading the stakeholders. These qualities are necessary for a salesperson but cannot be separated from the company's owner.
To answer the question again, the entrepreneur needs sales skills to run a successful business. You cannot remove the salesperson from the entrepreneur; without these key skills, the entrepreneur cannot successfully manage and run a business.
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