If you were asked to close your eyes and think of the top five traits that a successful entrepreneur should have, what would be on that list? Think about it. Does salesmanship make it onto the list? It should.
Because sales is present in almost every area of an entrepreneur’s life. If you were to think about how much time you spend trying to get people to do what you want, it’s likely that it takes up a large portion of your day. As Daniel Pink says in his book To Sell is Human, “We’re all in sales now.” As a matter of fact, Pink found that we spend about 40 percent of our time trying to move others.
It’s inescapable. If you want to grow your enterprise, you need to know how to influence and move people. This post will give you three reasons why being a great entrepreneur means being a great salesperson.
Selling Makes You a Better Leader
John C. Maxwell, one of the foremost authorities on leadership, defines leadership in this way:
“Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less.”
It’s true. You can’t lead if you’re unable to influence people. Sales is the art of influencing people and moving them to action. You cannot be a great leader if you don’t know how to sell.
Sales is required if you want to motivate your team to buy into your vision. You need to be able to clearly and persuasively explain to your team what your vision is and why they should follow you. Otherwise, you’ll only have employees who are complying with what you’re asking.
You don’t need people to obey you. You need them to follow you.
I agree with John C. Maxwell’s definition of leadership, but I would change it slightly. I’d replace the word “influence” with “sales.” Leadership is sales. Nothing more, nothing less.
Selling Can Help you Get Funding
How many times have you seen poor, hapless entrepreneurs on Shark Tank fail because they were unable to convince the sharks to invest in their enterprises? How many of these young entrepreneurs had great ideas and great products, but were unable to pitch them in a way that made the investors willing to buy in?
If you think sales isn’t an important skill for an entrepreneur to learn, watch a couple episodes of Shark Tank and you’ll quickly change your mind. Think of the blood, sweat, and tears these would-be entrepreneurs gave to launch successful businesses. It’s almost heartbreaking. You see them crash and burn just because they didn’t know how to sell their dreams properly.
Sure, there’s probably other factors involved in their rejections, but many times, their failures are a clear result of the entrepreneurs not knowing how to properly sell the benefits of their products. If you want to get others to buy into your brand, you need to know how to sell it.
Selling Helps You Move More Product
Finally, being able to sell will help you move more product. If you’re building a company, you will never stop needing to sell your product.
Even when you hire a sales force, you will need to sell your product. You will need to sell your product to the employees you hire. You will need to sell it to investors (see above). You will need to sell it to everyone you meet.
Not only that, you will need to be able to market your product effectively. This requires skill at persuasion.
These are only a few reasons why great entrepreneurs need to be great salespeople. There are plenty more. It’s clear. If you want your organization to grow (and I know you do!) you need to learn the art of persuasion.
Salesperson Photo via Shutterstock