As a sales trainer, I work with people from all walks of life who share a common goal—they want to learn how to emulate the success enjoyed by the top-ten percent of sales professionals in organizations both large and small.
People have many reasons to be motivated to attain that kind of success and in my experience entrepreneurs are especially driven. Here's why. For them, it's not just a job that's on the line, it's everything. Their livelihood is at stake! And the consequences of being anything other than in that top-ten percentile might be the difference between success and failure for their start-up business. And in my opinion ALL sales people are entrepreneurs.
Scott Shane, the author of "The Illusions of Entrepreneurship," made it clear in a recent interview in Business Week just how high those stakes are for most business owners. "The myth is that somehow if you manage to hit the average or hit the median, you're going to be fine. The reality is that the distribution is so skewed you have to hit the top for it to matter, and in fact, you have to hit the top 10% to have income as an entrepreneur better than what you would have gotten working for other people."
Sales skills make it all possible
No business can survive for long unless its owner thinks a lot about sales—in particular, about what can be done to sell more in less time to more people. That fact is not lost on entrepreneurs, which is why I encounter so many at my sales training workshops and webinars. When I first meet them, they often tell me that they didn't start their businesses to become a professional sales people. Rather, it's because they love what they do, because they thrive on risk taking and take pride in being a sought-after practitioner of a service, or maker of a particular product.
That's why I tell them this: success at being an entrepreneur and business owner can only happen if they invest time to build and improve their selling skills.
Fortunately most entrepreneurs are already hardwired for that kind of challenge. Whether it's a service they provide or a product they make (or envision making), these enterprising risk-takers are already great at what they do. They also tend to have a knack for relying on themselves to do what needs to be done to make their businesses thrive—even if that means having to learn to do something new to reach their goals.
Passion as a driver for sales success
In my experience, entrepreneurs put passion into everything. It's a magnetic quality that doesn't just motivate them to get to work, it persuades—and even inspires— others to want to work with them. As a sales trainer, I teach business owners how to channel that passion and encourage them to make the time to read the right books and participate in sales training seminars and teleclasses.
Entrepreneurs launch their start-ups confident that there is a market for their product or service. Selling skills give them new insight into why customers in a market behave the way they do, it helps them better understand what kind of customers they should be looking for, and gives those business owners the tools they need so they can better meet the needs of those customers.
Important sales advice for new start-ups
When building a new business, it's crucial for the owner to be the one making those sales calls initially. That's why I advise entrepreneurs who are in the early stages of a start-up to avoid outsourcing or handing over that task to sales staff—the time will come soon enough when the business will be ready for that next step. No one can sell the benefits of a company with the same passion as the person who owns that business. Once an owner has had success in landing new customers—and has done so by making full use of the field-tested selling tips and successful business habits that we teach at Engage Selling Solutions—that's when it will be time to hire sales staff and teach them how to sell to customers…the right way!
Playwright Neil Simon once quipped: "If no one ever took risks, Michelangelo would have painted the Sistine floor." Entrepreneurs are the risk takers who can make amazing things possible in this world. But its worth remembering that ideas, services and products all find their market not just by being great. It's also because the successful owners of the businesses behind those products, services and ideas know how to channel their passion. They've learned how to bring out the sales professional within. And so can you!
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Make sure you check out Colleen's latest book, Nonstop Sales Boom for powerful strategies to drive consistent sales growth quarter after quarter, year after year.
Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions (www.EngageSelling.com). Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.
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