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Sales cure all problems, especially in the world of entrepreneurship. Every entrepreneur has learned at some point that selling is part of the job, and for most, it’s the main part. However, many inexperienced entrepreneurs think they can get away with not selling. While they don’t necessarily say that out loud or admit it to themselves, they hope for it in the back of their minds. This hope comes in a few ways, such as thinking their idea is great enough, or someone else will sell it for them. Inexperienced entrepreneurs think they can simply open up shop, and customers and sales will come right through the door. That is not the case, especially today when there is so much competition for attention.
Now, there are phenomenal salespeople, and there are key techniques for selling different products and services. However, selling has also been romanticized and repackaged into a complex package that can cause analysis paralysis and leave inexperienced unsure where to start. That said, selling can really be broken down into three simple pieces and applied to any business.
1. Sell yourself on the idea
The first part of selling is rarely talked about and usually forgotten. The first thing that needs to be done when you want to be able to sell correctly is that you have to sell yourself on the product. How can you expect to sell something you don’t honestly believe in? Selling yourself on an idea considers a few things:
- Is the product great/worth selling?
- Are you okay with selling the product morally?
- Does selling the product fit your financial framework?
- Does the product fit the other principles in your framework?
So, you can sell yourself on a product being great. But even if the product is great, would you morally be ok with selling it? Does the product fit your principles and framework? These concepts are not binary; they are all scaled and interconnected. What that means is maybe you’re okay with selling a non-great product because it’s something you’re so morally aligned with. Or perhaps it’s a product you’re not morally aligned with, but the potential upside is so great you sell yourself on the idea of selling it.
The point is that to sell anything, you must justify why you’re selling it first. In terms of entrepreneurship, hopefully, you know yourself well enough and can create a product or service aligned with your principles so that you do not have to sacrifice too much in one area. Furthermore, the closer you align your company with your principles, the easier it will be to sell and grow it. Once you have sold yourself on the idea and can fully justify why it’s worth selling, we can move on to the next step.
2. Sell the idea to the customer
When you hear the word “sales,” this is usually what is being referred to. As mentioned above, young entrepreneurs tend to overcomplicate and suffer from analysis paralysis in sales because they feel the need to close the deal and convince the buyer. Remember this: Selling is about helping to find the best solution, not convincing to settle for a subpar standard.
As an entrepreneur, your goal is to create a product/service that best fits a select niche of customers. That could look like a product that fits someone’s diet, a service needed in an area or even just a way for people to spend their money. The point is this: selling is about helping your potential customers find the best solution for their life. If you find yourself selling and don’t feel confident, revisit the first point and figure out why you feel that way.
If you feel your product is not the best, understand that selling is multi-faceted and remember that the goal is to find the best solution for the customer. So, if you think the product is not the best, maybe the product and customer support might be. Or perhaps it’s the previous points coupled with the fact you’re a local supplier or small business. All of these are considerations when a buyer is looking at your product. Your customer might recognize it’s not necessarily the best product — but your service and being a small business makes them believe that you’re the best solution over your competitors. You’re not convincing; you’re working together to find the best solution.
Sales is a numbers game. Not every customer will be your customer, and not every potential customer has to be yours. However, sales is also a numbers game for my first point. There will be days when you must repeatedly sell yourself on the idea. It will be on the bad days, the tough days, the struggling days, the day of a major failure or after a deal doesn’t pan out — you need to find a way to sell yourself on the idea.
One of the things that makes the greatest salesperson is that they can go through these steps extremely quickly while adding in selling techniques. Great salespeople can sell themselves on an idea across the spectrum financially and morally and through product breakdown.
The goal should be to sell yourself on the idea, and if it’s an idea you can’t even sell to yourself, don’t do it. After you sell yourself on the idea, start to sell it to others by realizing you’re looking to help them find the best solution, not sell them on a subpar experience. Finally, repeat, sell yourself on the idea over and over again and help customers over and over again. And remember, once you can no longer sell yourself on the idea of what you’re selling, it might be time to pivot — but that’s for another article.
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