I am not a trained salesperson, but it is easy to sell what you are passionate about. I try to learn from sales gurus – so when I meet a Sales VP or senior sales manager, I can talk to them for hours about best practices.
One of the best pieces of advice I got from a senior sales executive was this: “If I hadn’t had a sales manager early on who forced me, I mean really forced me, to learn to sell, I wouldn’t have been successful. I had to cut through a lot of fear and self-confidence issues to learn to listen to customers and overcome objections. My sales manager helped me most by never giving me an Out, such as ‘the customer isn’t returning my calls’ or ‘I need to reduce the price.’
Successful salespeople one after the other have advised me that only poor salespeople sell on price. Good and great salespeople learn to look for the customer’s real need, listen to the customer’s issues, and overcome objections. People who don’t learn to overcome objections, in fact, can’t be considered salespeople. They might, at best, be effective order-takers.
But entrepreneurs don’t have a fierce Sales Manager standing behind them. Not only do they have to do their own selling, but they can’t blame somebody else (as in “my Sales Manager won’t let me lower the price any further”) when a customer balks at the price. Customers are good at that. Surely you can help me out this time? I’ll give you plenty of work in the future! they may say. Entrepreneurs don’t have that backstop. It’s all on them. They can’t say “the price list can’t be changed.” Of course it can be changed! Every customer knows that much. You’re the boss, for crying out loud.
So we as entrepreneurs have to find our Inner Sales Manager. We have to be that person who says (from one side of our brain to the other): The price is the right price. The product is the right product. This is what it costs. I would love to work with you, and here is what that will take.
We have to learn to walk away when the terms aren’t right for us. Walking away, in fact, is a great form of sales training, even when the training is self-directed. We can learn to walk away and regroup. Did I really lose that sale, or was there never a true customer there in the first place? We learn from these experiences and learn not to take them personally. And by teaching ourselves how to sell, we become better Sales Managers to other people who will come on board to sell for us as our businesses grow. You know what they say: you can’t teach it if you can’t do it.