I always find it inspiring to read about the entrepreneurs, who made it big. Those who write short biographies about these people often like to point out that Apple started in a garage, Kentucky Fried Chicken started in the back of a gas station, and Facebook started in a dorm room. Going from humble beginnings to a shout-out in Inc. magazine is the new American dream of today’s entrepreneur.
I would wager that you have at least seen, if not read, articles on the traits that the wealthy or successful share. It can be any number of characteristics. Some say that the ones who wake at 4:00, run five miles, and drink French press coffee will take over the world. You need a vision board. You have a library of motivational self-help books. The up-and-comers can quote Malcolm Gladwell and Tim Ferris like turn-of-the-century evangelists. I’m all for it, but it’s surprising how many miss the mark on what most determines their success: the ability sell.
If you’re an entrepreneur reading this and want that shout-out in Inc., you are going to have to face the fact that you need to make peace with sales. You need to drum up the courage look a potential customer in the eye or with a confident voice over the phone and tell them what is great about your product or service and why they should buy it, because if you’re not advocating for your startup, potential customers are going to have less faith in what you’re offering.
Outsourcing sales and marketing doesn’t absolve you of this either. While outsourcing can do wonders for the growth of a young burgeoning business, your voice still needs to be heard. Are you on Twitter? You should be. If you have been, do your followers know all about your business? They should. Post on Facebook and LinkedIn. Groom images for Instagram. Snap to your followers. This is your future. Being timid helps you blend into the crowd at the ballet. It doesn’t lead to success.
Finally, selling means listening. You may be in love with your product, but sometimes, little alterations need to be made to meet what the customers want. Size, functionality, packaging, and color can all come into play. A brand manager can do a lot to influence the image of the brand, but once the marketing hits the world, the public ultimately decides how it’s perceived. You may have what you feel is the best thing since sliced bread, but your target market still has a voice. It’s your choice whether to take it into consideration.
Much of what it means to sell comes down to self-advocacy. You had the courage to set out and create a product or service. In a manner, it’s like buying a Powerball ticket. One makes that purchase with hopes and dreams of living this amazing life. Much like that, you undoubtedly imagined what a successful venture would mean for your future. The difference between the lotto and your business is that you have a reasonable amount of control. You may imagine yourself as an inventor, entrepreneur, or visionary, but the moniker of salesperson is what will ultimately define where you’re going.