Over the course of my career I’ve challenged myself. I started my career in broadcasting, moved to product management, then to sales, all of which helped me evolve into an entrepreneur.
Today, I consider myself to be a selling entrepreneur, which has expanded my skill set and made me a dynamic seller. Not everyone aspires to be an entrepreneur but we can all learn from them.
So what are the characteristics that most entrepreneurs possess and how can they make you a better seller? (this list is not in any particular order)
1. Fearless. To start a company you must be fearless, crazy or maybe a little of both. Being a seller you can’t be afraid of outcomes, good or bad. You have to be fearless and embrace both No and Yes. Fear will stop you from asking the critical questions to help the customer and to get to a decision one way or another. Fear will also impact your decision-making and judgment. Learning to embrace fear will make you a more efficient sales person.
2. Urgency. Entrepreneurs have an internal clock that is always ticking. They react to things that matter with urgency and purpose, sometimes dropping everything to get it done, period. Not all tasks are of equal importance, and understanding the difference is vital. Act with urgency to the things that will help you achieve your objectives. It will differentiate you from other sellers and show the customer that you care.
3. Tenacity. No one hears the word “No” more than an entrepreneur. They hear it all the time from investors, customers, recruits, employees, and partners. However, they go on without pause and push through the No to get to the Yes. You have to have a f!@#$ it attitude to push through the rejection and disappointment. As a seller you can’t let the rejection get you down to the point where it impacts your performance or motivation. Simply refuse to give up and ignore the disappointment just like an entrepreneur.
4. Passion. Passion starts with believing. You need to believe in your product, service, solution or whatever you’re selling to have true passion. You can’t fake passion, and when it’s authentic it’s contagious. Why do you think so many people join startups? It’s certainly not for the coffee and kegs. It’s because the founders are passionate about their company and their vision of the future. Be passionate about what you’re selling, let it show in all your actions; conversations, writing, pitches, etc.
5. Creative. Early deals are hard to come by and being creative can help differentiate and get the customer’s attention. Be creative with your proposals, demos, emails and with every opportunity to engage with the customer. Inject humor where it makes sense. If you can make someone laugh, you certainly can persuade them to buy. Be the idea guy or gal that comes to the table with ideas to help solve problems.
6. Focus. All we have is our time and how we spend it is critical. Don’t focus on BS and things that are not leading to help you achieve your objectives. If your goal is to close 5 deals this quarter then make sure the things you’re doing are aligned to achieving those objectives. Focus is not a skill, you just need to be disciplined. Entrepreneurs juggle many things at a given time while keeping their eyes on the ball. Be the ball and spend your time wisely.
7. Network. Are you down with OPP? Other people’s people that is. Take advantage of your network every day. Opportunities are out there that you don’t know about but your connections do. Spend time every week connecting, communicating, providing help and asking for help from your network. Attend meet ups, events and lunches to expand your network. Even the most introverted entrepreneurs force themselves to get out of their comfort zone to network. Block out a portion of each day or week to networking.
8. Long term. Think long term and not just how I can sell this one deal. Do the right thing win or lose because you never know what the future has in store. If you lose, lose with grace and ask for feedback to improve. If you win, win with humility and ask why you were chosen and always ask for a referral. Win or lose you want to set up the next opportunity, and thinking long term will help you realize a loss doesn’t have to be forever.
9. Solve problems. Entrepreneurs are the ultimate problem solvers. Take the time to understand the customer’s challenges, then be an asset and collaborate to help with the solution. If you can be included as part of the buying process you will be part of the in-circle of trust. Everyone and every company has problems, be a fixer, not a pusher. Don’t push product, solve problems.
10. Ownership. One of the best things about being a sales person is that you’re an owner of your business. Whether you own a territory, book of business or accounts, take responsibility and act like an owner. Do things that an owner would do, make decisions like an owner, and like an owner, take pride in your work. Own it!
As you can see entrepreneurs and sellers share many of the same characteristics. How many of the characteristics above do you possess? Are there characteristics you would like to work on?