Being an entrepreneur – especially when you are first starting up your business – requires you to wear a lot of hats. You’ll need to manage your business’s money, run your website, deal with your marketing strategy, take care of any staffing, and much more, depending on what the nature of your business is.
Naturally, there will always be some parts you know better than others or have more confidence with, but you still need to be able to handle all of them to some degree. This can mean you’ll want to spend a fair amount of time doing research, studying, and learning whatever you can about all the different facets of business so that you can be as effective as possible.
But where should you focus your attention when you are doing this? You should of course first of all look at the aspects you don’t know about at all, but after that it is all about putting your training time into the skills that will give you the most valuable results straight off the bat.
For this, it is always a good idea to consider your sales skills as the most important asset you have, and the one that you should put effort into cultivating wherever you can. Here, we look at why that is, and what you can do to become stronger at selling.
In This Post:
Why Do You Need Good Sales Skills?
For some types of business, such as those that provide B2B services, it should be fairly obvious why you need to be an excellent sales person for your new business to do well. You will be trying to win business, often face to face or on the phone, and will need the skills to do this. However, for other types of business, it can be less obvious. What if you run an online only retailer? Surely your website does all your selling for you?
Well, while it is the case that not all businesses require selling in the traditional sense (or if they do, it doesn’t need to be done by you), sales skills are used by entrepreneurs in almost everything they do. Do you need to secure some investment in your business? Well then you will need to be able to sell it. Do you want to hire people? Sales skills are important in winning the best staff over to working for you.
Another important thing that sales skills can help you with is selling yourself. A lot of people who aren’t used to having to put themselves forward as a business owner find it hard to ‘blow their own trumpet’ and try to persuade people that they are the right person to be doing what they’re doing. This is pretty natural, especially for people with more introverted personalities. However, once you are used to selling and have good sales skills, you become able to sell your own abilities and value as a connection without coming across as arrogant and overbearing.
Networking can be one of the most valuable things to you in business, especially as you begin to try and grow your presence. This means that when the opportunities to make a useful new contact arise, having the sales skills to impress that person and the ‘closing’ skills to make sure you manage to turn that into a worthwhile business relationship will be extremely helpful to you.
This is not about bragging or being fake about liking people just because they might be useful, but about forging genuine relationships based on trust and the fact that you both have ways of helping each other. Sales is very much like this, because it is so much about offering a solution rather than just shoving a product in someone’s face and telling them it’s great!
Suppliers and Hires
Not everyone you would use your sales skills to interact with will be somebody you actually want to buy something from you. Sales skills also teach you how to negotiate, and negotiation is something business owners do more often than you might think. Even if you’re not negotiating the terms of some high-profile merger, you may be negotiating the delivery of your website from your web designer, or the terms of a service level agreement with the people you are hiring to do your technical support. There are all kinds of times when negotiation will be important, and while selling situations are just some of them, you will still need to use your sales abilities to get the outcome you are looking for.
Another time when you’ll want to both sell and negotiate is if you need to hire any staff as your business grows. This means selling, because you will need to convince a promising candidate that yours is a good business to work for almost as much as they’ll need to convince you they are a good choice. It means negotiation because if you do agree that they are going to come on board, you’ll have to agree how much to pay them and other terms of employment.
Boosting Your Sales Skills
As you can see, there are a lot of good reasons why even entrepreneurs who don’t have the kind of businesses where they need to sell to the public or clients themselves directly still benefit from having the best sales skills they possibly can. So, what can you do if you aren’t confident in yours, or if you want to take good sales skills to the next level?
The best option in most cases is to do some proper training, and you can find a lot of good sales training options here. Whether you go for classroom training or an online course, this can be the best way to get from the fundamentals up to a good understanding of sales, or to focus on one aspect, such as closing, that you may be having trouble with.
Of course, formal training isn’t the only option, and another way that you can learn to sell or boost your existing skills is by using resources available online. There are some great channels on YouTube that talk about selling in general, or about sales specific to different industries, and this can be a good place to start. You may also find some useful TED Talks.
Books have been used to learn new sales skills for decades, too, and there are still some pretty good ‘sales bibles’ out there – though which authors you like and how relevant different books are to you will depend a lot on your industry and how ‘hard’ you think you need to sell.
Remember too that sales is something where, eventually, everybody develops their own style, and so while you are learning, whether it is from a course, videos or books, you may find some things that just won’t work for you, or others that you can build on and use in your own way.
Developing good sales skills starts with learning the fundamentals and the basic psychology around buying, but can then become a personal thing to you, where you take all the new knowledge you can find and learn to apply it in your own way!