8 January, 2013
Selling skill is one of the most under-rated skills for start-ups. Start-up bibles don 't talk about it. Business schools don't teach much about it. Yet, it is a skill you cannot live without as a start-up entrepreneur.
In fact, when you think deeply enough, selling is more than just selling a product as people usually assume it to be. Anything in life that needs persuasion can be thought of as selling something. And there is a lot of persuasion that entrepreneurs need to do in their daily activities.
When you found a new company, often times, you don't do it by yourself. You need to persuade some partners to join you. You need to persuade your partners to put their hard-earned money into the venture, to work hard with you, to endure hardship together in a young enterprise with an uncertain future. You need to "sell" the idea of a partnership in this new venture to your potential partners.
Next, you need to hire people to join your new company. Usually, you don't have much to offer above and beyond the well-established companies your candidates will also look at. In fact, sometimes you don't even have a formal office for them to work at when you start your company. You need to pull the best of your persuasive skills to "sell" the idea of an employment at your company to your candidates.
Then, after you go ahead and build your products, you need to sell it to a customer. This customer will be your first customer. They don't know if the product will work as advertised. They don't even know if your company will be around after they buy the product from you. After all, most start-ups fail in the first couple of years. So, you need to be able to "sell" not just your product, but also the whole idea about your company and why they should take the risk of buying from you.
Besides the above, you need to "sell" the idea of distributing your product to distribution partners. You need to "sell" the idea of supplying to your company to suppliers, and so on. As you can see, there is a lot of "selling" you need to do in start-ups than just product selling.
So, if selling is so important, the question is how do you improve selling skills? Yes, there are many books, seminars, workshops you can learn from. But, besides that, one of the best ways to improve your selling skills is by practice. Every day, go and try selling something to someone, whatever it is. Observe your successes and failures, and learn from it.
Listening skills can also help improve your selling skills. After all, selling is about finding a solution to the problem of the person you are selling to. In order to find a solution, you need to understand the problem first. And the best way you can understand the problem is by listening.
You can see that even this article is about "selling" you the importance of selling skills to start-up entrepreneurs. Selling skills will be useful in more ways than you can imagine. So, practice and excel in selling.
Posted on THE NATION