The used car salesman is still the image that many concoct in their minds when they think about sales.
They think that sales is all about being annoying, pushy, and trying to provide consumers with something that they don't want or need. The hard fact is that effective sales and sales strategies can be the factor that determines your success or failure.
Even in business school, many top MBA programs don't even offer a course on sales or sales management. While there are many disconnects between academia and real world business and entrepreneurship, there is no bigger disconnect than equipping students with all that they need to being successful in business with out equipping them with the proper knowledge of how to effectively sell and manage a sales strategy.
"If I build it, they will come" could be the biggest business fallacy of all time. You can build the worlds best whatever, but if you don't sell it, nobody will notice it, and nobody will buy it. For many entrepreneurs, especially entrepreneurs with a technical background, sales can be the most challenging aspect of their business, yet it is often the most critical. If you have the financial resources to hire a sales manager, do it, but for many small-business entrepreneurs, the founders are the salesmen and must take matters into their own hands.
A sale doesn't start and end with trying to sell your products or services. A large component of sales is selling yourself. Selling yourself can help you prove yourself as a valuable resource by convincing others to believe in your grand ideas, to convince business partners to work with you, and of course to convince customers to buy from you. Sales is an art within itself and many aspects of sales cannot be taught, but the components that make a good salesman are: trust, relationships, confidence, and value. Whether you are selling your product or yourself, people must trust you. In order to gain trust, you must often forge relationships with those that you will be working with and in order to build those relationships, you must exhibit confidence in yourself and in your business. Lastly, you must demonstrate value to whom you are trying to sell too. Consumers buy based on value and it is your job to demonstrate the value of yourself, your business, and your products.
Sales is a process, just like any relationship. It starts with an introduction and several follow-ups. Don't be discouraged if people don't buy from you the first time. Think of how and why you purchase products or services from specific businesses? How did your relationship with that business or individual start? Not many say yes when they first hear of your product or service.
As you build your company's business strategy and business plan, work on selling yourself, your business, and your products before you formally launch. Putting yourself in uncomfortable situations can be a great way to practice your sales pitch before you actually launch your products and ensure that when the time comes you are prepared and ready to sell your products, service, and your company.