5 Reasons Every Entrepreneur Should Learn Sales

SIBP-Blog-NEW-B-5Cash is the lifeblood of your business. It’s how you keep the lights on, your employees coming in every day, and your mortgage paid. How does your business get cash? You sell your stuff — those products or services that constitute your business. No sales means no cash. No cash means no business.

If sales is so important, why is it that so many entrepreneurs shy away from the sales side of their business? If you don’t have a background in sales, it’s all too easy for sales to seem intimidating. Sales means facing rejection, and calling people who don’t want to talk to you. It involves asking people for money. It’s seems easier just to hire someone else to take care of it.

It’s not easier. In fact, learning sales is one of the best things you can do to ensure the long-term sustainability and success of your business. In this article, I’m going to give you five very good reasons for entrepreneurs like you to master the sales process.

1. Sales is the best form of startup capital

Building up your sales is a great way to really jumpstart your company’s finances. When you sell something to a customer, that money doesn’t need to be paid back to an investor or a lender. You don’t give up any ownership stake in your company when you sell something to customer.

Selling things also has another important effect: It validates your business model. By selling your product, you have a range of opportunities to refine and improve your process. It also creates traction and momentum, two key things that every investor is looking for.

2. Knowing what sales is, and what sales isn’t

Most of the conversation around sales and sales training is about technique. It’s about the best methods for cold calling, or tips and tricks for closing. That stuff can be super-important, but it’s not the whole story. Sales is about more than mastering techniques. It’s a business process, just like production, finance or development.

The more formalized and professionalized your sales process, the better your results will be. For a lot of entrepreneurs, especially those who don’t come from a sales background, it’s easy to overlook the benefits of a strong sales process. They simply assume that sales is all about individual technique, rather than building a reliable, consistent process for generating revenue.

3. Making sales a part of your entrepreneurial DNA

I believe that every entrepreneur should work in sales at some point in their career. It’s one of those jobs — like waiting tables — that teaches you lessons you will use for the rest of your life. There is no better training for pitching your company to future investors, partners and customers than a few months spent on the ground in sales. It teaches you to see sales as the lifeblood of a business.

Your sales experiences will allow you to lead your company by example. Generating sales becomes a core value for the business. Even if you have a sales team, there will be times that you need to roll up your sleeves and pitch in, attending those big meetings with potential customers. By making it a part of your DNA, sales becomes your secret weapon.

4. Investing in the right foundation

Now that you have a commitment to a sales-focused philosophy, it’s time to put that knowledge into practice. That means putting standardized, predictable, scalable and profitable processes in place. These processes are not complex, and they’re relatively simple to develop. It’s also not expensive to get a great process up and running.

A strong sales foundation does more than simply deliver a reliable source of income. It informs you about how your business is doing, where to focus your growth, and where your future revenues will come from.

5. Owning your core competencies, not renting them

Sales is at the core of every business. Unless you’re a government agency or a criminal organization, you have to sell something to keep the doors open. Even nonprofits are selling something, from the good feelings that come from helping the less fortunate to the dream of a better world. In fact, the real job of most people in the nonprofit world is fundraising, which is really just a specialized form of sales.

For most entrepreneurs, understanding sales is something that they plan to get around to eventually. If you have a rapidly growing company, however, you may never have time or capacity to learn sales. It’s something that just keeps getting pushed further and further away. At the same time, it’s clear that sales leadership is important for growing the business. It’s only logical to hire that process out.

If you hire out your sales leadership, even to the best sales managers and salespeople, those knowledge and skills aren’t being transferred to the company. It’s just being rented. The moment those employees leave, that core competency in sales goes with them. In an instant, you can go from having great sales to struggling to keep your head above water.

To keep that from happening, that core competency needs to become a fundamental part of your company’s structure. More importantly, it also needs to be part of your DNAm worldview and perspective as an entrepreneur.