Sales are the lifeblood of any business, but especially for entrepreneurs. After all, without sales, there is no revenue and without revenue, there is no business. However, just because sales are important doesn’t mean it’s easy to sell. In fact, selling can be one of the most challenging aspects of running a business. The hardest thing for me as an entrepreneur was recognizing that I’m in sales. Whether you like it or not, as an entrepreneur, you are in sales too. We have to constantly sell our ideas to investors, our products & services to customers, and our vision to employees. The faster we learn how to sell, the more successful our business can be.
So, how do you get better at sales? Get some training! Doing sales isn’t something that comes naturally to many of us who don’t already have that type of experience or training. Like me, most entrepreneurs are really good at something, but that something is usually not sales. That’s why sales training is so important for entrepreneurs. A good sales training course will show you how to get more comfortable selling. It will also teach you how to identify & qualify potential customers, how to overcome objections, and how to close deals. Investing to learn how to sell is an investment in your business’s future.
Do you know the definition of sales?
Since I became the CEO of Creative Allies, I’ve had fits and starts with hiring salespeople and generating consistent revenue for my business. In the beginning, one of my advisors said very simply, ‘You’ll need to learn how to sell in order to be successful‘. Of course, I didn’t listen! It took me some time before I realized just how right he was and how stupid I was for not listening.
For most of my life, I actually had sales defined all wrong. Any job or task with the word sales in it terrified me. I always thought of a used car salesman. A pushy telemarketer. A stockbroker. Mostly from movies or television! I had it all wrong.
But, sales is really not always about selling. Funny, right?! It’s really about helping, problem-solving, and building relationships. All things I like to do and I am great at. It’s not about convincing people to buy something they don’t need, but rather helping people solve a problem they have. Interestingly enough, I scared myself out of becoming good at sales based solely on assumptions and thinking I knew what sales meant. Here are a few things that I believe are a huge part of making someone successful at sales:
- Building relationships
- Having meaningful conversations
- Identifying needs
- Providing solutions
- Adding value
- Nurturing relationships
- Being a good, trusted resource
With those phrases in mind, let me share four lessons I’ve learned from making an investment in sales training for myself. These lessons are the reasons why I believe entrepreneurs like you should invest in sales training to grow their businesses.
Lesson 1: Have the right mindset
I’m a very task-driven person, but I’m not actually much of a people person. For me, becoming good at sales is more of a means to an end. I need sales to grow my business. It is important for me to shift my mindset to have more of a people focus (not a sales focus) to reach my revenue goals.
Focusing on the needs of the person, rather than your own need to get a sale is key. This can be accomplished by taking the time to get to know the person you are speaking with, understanding their needs, and then tailoring a solution to meet those needs. Or, maybe your solution doesn’t fit. That’s an opportunity. Be honest and share alternative people or businesses that might be a better fit.
But, in every interaction, there is the potential for an objection. Over time, you’ll learn that it’s better to see objections not as roadblocks, but as opportunities. By handling objections skillfully, you can turn a negative situation into a positive one. When you’re faced with an objection, try to understand where the other person is coming from and use it as an opportunity to build rapport.
Sales training helped me better understand customer needs and objectives, and how to effectively present solutions to meet those needs. I strive to be viewed as a valuable resource for potential clients. The more people get help from me, the more likely they are to buy from me when they are ready.
As you learn how to sell, you’ll realize the power of having the right mindset. But, the right mindset may not be something that you are born with. It is probably something that you develop over time. A good sales training course can offer insight into developing the right mindset.
Lesson 2: Manage your time wisely
Time management is essential for entrepreneurs. With so many demands on our time, it’s we have to use our time wisely. By being efficient and organized, we can make the most of our time and be more productive, especially when it comes to sales.
Luckily, I am a list person! Making a list of everything that needs to get done in a day, week, or month helps me prioritize my time. Setting aside time for each task and sticking to it helps me stay focused and on track.
One of the best things I learned from the sales course I took is time blocking. Time blocking is a productivity technique that can help you make better use of your time. It’s a fairly simple idea. I break down my day into small blocks of time, and then schedule activities for each block. This way, I can more easily see where my time is being spent and make sure it’s effective. If you want to be more productive, time blocking is a great way to organize your time and get more things done. This can help increase your productivity by allowing you to focus on one task at a time, and by preventing you from getting distracted by other tasks.
I’ve been putting dedicated blocks on my calendar for almost a year now. Time that is clear of meetings, clear of emailing, and just time to focus on doing work. Sometimes that’s working on proposals. Sometimes it’s doing follow-up calls. Any way I plan it, I usually set aside at least 2 hours each day just for work. It sounds ridiculous, but if I don’t block it on my calendar, I won’t have a dedicated amount of quiet time to do some of the tasks I need to get done.
Another area that improved for me after going through my sales training, is prioritization. When you are working on something that is a bit out of your comfort zone, prioritization is key. Prioritization is one of the most important skills for entrepreneurs. The ability to set priorities and stick to them can mean the difference between success and failure. There are a few different ways to prioritize. One way is by importance. This means taking care of the most important tasks first and then working on the less important tasks. I’ll pause for a moment and recommend an oldie but goodie book about setting priorities, Eat That Frog. It’s a must-read for busy entrepreneurs.
Another way to prioritize is by urgency. This means taking care of the tasks that are most urgent first and then working on the tasks that are less urgent. The absolute best way to prioritize is by using a combination of both importance and urgency. This means taking care of the most important and urgent tasks first and then working on the less important and less urgent tasks next.
The last thing I’ll mention about prioritization is saying no. There is so much freedom in saying no. But most of the time, we always want to say yes and get as much done as possible for our employees and our clients. But doing this leaves us very little time to get new clients and focus on sales. Say no to things that can wait, things that aren’t important, and things that you can delegate. Getting good at saying no is a big step toward being a more productive entrepreneur.
Lesson 3: Manage your pipeline
For entrepreneurs, having a pipeline is essential, but it’s only half the battle. You also need to know how to manage your pipeline and your prospects. By definition, pipeline management is the process of identifying, tracking, and managing opportunities throughout the sales process. By tracking opportunities and keeping a close eye on your pipeline, you can identify potential problems early on and take steps to prevent them. Additionally, a well-managed pipeline can help you close more deals and grow your business.
There are a few key reasons why you need a pipeline in order to keep your prospects managed and full. First, a pipeline allows you to keep track of your potential customers and their contact information in one place. This is important so you can follow up with them and continue to nurture your relationship.
Secondly, a pipeline gives you a clear picture of your sales cycle and where each prospect is in the process. This helps you to know when to follow up and when to move on. Lastly, having a pipeline ensures that you always have a fresh batch of prospects to reach out to. This is important so you don’t run out of potential customers to contact.
The key to keeping your pipeline full is to always be prospecting. You should be constantly looking for new potential customers and adding them to your pipeline. The best way to do this is to create a system for prospecting and tracking your prospects. Back to time management, this requires that you prioritize this task as important and set aside time each day to focus on it.
Lesson 4: Delegation
One of the most important time management tips for entrepreneurs is to learn to delegate. Delegating can be a difficult task because we often feel like we need to do everything ourselves. If you haven’t gotten over this hurdle yet, work on it now! The sooner you get over the fact that other people can do some things just as good as you, you’ll be glad you moved a few things off your plate.
While you learn how to sell, don’t delegate sales activities too early. Nobody can sell your business better than you can. That was one of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten. When you are just starting out, even if you have the people to delegate to, find other things for them to do and keep the sales for yourself. As an entrepreneur, you’ll need to not only know how to sell but learn from the conversations you have. Having conversations over and over with different people with different needs will help you make your message stronger and modify your solutions to fit their needs. There won’t be anyone else on your team that can do this better than you. After you spend time really generating a solid pipeline then you should feel comfortable delegating some of your sales activities.
Learn how to sell
Entrepreneurs need to understand sales in order to make sound decisions that will grow their companies. Sales provide critical feedback about what is working and what is not. Without a strong understanding of sales, entrepreneurs are flying blind and are missing out on a critical part of their job. In addition to understanding the definition of sales, what I’ve shared in this article are four really important lessons I learned by investing in sales training for myself. While it’s important to understand core things like prospecting and closing, it’s equally as important to have the right mindset and excel at time management, pipeline management, and delegation.
If you are interested in exploring an online sales training course to show you some of the fundamentals of sales, you should check out Sales 101: The Basics. It’s our online course led by Larry Long, Jr. a successful entrepreneur, keynote speaker, sales trainer, and sales coach. I’m excited to have partnered with Larry to make this sales course happen to help entrepreneurs get better at sales. As Larry says, we should all strive to be EPIC salespeople. We are offering an opportunity to check out the first module of this sales course for FREE so you can determine if it’s the right investment for you. Head over to the Sales 101: The Basics course page to learn how to sell.