What Is The Most Important Business Skill for a Startup Founder?
If you ever ask an entrepreneur when the best time to start a new business would be, they’ll all very likely tell you the same thing, NOW! There is no time like the present. Especially now when the industry is loaded with innovations and new ways of looking at “old” businesses. But thinking of a brilliant idea is only the first step in the process.
If you want to launch a new business venture and, more importantly, you want it to be successful, there are some skills you need to develop. You will realize that you’re not just the boss, the strategic thinker, and visionary. As the owner of a startup, you’re responsible for a myriad of different jobs and details. But first and foremost you have to be your company’s best salesperson. Why? Because no one can sell your dream better than you.
Your success depends on you, plain and simple. When you’re starting a new business, you’re starting at ground zero. That means stepping up and pushing and promoting, selling and working on feedback, it means owning your product your own company. There’s a reason that the top sales performers stay in the top spots day in and day out. It has nothing to do with a superior product or service and everything to do with their attitude. The best salespeople own everything.
“Anything that happens to them, whether or not it was their doing, is controlled by them. It may not be their fault, but it is their responsibility. In the research, psychologists call this the internal locus of control,” says Joseph Curtis of HBR.
Simply put, it means that a successful salesperson believes that the power lies within themselves rather than from some external factor. Interestingly enough, those who have developed that internal locus of control tend to be more successful at work, have higher levels of income and are even in better health.
Developing that locus is a result of constant practice, but like any practice, with enough reinforcement, it becomes a habit.
Resourcefulness isn’t just a personality trait but one of the most powerful tools in the elite salespersons' and business owners’ repertoire. In much the same way that MacGyver never complained about only having a paperclip to work with, the best salespeople know that it’s a matter of working with what you have and making it work. Figure out your assets, assess your strengths, and find the solution.
“The best salespeople I have seen are like modern-day MacGyvers, sans the life and death scenarios. They’re often faced with difficult situations and time pressures, having to negotiate seemingly arbitrary obstacles armed with only their wits and their phones. Elite salespeople almost always figure it out. Resourcefulness is as much a mindset as it is a skill. If you don’t start with the MacGyver mindset, then you will never fully develop the skills associated with being resourceful,” Curtis adds.
When you find yourself in a ridiculous or seemingly impossible situation, you’ll find the perfect time to practice your resourcefulness. Put away the phone and the laptop and refocus your attention. Look for alternative routes to your destination and assess the tools you have at your disposal to get there. Good Salespeople are resourceful.
Be The EXPERT
If you can’t convince your prospects why they should care about your product or service, no one else can. You are the master of your products and know it inside and out. What’s more is, you believe in it.
Sales are decidedly less about selling and more about leading a prospect which requires a high level of confidence. While a certain degree of confidence can be manufactured through sheer attitude, knowledge, experience and, most importantly, belief in that product are what create the confidence to lead.
Study. Learn. Form an opinion. Expertise leads to confidence, which leads to trust, which leads to sales.
Great Salespeople are experts in their field!
While it might seem counterintuitive, great salespeople help others. There will always be someone with more insight or knowledge about a particular aspect of the industry and they are almost always happy to share that knowledge with no expectation of a return. But why would anyone want to give away their “secrets”? Interestingly enough, it actually helps to build up self-confidence. Also, people take notice when you go out of your way to be a promoter or a work altruist.
Get OUT There
Of course one of the most powerful habits the elite salesperson has is they are present. They get out in the industry through events and conventions. The make appearances at expos and are more than happy to take every possible opportunity to meet and greet. Not only are they making contacts within their field, but their gaining feedback, straight from the market, from their customers.
That presence is invaluable. Not only are there a number of teachable moments and opportunities to learn from others, but it shows your customers that you’re there, you care, and you’re looking to make the change that matters.
Own it. Promote it. Sell it.
Remember, above all things, this is your company. It falls on you to make things happen. Own it. Promote it. Sell it. Be the expert and be the one your customers remember.