Why Learning Sales Is For Every Entrepreneur

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If the term “learning sales” conjures up images of awful late-night infomercials, getting hung up on by your crush in middle school, or just generally wanting to run for the hills — you’re not alone.

Many entrepreneurs shy away from the sales side of their business because sales means facing rejection and calling people who might hang up on you. It involves asking people for money (and unless you’re 10 years old and it’s your mama, nobody enjoys that).

If you don’t have a background in sales, it can all seem intimidating. It feels easier to just hire someone else to take care of it and get back to doing what you do best.

But here’s the truth: It’s not easier in the long term. In fact, learning sales is one of the best things you can do to ensure your business’s sustainability and success. Here’s why.

1. Sales is the best form of startup capital.

Building up your sales is a great way to 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’re not giving up any ownership in your company when you sell something to a 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 every investor is looking for.

2. Sales helps you develop processes (not methods) that work for your team.

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 just mastering techniques. It’s a business process, just like production, finance, or development.

Sales is at the core of every business.

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 sales is all about individual technique, rather than building a reliable, consistent process for generating revenue.

3. Sales helps you know your business inside and out.

Every entrepreneur should work in sales at some point in their career. It’s one of those jobs — like waiting tables — that teaches you valuable 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 in sales. Most importantly, working in sales teaches you to see sales as the lifeblood of a business.

Your sales experiences will allow you to lead your company by example. Even if you have a sales team, there will be times when 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. Sales helps keep your finger on the pulse of your business.

A strong sales foundation does more than 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. Sales means you own your core competencies, not rent them.

If you hire out your sales leadership, even to the best sales managers and salespeople, that knowledge isn’t being transferred to the company — it’s just being rented. The moment those one-off 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, led by you.

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 and learning sales is something they plan to get around to eventually. But if you have a rapidly growing company, you may never have the time or capacity to learn it. Do yourself and your business a favor and make sure sales becomes a part of your DNA as an entrepreneur right now.

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