MARKETING

6 Things Entrepreneurs Should Know About Selling

Sales guru John Jantsch provides essential advice to business owners who don't think that they they're also salespeople
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Last week, I had the opportunity to speak with John Jantsch, author of the just released (and incredibly insightful) book, Duct Tape Selling. I asked John what entrepreneurs really need to know about selling.  Here's what he told me:

1. If you own a business, you're in sales.

Entrepreneurs tend to think of themselves as inventors and managers, but the only way to get a business off ground and growing is to sell the vision, sell the prototype, sell the product, and sell top performers on the idea of joining your team.

2. Too many prospects is as bad as too few.

Many entrepreneurs believe that they'll be more successful if their offering appeals to as many people as possible.  That's foolish, though, because large companies dominate mass markets.  SMBs and start-ups thrive by satisfying the needs of a smaller market niche.

3. Find out the real "why" your customers buy.

Entrepreneurs tend to cleave to the "better mousetrap" myth, when in fact your customers may be buying from you for something more mundane that your innovational brilliance.  Sometimes it's something as simple as "you call us back right away."

4. Cut your sales message down to 8 words.

Once you've discovered why your customers buy from you, encapsulate it in a sentence of eight words or less, like "We call you back right away" rather than something like "We provide industry-leading, state-of-the-art, Web 3.0 compliant, cloud-based infrastructure that increases revenue and reduces costs."

Note from Geoffrey: The shorter message has three advantages: 1) it's easily remembered, 2) it addresses the actual reason a customer buys from you, and 3) your competitors spout the same yada-yada-yada that you're replacing.

5. Write like you talk.

In addition to having a short message, don't "try to write" when communicating with customers. Instead, write the way you'd talk, if you were talking in person to a respected colleague. Hint: use a voice-to-text program to create your rough draft.

6. Build a relationship before selling.

It turns customers off when you immediately jump into "sales mode" when they contact you or accessing your website.  The point of social media is to build relationship with potential customers long before they even know that they need what you're selling.

More about selling for entrepreneurs:

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Last updated: May 28, 2014

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed over a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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