By Adam Mendler, CEO of The Veloz Group
There are plenty of reasons why entrepreneurs should not think like salespeople. For one, entrepreneurs need to think holistically, making strategic decisions with the well-being of their entire organization in mind. On the contrary, salespeople often operate transactionally, narrowly focused on closing the deal in their direct purview. And while entrepreneurs may get a bad rap in some circles, at least we are not the oft-derided salespeople. What is worse than the guy trying to sell you something?
But in reality, all entrepreneurs are salespeople. Selling is elemental to so many critical aspects of entrepreneurship. Rather than trying to fight the label, entrepreneurs should embrace it. Here are three ways entrepreneurs can benefit by thinking like salespeople:
1. Evangelize your company.
If there is one thing you know a salesman is going to be doing at all hours, it is selling. For better or worse, when you work in sales, you get rid of the on/off button. Or as Alec Baldwin's character in Glengarry Glen Ross famously described it, salespeople must "always be closing." Often, the most successful sales take place outside of the office and outside of traditional work hours, whether it is over dinner, on the golf course, at a game or in any environment in which a prospective customer exists. Anyone who works in sales knows what ABC stands for, and to some degree, embraces it.
Similarly, if there is one thing an entrepreneur should be doing at all hours, it is evangelizing his or her company. Whether you are communicating with your customers, recruiting new employees, working to keep your current employees happy, pitching to investors, talking to the media or doing any of the many things entrepreneurship entails, it is imperative to adopt the ABC mindset.
For entrepreneurs, there are no business hours, as all hours of the day can be and often are spent working. As an entrepreneur, I have developed and cultivated business relationships at all times of day and all kinds of settings. One of the nice things about running multiple businesses is that virtually anyone can be helpful in some way. When you wear your passion for your company on your sleeve, it can be contagious, and before you know it, the person you met by happenstance happens to be in the market for exactly what you make.
2. Adopt a customer-centric mindset.
There are few things salespeople appreciate more than highly targeted lists of prospective customers. Learning as much as you can about the person and the company you are trying to sell to is a consuming but critical process. Knowledge is power and the better you know your customer, the better positioned you will be to successfully close a sale. Good salespeople also appreciate the importance of happy customers, as the acquisition process is traditionally far more challenging -- and expensive -- than customer retention. Even when deal is closed, customer satisfaction must be top of mind.
Along the same lines, entrepreneurs must adopt a customer-centric approach to business or they will not be in business for long. Without customers, you do not have a business, and customers will not do business with you if you are not catering to them. Entrepreneurs should take the time to get to know their customers intimately and should shape their businesses to appeal to the wants and needs of the customers they are targeting.
In each of our businesses, we get to know our customers closely. Over the years, we have learned who they are, what they like, what they don't like, what is important to them and why. Our deep customer insights have allowed us to craft our offerings to better and more satisfactorily serve our audience. For example, we have added and removed specific chairs from our product mix over the years, and we continue to as the process is ongoing. You can never know your customer too well.
3. Accept rejection.
No one likes getting rejected. When you want something, it can be frustrating and disappointing when you do not get it. But salespeople understand that rejection is inevitable and learn how to manage constantly being told no. Those unable to healthily cope with rejection cannot last in the field. Entrepreneurs must similarly get acclimated with getting turned down. In so many aspects of running a business, failure is inevitable, but it is the response to the failures that arise that ultimately dictate whether the company will make it or not.
The best entrepreneurs, like the best salespeople, are not only highly talented and skilled at their respective crafts -- they are supremely resilient. When you adopt the mindset that hearing no is not a big deal, it becomes a lot easier to get to yes.
Adam Mendler is CEO of The Veloz Group and founder of Beverly Hills Chairs, Custom Tobacco and Veloz Solutions