After many years of being a business leader, and after all the lessons learned and experiences had, sometimes there are those lessons that just stick with you throughout your career. These lessons often shape the way you run your business and make decisions on both a day-to-day and long-term basis.
This is often true when it comes to sales. One of the most important aspects of business, any lesson learned about sales is likely to have an impact on the success of your business. Below, 10 members of Young Entrepreneur Council each discuss one lesson they’ve learned about sales that sticks with them even today and why.
I learned that if it’s not the right fit, it’s not the right fit and to move on. Sometimes I used to get hung up on not making a sale and would stew over it for a while. After 14 years on my own, looking back, I realize that was not the right thing to do. Move on and make the next sale. There’s no point in looking in the rearview mirror when the future is in the front windshield. It is not good for your mental health to always look back and regret what could have been, and it’s a giant waste of time that should be spent on getting new clients. That time is much better spent on the phone or working on new marketing avenues that will help propel your company forward. There are a ton of opportunities out there waiting for you. – Ben Walker, Ditto Transcripts
Try not to pitch or present. Instead, have a conversation. We often default to sharing a deck or portfolio instead of having a conversation about what the person is really needing or wanting. Clients and potential clients have a lot on their minds, and you won’t really know how you can add value to their businesses if you don’t hear where they want to go or how they’ll measure success and really uncover what the challenges or opportunities are. – Andrew Howlett, Struck
I’ve been in customer service for 20 years and a business owner for four. The biggest lesson I’ve learned about sales is that people like to do business with those whom they like and trust. Therefore, you have a responsibility to be authentic, do your best, bring value and always work toward the common goal of success together. By remaining authentic and acting with integrity, you will find that clients stick around, share your name and even help you grow your business. Sales is not a difficult concept. When talking to another about what you do, share the value that you bring to your clients. By focusing on how you can help others, you just might find that those around you want to help you succeed too. – Racquelle Pakutz, Zen Freight Solutions Inc.
Founders who haven’t been raised in a sales environment probably associate the term “sales” with the traditional car salesman persona from the 70s and 80s. With the evolution of the internet, comparison sites, social networks and Q&A communities, buyers get informed and educated within minutes. Great salespeople coach prospects and solve business problems. It’s about identifying pain points and connecting the solutions to the application of the product. Avoid hard selling or pitching with limited context. Focus on active listening and education. This will increase your close rates and customer satisfaction immensely. – Mario Peshev, DevriX
A founder should be the best salesperson. One of the primary reasons why is that they have a deep understanding of their product or service. They know the features and benefits of what they are selling inside and out, and they are passionate about it. Furthermore, as a founder, you are likely to have a vision for your product or service that is difficult for anyone else to match. Lastly, being the best salesperson can help you establish credibility and build trust with potential investors. Investors want to see that you are willing to roll up your sleeves and do whatever it takes to make your business successful. By demonstrating your ability to sell your product or service, you show investors that you are committed to making your business work. – Eddie Lou, CodaPet
One sales lesson I’ve learned over the years is to experiment constantly. It’s human nature to zero in on the first successful sales technique you find and stick with it. But when you try new methods, you may find better ways to deliver your company’s value proposition. This can apply to the style of your pitch, the events you attend, the groups you network with and more. Diversify your technique and you will be thankful in the long run. – Jack Perkins, CFO Hub
Keep in mind that sales is all about love. This means treating the person you’re selling to as if they were your friend or relative and only selling a product or service to them that you would purchase yourself or recommend to someone you love. If you are selling a professional service, be sure it’s something you would recommend to your own mother. It takes years to build a good reputation and only minutes to ruin it. If you sell a sham or smoke and mirrors, it won’t take long for your reputation to go down the drain, and then it will be hard for you to sell anything else in the future. It’s a small world out there, so integrity is key. – Givelle Lamano, Lamano Law Office
As a serial tech founder, I’ve found that the one sales lesson that sticks with me is to always be prospecting, even when business is booming. It’s easy to get complacent and rely on current clients, but that’s a risky move that can leave you vulnerable to sudden changes. You never know when the market or the economy might take a turn. By continuously prospecting, you build a pipeline that can sustain you even during downturns. It’s like planting seeds for future growth—you don’t know which ones will sprout, but with enough effort, some are bound to. – Pratik Chaskar, Spectra
The mentality with which you approach sales matters—and customers notice! So, keep your customers’ interests at heart. Do not try to just sell to them because you need to reach a number. Instead, work to help them solve their problems, even if that means you don’t get to make all the sales. It will pay off at the end with loyal, long-term customers that continue to return to you year after year. Loyal and happy customers make great sponsors, and those get you more sales. So, at the end, you may even get higher numbers. – Riccardo Conte, Virtus Flow
Don’t sell. This counterintuitive mantra is my approach to sales. Instead of pushing your solution onto customers, focus on uncovering the root of their problems. Strive to understand what your customer is trying to solve by asking probing questions and encouraging them to elaborate. Your role should be that of a guide, helping them navigate their pain points and feel at ease while sharing their concerns. Empathy is key in this process. By genuinely relating to your customer’s situation, you make them feel understood and valued. This not only strengthens the connection with your customer but also establishes trust. Once that’s established, you’ll find that customers are more open to hearing about the solutions you can offer, transitioning you from a salesperson to a problem-solver. – Jinny Hyojin Oh, WANDR
By Forbes YEC Expert Panel