Some people don’t want to play big, because they want to stay small. That’s fine, so long as you know that is truly what you want. Before you go too far with your big idea, you need to ask yourself if you’re looking to create a lifestyle company, in which everyone is dedicated to a lifestyle ideal, such as creativity, family, or the environment, but don’t care if that ideal sells—or if you want to create a company that produces top results. That’s not to say those lifestyle ideals can’t be important at a company where sales results are a priority. The point is that all the creative, or family-oriented, or environmentally-friendly products and services in the world may not find a significant place in the market unless the organization providing them makes sales results a top priority.
One of the most important Business Coach tips I can offer as a long-time business builder is this: If you’re in this to go as far you can, if you’re in this for the long haul, sales must be a priority from the very beginning.
We’re talking about creating a business culture, just as Starbucks has a culture of quality, or McDonald’s has a culture of speediness, and Nordstrom has a culture of customer service. All those business cultures that succeed in the long haul are cultures that are created in service to the greatest business culture of all—sales results. The culture of your business isn’t some special ingredient you add after-the-fact, it is something you must inject into your recipe for success from the beginning. If you want sales results in the end, then everything you do from the beginning must point in that direction.
An organization always begins with one person. So, if you want to be an entrepreneur, you cannot just hire salespeople, you must be THE salesperson. Since you’re the one with the idea, and therefore the only person at the beginning who knows that idea inside and out, you must not just be THE salesperson, but a highly professional salesperson committed to results. This is where most entrepreneurs stumble. Why? Because so many people are so afraid of sales that they consider selling a bad word.
Do you know what the highest-paying profession is? Sales. Do you know what the oldest profession is? That’s right: Sales. Think about it.
When I talk to business classes, I always ask the students the same question, “Raise your hands if you’re a salesperson.” In a class of a hundred students, typically fewer than five people will raise their hands.
The other question I ask is, “How many of you are afraid to sell something?” Eighty percent of people raise their hands. Why are they afraid? It’s simple. They fear what every one of us has feared almost since birth: rejection. They fear someone will say “no.” If someone says no, they fear it will negate something they believe in. And if someone negates what they believe in, they fear it will mean something about them.
But a “no” doesn’t automatically mean something about you. It simply means that the person you’re talking to isn’t interested, and it’s good to find that out soon because that doesn’t just mean you aren’t right for that person—it means that person isn’t right for you. In fact, I’ll be talking in a later blog about how knowing “no” as soon as possible is a great place to be. Knowing “no” allows you to qualify out the people you don’t want as customers. Remember, it’s your choice to do business just as much as it is theirs.
But let’s stick with this fear of selling for a moment because it’s going to be critical to your success. In America, we all admire the idea of the entrepreneur, the self-made person, the idea person, the independent person. So why do we deride the idea of the salesperson? Because, let me tell you, the primary role of an entrepreneur is sales. If you own a company or are starting a company, everything you do at the beginning or will ever do must be all about sales. If you don’t master sales, it’s going to be hard, if not impossible, to make everything else work.
If you think you’re not cut out for sales, don’t despair. If you can overcome the fear and shame you’ve built around the word sales, you can learn to sell.
To help you overcome that, let me offer this. The word “revenue” is at the top of every profit and loss statement that your business must track. Revenue is the only thing that will allow you to keep putting your idea out there so that you can be useful to clients so that you can pay employees so that you can put a roof over your head. Revenue is what keeps the economy going. Without revenue, your idea is dead in the water. Revenue is the most important thing to a company. Have you ever tried to run a company without revenue? There’s no shame in revenue as long as it’s arrived at with integrity.
And by building a business culture that reinforces that your sales are a top priority, the revenue will come.
You can’t set out to make sales results a top priority at some point –– sales must be a priority from the very beginning.