Learn how to sell and communicate
I am pretty sure that every investor wants to see someone come in to pitch them that is living, breathing and believing in their vision. They should be drinking the kool-aid so heavily that it reeks from them. Trajectory, data and traction are meaningful but enthusiasm about each of those takes everything up many notches.
You also have to sell the dream to the people you want to hire. There are many opportunities out there in the start-up market and to get the best and brightest you have to sell the vision to get those people on board.
Granted I have probably been selling since I came out of the womb and the one thing I know is it is all in the approach. Sales does not have to be hardcore. It is also about listening and responding. Pointing out the high notes. It is about the way things are presented. How you articulate your dream.
People always ask what is it you invest in. The answer is always people. Everyone of those founders exude enthusiasm and passion about their businesses. They also are selling their dream. You have to or nobody will be buying.
Great post. Do you find yourself coaching entrepreneurs on sales often? The reason I ask is that, it seems to be, or should be, a core fundamental for entrepreneurs but latel have been seeing a few too many that don’t have this skill set and have tried to hire their way through the problem.
I do. We talk about how to approach the raise more than anything and that is very geared towards sells. How you talk to the people on the other side of the table, your body language, your answers, etc.
Love how you broke down the fourth paragraph, Joanne. Thank you.
One of the most important things I learned early in my career – you have to know how to sell – even if it’s just a plan or idea when you’re in a junior role all the way to your product or company.
I’d be interested in hearing your observations about women vs men in selling. You started to hit on that point when you talked about not having to be hardcore. I have always approached selling as akin to planting seeds. Within my professional network, and even when I meet new people (both personally and professionally), I like to ask questions to find out where that person’s passion is. Once I find it, I then start riffing ideas, but often I like to try to plant one big idea with that person. I then wait. Maybe I send an email/text message or two forwarding articles, blog posts, etc. about that idea. I consider that the watering and nurturing phase. Then I wait. I wait to see if that person has a breakthrough (germination!) and wants to have further discussion about the idea. And that’s when I aim for a meeting and a pitch.
My wife is one of the best sales people I know. She knows how to break down a presentation, how to break down and control a call. I wish I was a tenth of the salesperson she was.
It definitely gets better with practice, but I know what you mean. It is not my forte. My favorite thing I learned — about 10 years ago — is “go for the no.” Lots of people try to be polite even when they are not going to buy from you, so make sure you wrap up your pitch with a very specific question that only can be answered as Yes or No. This way you don’t waste time in the future pitching someone who is never going to buy from you.I also go into the first meeting with a series of questions in mind to also assess if I want to work with the people I am pitching to. They are assessing you but you are also assessing them.
I’ve learned doing sales at one of the largest roofing companies in Toronto back in the day. Their prices were so high that at first I wanted to hide under the table. It just made me cringe. But I’d keep a straight face and soon learned to not over-think. They weren’t gauging the customers: all the competition were starving back then from lack of salesmanship skills and business acumen.I went from #20 or 18 — can’t recall exactly — to #3 in sales in a little less than three months. It’s a useful skill to have and it saves my ass every day in my masonry business in these “software-eats-the-world” times of deflationary economics we are currently in.
Interestingly if you hit the right note, investors end up selling you 🙂 and then its much more fun!
agree. BTW, have you been following Dilbert creator Scott Adams blog on the Trump phenomena? He is watching because Trump is a master persuader. Whether you like or agree with Trump (I don’t) or not, watching him is pretty interesting.
It’s definitely mind blowing