The most important skill to learn as an entrepreneur is how to sell

Back in 2012, I thought selling wasn’t something I need to be really good at. I did a really good job blaming people I have assigned to do sales and marketing when we struggle to bring in or retain customers. Today, I can’t say the same. I am the number one salesman in my organization. Writing this article is not just for you, but a commitment to myself to get better at selling.

Doesn’t matter what you do, you will have to convince or make other people buy your product or services.

The selling process is highly important to any business because it keeps revenue flowing into the business. A quality product will not sell itself. You are second best if nobody knows about you.

As a business person resist the temptation to give the excuse selling is not your domain expertise. Entrepreneurship is about selling. Stay in your paid job if you are afraid to sell. It is hard, it is difficult, it is frustrating but it is worthwhile.

The single most important skill you will learn is sales. You will have to sell your dreams to get buy-ins from people. You will need to convince partners, investors, employees to join you. You will have to sell to people and convert them into paying clients. You will have to keep selling to keep them coming back.

We take how difficult selling can be, for granted when we follow the norm, get into the activity trap and try to force people to do our bidding. We keep moving in circles, galivanting with a veil blocking us from taking a step back and reevaluating how we present our brand to the world.

Selling needs to be deliberate but must have a purpose. I don’t mean the selfish purpose of persuading people or lying to them about how awesome your products or services are just to make a sale. Your Sales process must be tied to your business’s ability to be a solution to your customer's pain point.

Rigorous Social media campaigns on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram won’t work. Email newsletter won’t work if not personal. Selling is personal. You have to get personal with people.

Quip tips to selling:

  • Write like you talk. Stop being too professional.
    Surprisingly the way to get potential clients to pay attention to you is when you speak to them not write to them. You can use the recording functionality or Voice memo on your phone to record the first draft of your message and then write.
  • Don’t write very long messages. Keep it short and simple.
    People don’t have time to try and process your complex information into smaller chunks. They don’t want to do the work of trying to find meaning in your message. When it is short, simple and easy to understand, you create an emotional connection instantly.
  • Have deadlines. Keep calling people on the phone and don’t stop until you close a sale or get a promising meeting. You can’t mark prospecting off your to-do list if you didn’t get any form of feedback. Nobody replying to your messages means you are doing something terribly wrong. How about starting with one sale every week and increase that by one every time you meet the target?
  • Tailor every single client. Make sure your sales pitch is tailored not just one random sales message for everyone

If you can’t sell directly everything is a distraction. Having a fancy website, nice logo design, social media strategy and frequent posting can be a distraction from actually doing the hard work of selling. It could be your excuse from doing the work of selling. You can look really pretty online but sell nothing.

If you ever lack the motivation to sell, think about what things will look like if you lose your office space, if you have no money in the bank, if you don’t make enough money to pay your bills etc. What will that picture look like to you? If success does not motivate you, failure definitely will. Nothing like a good crisis to galvanize effort.

I have been the most productive and the most task-oriented when faced with a money crisis.

If you believe in the quality of your product you don’t need anyone to sell it for you. Roll your sleeves and get to work.

Wake up. Stop sleeping. Stop sleeping on yourself. African entrepreneurs need to wake up. It will take time, but it will be worth it if you wake up and take action. It will take time to build the business of your dreams. Might take 10 years, 20 years or 30 years, but don’t give up. It took Microsoft and Apple that long.

Wake up not just to effort, but to opportunities. Be in spaces, be involved. Be engaged. Wake up guys. Stop doing the same things you always do, don’t do what everyone is doing and expect to get better results.

You should go out and sell as much as you can, but you can also harness the potential of social selling. Today’s consumers are spending more time on social media but you need to make the effort to connect with them on a deeper level.

There is the ubiquity of information in today’s world so you have no excuse not to know how to do something.

Business Strategist, Building Products for companies using Web and Mobile technologies. Fractional CMO.