Why Entrepreneurs Should Think Like Salespeople

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Entrepreneurs — those who organize and operate business ventures to take advantage of opportunities, taking on much more risk than a standard employee — need to be a lot of things. They need to have drive and vision, technical understanding in their field and dedication to their idea. In terms of personality, there are many ways to describe the entrepreneurial spirit, but in many cases it may help for them to consider themselves salespeople. What they are selling: their brand, concept and plan.

Qualities of Good Salespeople

What makes a good salesperson? Too often we think of salespeople as sleazy, pushy and overbearing — but that car salesman stereotype is a caricature. In today’s industries, good salespeople can listen to and connect with their customers, are passionate about their products in an honest, data-based way and tend to be driven to make a better customer experience rather than just a sale.

Salespeople are like entrepreneurs because they show enthusiasm and initiative, as well as commitment and loyalty. They bring determination and attention to detail into every new connection that they make. In this light, it’s easy to see that there’s significant overlap in skill sets between a quality salesperson and an entrepreneur with a high probability of success.

Salespeople are likely to be responsible for a variety of tasks. As such, a successful entrepreneur needs to be disciplined and independent, just like a salesperson; they need to be internally driven and dedicated to making things work without relying on feedback from others. They need strong people skills to make connections in all types of directions, be it employees, investors or social networking.

They also need to have enough enthusiasm and passion to inspire those they work with to the levels of dedication they themselves embody. Entrepreneurs, like salespeople, often have to come up with creative ways to make themselves stand out in a customer’s mind, and want to have a positively memorable approach to doing business.

Improving Sales Ability

So how can an entrepreneur be a better salesperson? The first piece involves understanding that you are always “selling” your enterprise to anyone you meet. Being able to express your drive instantly, in a way that connects with people, will help foster business connections. This leads into the second point: Know the audience. Understand what you can get out of this conversation — but also, what you can bring to it.

Get used to focusing on your collaborators as customers. Determine where they’ll find value and do the best to present your solution in this light. In addition, look for entrepreneurial relationships that can last long-term, as these cases will embody customer retention. If you can really connect with a resource and keep them interested over the lifetime of a concept or career, it reduces the amount of work you’ll need to do in the future.

Social Confidence Is Required

Enthusiasm and drive can also be expressed in text, email and on the phone. Some entrepreneurs may have the drive, the spirit and the great ideas, but lack the necessary social confidence that most "typical" entrepreneur and salesperson personalities have. Someone shy or introverted may need to practice their socializing skills to improve their entrepreneurship. Hang out with some sales people and observe their conversational tactics. The key to success is determining which of the tools in a salesperson’s toolbox will work best for you.