Entrepreneurs that Can’t Sell

Last month I was talking to an entrepreneur that lamented he can’t sell. No matter how hard he tries selling his prototype to prospects, his idea to investors, or his vision to potential employees, it’s just not clicking. After hearing this, I asked a few questions about his strategy and approach. It became clear that a little feedback was in order.

Here are a few thoughts for entrepreneurs that are having a hard time selling:

  • Go with Passion – Emotion and passion are critical for entrepreneurial selling. Figure out what’s energizing and ensure it’s shared with the audience.
  • Know the Audience – Prospects, investors, and potential employees all warrant a different pitch. Think through what the audience wants to hear and map it out in a simple Google Doc. Ask a friend for feedback and constantly refine the message.
  • Read up on Sales – Start with the classic sales books like How to Win Friends and Influence People as well as many others. In addition, there are a number of excellent sales articles online.
  • Find a Co-Founder – Look for a co-founder that has a complementary skill set — plenty of people out there love to sell and are good at it. Take a look at The Co-Founder Complement.

Entrepreneurs that can’t sell need to improve their skills to get them up to a modest level and find a partner that can help. Selling isn’t easy but with effort can always be improved.

What else? What are some more thoughts for entrepreneurs that have a hard time selling?

8 thoughts on “Entrepreneurs that Can’t Sell

  1. This is especially hard for technical founders with an engineering background. We are programmed to build and create, not sell. One-on-one help and practice goes a long way so consider hiring a coach in addition to studying up on the topic yourself.

  2. If the product/service really addresses an important pain point for a specific group, just asking open-ended questions to someone in that group, listening carefully, and following-up with related questions is a good start that will eventually get around to the potential customer talking about their pain. Dig-into this pain with more questions, rather than blurting out your solution right away.

  3. Sometimes the best option is just to outsource sales, petitioning, and just generally everything related to communications. People who can’t sell often just hate the idea and/or act of selling, and if they hate it, they are unlikely to approach it with any passion or real ambition. We have a lot of clients that fit that description.

  4. When I started out as a freelance copywriter, two things happened: 1) I realised that, while I’m able to tell companies the what, where, why, and how of content marketing, I could not sell myself to save my life; and 2) the reason I couldn’t sell was because I was trying to explain marketing to people who didn’t understand marketing – and that was the golden moment where everything turned around.

    Engineers, tech companies, inventors – they’re all super bright people that I cannot compete with, and also people that I greatly admire. I love the way that type of mind works – see a problem, build a solution from scratch.

    But I realised they have a difficulty in transposing their ideas into ‘layman’ terms. That’s when I was able to find my career niche – writing for startups and entrepreneurs who were fascinated by their own product, but unable to explain it to anyone without a masters in physics.

    I still often don’t understand what they’re on about the first time I meet with prospective clients – but now I know the questions to ask to get the simple explanations out of them, to help them explain to investors why they need funding and why their product is so amazing.

  5. The cofounder option is great but make sure you really know the person. The last thing you want is to feel like you split the business but you still do all the work. Another thing that I found workers is find a guy who might be willing to do it for a share of the profit but not the equity. Just some thoughts. Great article.

  6. I agree with the sediments of hiring a sales coach and finding a partner. We all have our strengths and it’s actually a huge strength to know your shortcomings and find the talent that can help you overcome those obstacles. This can become easier said then done when factoring in resources and a sense of pride, however.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this information! As a new entrepreneur my journey has been both exciting and nerve wrecking! A part of me is excited , and the other part of me feels discouraged at times. I keep telling myself to keep going, I will get better!

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