For some, sales can be a bit of a dirty word. But the reality is that the best salesperson you can hire is yourself. Here’s how you can get good.
A good salesperson is an early-stage startup’s toughest hire.
Oftentimes, businesses find themselves bringing on someone who costs way too much and doesn’t meet expectations, only to have to let them go and begin the search for a replacement. This leaves businesses high and dry, sometimes burning money that they don’t have.
The solution is simple: founders should become the salespeople they need. After all, no one else will be as passionate about their business or more knowledgeable about their product.
In this episode of Good Business, Launchpad and The Honeycombers founder Chris Edwards dives into what early-stage founders need to know about sales, how they can quickly turn from sales newbie to top closer, and what kind of mindsets you need to adopt to become an ace at sales.
00:00 – Welcome to this week’s episode
00:16 – Why you are your business’ best salesperson
01:29 – Why we think sales is a bit of a dirty word
02:39 – What makes a good salesperson
04:24 – Some interesting sales stats
05:58 – The bigger the sale amount, the longer the process
07:16 – How sales relationships work for Chris’ businesses
08:40 – Don’t make decisions for your clients
09:23 – Sales is essential, so get comfortable with it
10:29 – Thanks for listening!
Good Business goes behind the scenes of the leaders of good businesses, who have people, planet and profit at the core of their mission. Follow the show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Chris Edwards: (00:02)
Hi, I’m Chris Edwards, you’re listening to Good Business. Welcome to this week’s “How To” episode.
So a good salesperson is actually the hardest hire for a startup. What almost always happens is you hire someone who is rather expensive, they don’t perform all that well and then six months later you let them go and it burns money and it shortens all your timeframes. So what should you really be doing instead?
The fact is, is that you, as an early stage founder, are the very best salesperson your startup will ever have.
And if you try and hire someone to do sales, you’re actually doing your business a disservice at the beginning. You should be hiring someone else to free up your time so you can do sales.
To put it really simply, no one is ever gonna be as passionate about your business or know your product as well or as motivated as you are to close the sale.
I’m wildly passionate about sales and talking about sales blocks because I really feel lots of entrepreneurs and business leaders, really, have a massive block when it comes to sales and it really sets them back or holds them back.
I think a lot of people have a fear of sales, maybe it’s a fear of rejection, maybe it’s just that I suppose “sales” is a bit of a dirty word. It makes you think of hard sales. But I think we all need to ask ourselves, why do we think this? What are the stories that we tell ourselves when it comes to sales?
There are negative thought bubbles or limiting beliefs that lots of entrepreneurs tell themselves. Things like, “I don’t wanna bother people” or “they’ll come back to me when they’re ready” or “people don’t wanna hear from me, I don’t wanna nag” or “I don’t wanna come across as pushy”. But I think you have to really ask yourself: why are you telling yourself this? Are you holding yourself back? Because I feel like a lot of people just have a fear of failure, which really does hold you back.
But all of these things are possibly not true or some of them are absolutely not true. A good salesperson is not pushy. A good salesperson usually is actually an introverted person that’s great at listening and just provides a really good solution and follows up with people.
I love the expression “the fortune is in the follow-up” because I also think following up on sales is another thing that lots of entrepreneurs are really bad at because we’ll tell ourselves a story like, “Oh, I’ve, they’ve got the information. They know where I am” or “I don’t want to nag them”. And I also wonder whether in our world of Instagram Highlights and best-bit contents, we only really see perfection. And that also might feed into a fear of failure.
And maybe you’ve experienced failure somewhere else in your life or your business and that story of failure is running over in your mind. So you can have all these negative thought bubbles or patterns, but you have to be really careful of this because it will limit your success. You really need to reframe sales and sales follow-up. And you need to kind of lean into this.
Selling is not about putting undue pressure or talking incessantly. Sales is about helping people. It’s about persuading, inspiring and leading. And your goal when you’re selling is to work in collaboration to drive change. And selling from the heart or selling authentically is something that’s gonna serve you and serve your customers.
So I’ve got some interesting stats for you. First one is that 50% of all sales happen after the fifth contact point. 50% – that’s huge, isn’t it? And here’s another one: the average salesperson only attempts to reach out two times. So you can see that 50% of the sales aren’t happening by the average salesperson.
Think about your own inbox. Think about your emails. Like, you get hundreds of emails – I get a lot of emails – every day and some of them you don’t even open, but some of them can be really helpful reminders or nudges to capture attention.
All the stats say that we don’t follow up enough, but if you think about your own inbox, you really need these little nudges or reminders to be able to take action because there’s just so much noise.
Here’s some other stats that I found. 8% of people are looking to buy right away, 20% are probably not interested or are not interested, and the rest are looking for a solution at a later time. So that’s, like, oh, almost 70% that aren’t ready yet.
So those leads aren’t dead, you just need to be patient. And you need to think about the buyer journey and the sales journey. People don’t buy on the first time. They need time to evaluate, to think about it, to compare their options. It’s usually a long process, and the bigger the sale amount, the longer the process.
I listened to a podcast by Kristy Robinson and she talks about buying a house in Brisbane from Sydney. And she said it took her two years to make the decision and she had a property agent follow up with her for two years. But at the end of the day, that property agent did buy them a house in Brisbane and help them make that transition out of Sydney into Brisbane. And I really liked that story because a two year follow up is a really dedicated time to follow up with a, well, it must have been quite a lukewarm lead, but people do take a long time to decide. And she decided to go with that property agent because they did follow up. She realised that they were really committed to helping them find the right house and they were really easy to work with.
I think when you’re thinking sales, you need to think long term. I think you also need to remember that you’re probably going to fail more than you will succeed, but you need just the resilience and the stamina to know that’s part of the sales process and to keep going. And that sales is really a one and done deal. I know with my business, all of our relationships or sales relationships, they are continually buying from us because it is a relationship sale. So it’s very much about providing service and showing that you care and authentically helping them, making sure that you’re helping them with what they need, right?
One expression I like to think of is… it’s called a BAMFAM and a BAMFAM stands for “book a meeting from a meeting”. So the follow-up’s as simple as this: “Hey, you know, totally cool that this doesn’t work right now. Let me know when you next want me to follow up, like, you know, when will you next be reevaluating your campaigns or your decision around this? Would it be helpful if I follow up in eight weeks’ time?” And they say, “Yeah, actually, it’s probably more like four weeks or 12 weeks”. “Great. I’ll put it to home in the diary now and then I’ll be in touch”. So that’s a really great way, um, to book that next contact from that contact.
So when you do follow up with your clients, you do show them that you care, that you want to work with them, that you understand them, that they matter to you, and most importantly that you are thinking about them.
And another last thing I want to lead with is you need to be really careful that you don’t make decisions for your clients. Let them decide. So I feel quite often you’ll think of reasons why they don’t want to go ahead or they might not go ahead or they might not respond right now, but don’t make that decision for them because you don’t actually know what’s happening in their world. You don’t know if their boss is pushing them really hard to get XYZ done or maybe a new budget’s just dropped. You just never know what’s going on. So I often hear people discount why they won’t approach someone or they won’t follow up, but I say, let them decide. Don’t decide for them.
The last thing I want to lead today is that sales is absolutely essential in any business. And I think as an entrepreneur, you need to get really comfortable with it. Sales is not a dirty word. It’s actually a helpful word and it just almost needs rebranding. And I really don’t think you should get anyone else to do sales. It has to be a founder or a co-founder.
It can be really fun, rewarding. It’s actually highly addictive. Once you get good at it, it is so rewarding. And best of all, it gets you really close to your customer. So you can actually really get to know what it is they need and that just helps you with innovation, to be honest, and you become even better as a business.
And really, I think my lasting message is sales is not about you. It’s about your customer. So you kind of need to get out of your own way and think about how you can serve your customer.
That’s all for this week’s “How To” episode. Thanks so much for listening. I hope today’s episode was helpful. I think I could talk about sales for hours. If this is the first time that you’ve joined us, make sure you follow Good Business for more “How To” episodes. We’ve got so many hot topics that we want to talk about and, yeah, all of these things will really move the needle in your business.
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Before I close out, I just want to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which I’m recording this podcast, the Arakwal people of the Bundjalung nation. I also pay my respects to elders past, present, and future, and I extend my respects to all traditional cultures.
Thanks again for tuning into Good Business. My name’s Chris Edwards and I’ll catch you next week.