Selling for Survival

By Vivek Wadhwa   |   Wednesday,August 12,2009   |    2 Comments
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Forget the used-car-dealer image. The ability to show people that your product helps them succeed is a basic skill crucial to any venture.

If I were creating a survival guide for entrepreneurs, the first lesson would be on selling. Yes, you have to learn to raise and manage money, create great products that your customers actually need, manage and motivate your employees, and so on. But the single most important skill that entrepreneurs don't typically learn is how to seal the deal.

During my days as a techie, I always associated "sales" with the used-car business. Perhaps movies like Glengarry Glen Ross and Tin Men helped me conclude that selling equaled hustling. I thought it meant convincing people to buy things they didn't need, and the key was to close a sale before they changed their minds.

DIFFERENT BALL GAME. Yet, after having worked my way up the ranks of Corporate America, cofounding two tech companies, helping launch a film and a TV venture, and mentoring dozens of entrepreneurs, I've come to the conclusion that I was completely wrong. No entrepreneur should even start a company before undergoing basic sales training.

Selling isn't something that you do only when seeking money for a product or an investment: You sell all through life. Whether negotiating with your parents for a bigger allowance, trying to convince your children to eat their vegetables, or going for a job interview, it's all about selling. You have to persuade people to give you what you want, and you achieve this by convincing them you're offering something good for them.

It was after my promotion to project manager that I first realized getting anywhere in the corporate world would involve selling my peers and managers. Life was so simple when all I had to do was to write computer code. Convincing others that my ideas made sense and persuading management to provide the necessary staffing and funding was a different ball game, however. It required me to listen very carefully to what others were saying, understand their needs, and communicate honestly and effectively.

INTO THE FRAY. After I learned to listen and focus on helping others to succeed, advancing myself grew relatively easy. Whether it involved my peers, subordinates, user departments, company customers, or bosses, it seemed that I could always win by helping others win. And with the primary goal of helping the company succeed,
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Reader's comments(2)
1: Every sales dog needs to read this. Good one Vivek.
Posted by:Veera Shakthi - 2nd Sep 2009
2: Good article
Posted by:Pankaj Pandeys - 6th Jul 2009
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