Being a good salesperson is a prerequisite for being a successful startup founder. You need to be able to get different people excited about what you do – partners, customers, employees, etc. This is especially true for early-stage startup sales – taking an abstract idea and bringing it to life would require the involvement of many different stakeholders.
Sales is deeply uncomfortable for most of us, so here are 5 exercises that can help you become a better salesperson as a startup founder.
1. Elevator pitch practice
The first step to becoming a successful salesperson is overcoming the feeling of unease when pitching your idea to different people. And the best way to build confidence is simply to practice.
You should create a simple elevator pitch of your project or idea (no more than a few minutes), and you should practice it on as many people as possible.
First, you can try introducing it to your friends and family. Afterwards, however, it’s important to practice your elevator pitch with people you don’t know very well in different types of situations.
The more you practice, the more naturally you’ll be able to incorporate your elevator pitch into conversations, and the less you’ll feel like you’re selling. In turn, this would help you feel more confident and comfortable in such situations.
2. Stay up to date – Domain knowledge is king
Being seen as an expert is vital for sales success. Unfortunately, being well-informed is very hard to fake, especially if you are doing B2B sales to specialists. In longer conversations, your prospects would quickly sense that your understanding is superficial, which would naturally distract them from what you’re selling.
For this reason, it’s a great idea to subscribe to industry newsletters and podcasts. It would keep you up to date with the latest industry news and trends, which would make you a more interesting conversationalist, and it would also allow you to slowly absorb a lot of information about the field you are interested in. Of course, reading books (or listening to audiobooks) related to your field can serve the same purpose.
3. Match your offer to the needs of your audience
To be good at selling, you need to be a good listener. Unless you understand the needs of your prospects, you wouldn’t be able to give a thorough, personalized pitch as to why they would benefit from your offer.
A great exercise you can do to make this process more natural is to list the benefits of your product or service and match them to the possible needs of your potential customers.
4. Prepare responses to common business objections you are likely to encounter
Of course, not all prospects would be enthusiastic about your offer. That said, this shouldn’t put you off – skepticism is a normal and healthy response in someone being sold something.
That said, you need to be prepared for such situations. You must know in advance the most common objections to your offer and you must have a strategy to disarm them.
This does not necessarily mean proving the objections wrong. Everything has drawbacks. If the objections are rational, you should explain why your offer is worth it despite it.
5. Gamification and internal competition
Last but not least, sales is a game of numbers and perseverance. The best salespeople are those who can hear no a hundred times without getting discouraged.
For this reason, you should find a strategy to keep your spirits up when facing back-to-back rejections.
One of these strategies is gamification. You can award points for events and actions that often occur on cold calls. Being rudely rejected is much less disappointing if it gives you a point you can use to earn the weekly “It’s about how good you can get it and keep moving forward” ranking.
Of course, these sales exercises are just examples. Any form of consistent but smart practice would help you become a successful salesperson and successful startup founder faster.