Entrepreneurs are not salespeople. To begin with, have you ever noticed how casually dressed a top notch tailor is? Or how worn a cobbler’s shoes are? Or, how the best performing salesperson is rarely the best sales manager? Such is life and it is not for us to judge it but only to learn from it. In selling, this teaches me that, the salesperson that thrives, is not the one owns the product he is selling. It is the one that believes in it and himself and is able to communicate this belief to others.
This lesson becomes especially important when the salesperson is faced with a product or service they must sell and which they cannot afford. Consider the salesperson selling luxury goods. Say, a multimillion shilling holiday home, or, the one selling high-end European cars. These are niche products yet the person selling them, in all probability, isn’t their target market. Unchecked, this discrepancy will get to the salesperson negatively. It may turn to a feeling of inferiority or self righteousness and consequently affect his selling abilities.
You don’t have to afford it to sell it
Yet despite not being the target market of the products, this is not a reason to shy away from selling them. After all, even those who sell products they qualify for don’t sell to themselves either. Most insurance agents, for instance, don’t have any of the insurance they sell. Many bank sales reps don’t have the credit card they sell so successfully. And the best barber in town probably has unkempt hair.
Entrepreneurs are not salespeople: Con(fidence) man
Now then. Have you ever wondered how a complete stranger, dressed as a man of the cloth, gets one to kneel down in mutual prayer in a crowded place, with promises of doubling one’s money? Yet the person being made to kneel down does not question why this dubious cleric is not wallowing in untold riches. Well, two things are at play here and none of them divine. The fake prophet chooses his subject well-his prospecting is almost text book. The second thing is that he oozes confidence and believes in what he is “selling.” He is as confident as you are that you are reading this sentence.
And that’s what selling is about. Having sieved away the suspects, identified the prospects, and proceeding to confidently share what you believe is the truth of your product that will set this prospect free of his needs. On Maslow’s hierarchy, the need could be self actualization. Yet, even if the salesperson is still struggling with the need for belonging, this does not mean that he cannot project his mind frame into that of his prospect so as to understand better where he is coming from.
Affording it doesn’t make you a prospect
For instance, a Kenyan friend of mine runs a travel agency in Johannesburg. She arranges tours for organized groups from Kenya. This one time, a wealthy business owner and client asked her to join him as he wanted to shop for and buy Mandela shirts. I am told one such shirt goes for Ksh. 100,000 ($1000)! He wanted three! Much as she cannot afford it and would never be caught buying one even if she could, she had made it a point to occasionally browse in the boutiques her clientele shopped in. The client was impressed at how she so easily saved him time by zeroing in on the very shop that had what he needed.
If only it were true that those who own the product or service are the ones who can sell it. If this were only half true then most business models would be purely based on multi level marketing and products and services would almost sell themselves. Alas! Reality is different. Entrepreneurs are not salespeople. The editor of the Business Daily and you the reader most probably wouldn’t know where to start selling this very newspaper.
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