By Alex Alleyne
Heidrick & Struggles published a demographic study of global CEOs which included an analysis of the functional background of company CEOs. In the UK, 18% was in sales and marketing, the 3rd highest following finance and engineering. In the US, a background in sales and marketing was also the third-highest at 15%.
Now, salespeople are often the target of negative stereotypes when it comes to business. But what this background demographic has so aptly illustrated is the importance of a sales background for business success.
As an entrepreneur, you’re probably focused on making your product the best it can be. You’re ensuring that it meets your audience’s needs and delivers the type of results you promise.
But have you ever wondered why some products – even mediocre ones – still sell and make millions?
The issue is not the product, but the process by which it is sold. And that’s why I believe that every budding entrepreneur should start out in sales. Established entrepreneurs should also get a firm grounding in sales if they want to manage a profitable business.
Here are 4 key reasons why you, as an entrepreneur, should start in sales.
- You learn the art of closing the deal
It is going to be an uphill battle to get those ‘yeses’ if you don’t know how to close. A background in sales teaches you when to ask for the ‘yes’ and best practices for nurturing leads. So, whether it’s for investments in your business, or actually selling your product, understanding the process that drives sales makes an immense difference.
- You become skilled at networking
As a sales professional, your network determines whether you meet your sales targets. So, learning to cultivate a network is an essential skill every entrepreneur should master.
For example, getting investments as a new entrepreneur can be tricky. But, a background in sales helps you tackle this issue. You learn to create a network and build valuable relationships that could eventually support your business goals.
- You master being your own boss
As a salesperson, you’re often in control of your own time. Therefore, you learn to be autonomous, an essential skill for entrepreneurs. In the start-up phase, it is often you on your own. So, this skill is useful to ensure you can build on the work you do until you can afford a team to assist.
- You become tenacious
A majority of entrepreneurs have to make it through several failures before hitting success. And if you don’t learn to become tenacious and fight through the adversities, you won’t become a success story. Persistence in sales is key because the sale rarely happens on the first contact. Salespeople learn how to keep going and master rejection, establishing sales cadence and working with people.
Successful entrepreneurs often have a sales background. Do you?
Many successful entrepreneurs started as salespeople. They became successful because they employed the skills they learned in sales to grow their businesses.
You, too, can increase your chances of entrepreneurial success with just the right background in sales. Sales helps you develop skills that will overcome the challenges that come with entrepreneurship and being your own boss. So, I dare you to try and report the results when you do.