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9 lessons in sales every entrepreneur must know

Last updated on: November 23, 2012 19:15 IST

9 lessons in sales every entrepreneur must know

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Kunal Gandhi and Gunjan Agrawal, co-founders at SchoolCountry.com, an education start-up tell us why it is crucial for entrepreneurs to focus on selling their products and services.

Will a customer dip in to his/her wallet to take out cash to buy your product -- that is the litmus test for most start-ups and their efforts.

Often, most of us are afraid of taking this litmus test.

We, at SchoolCountry, have always considered ourselves as "non sales" type people, if there is such a thing.

Novice, introvert, shy and mostly fresh out of college!

The entire team can be categorised as a newbie when it comes to having "selling skills".

Over the past 14 months, we have defined our guiding principles based on our experience, customer feedback and interactions.

Here are the top nine of those.


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Photographs: Courtesy Yourstory.in

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1. As a founder, you need to do it yourself first

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You cannot shy away from selling.

You can always hire people to join your sales team. However, selling will happen, like most other things, when you lead from the front.

This not only gives you the valuable feel of the market but also communicates to your team that you are confident of your product.

That your product works and if they stay put at it, it will work, they will succeed at it.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh




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2. Selling is not about fooling people

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Sales is an honest process of bringing together a customer with a problem and a great solution for that problem.

The value of the money he/she pays for the product will be less than the value the product brings to the customer.

In fact, your commission or profit per product will be far lesser than the value derived by customer as long as it is an honest sale.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh





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3. You and your entire sales team should own your product before selling it

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When you can buy your own product or confidently and without guilt recommend it to your loved ones, you will be confident of selling and in fact proud of selling.

This is true for most products unless you are selling a military tank or a very expensive car that you cannot yet afford.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh




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4. You are selling 24/7 and not just to your customers

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You do not only sell to customers but you also sell to your team, your parents, friends, suppliers, landlord,.... you get the drift.

You sell when you hire, you sell when you buy. You sell why others must believe in you and your product.

You sell your enthusiasm and why they must also get excited by your product.

This is infectious and really spreads better than Facebook!

Illustration: Dominic Xavier




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5. Selling is not only about your product

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Often, selling is about you.

You sell your thinking and conviction. You sell your personality.

When selling, you are asking the buyer to trust you and what you are telling him.

Over time, companies replace "sales person" with a brand-name by investing in brand building. But at the start, it is mostly you i.e. the sales person.

The customers will look for signs of why and how they can trust you.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier





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6. Sell early

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This has been said often and I am a true believer based on our experience.

Start selling your idea to people you meet (trains, planes, friendly discussions, start-up meetings...) and you will learn immensely from the discussions.

Do not wait for the nth iteration. Sell your product from the first version onwards, in fact, prototype onwards.

Most of the time, you cannot imagine a perfect product alone and neither can a customer explain it on his/her own.

It is a joint effort where the customer experiences your first version and you jointly improve it.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh




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7. NOW is a great time to sell

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Not after you do the disk clean up, not after you finish that long pending accounting entry and not after you have had a chance to think.

The best time is now!

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh




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8. Selling is good

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Sales is a great profession.

As a salesman, you are not 'below' the customer.

You are honestly solving a real problem for someone.

You are not below anyone just because you are trying to sell it to him or her.

Just think of the times you were thankful to a salesman for the great product s/he introduced you to.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier




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9. Sales and service go together

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It is ethically and strategically wrong to separate selling from servicing.

You incentivise your sales guy to sell the moon and then run away. Left behind are two poor chaps.

There a customer who is struggling to find the moon and there is a support representative who is trying to make the customer believe that is actually the moon.

Instead, make the sales team also responsible for support (it is perfectly possible). Now things will begin to fall in place.

Sales guys will promise the right things. He will also stay close to the customer and will be clued in to the future opportunities that may arise.

These are things that we, 'non sales' people have learnt in our journey at SchoolCountry. We have been influenced by our customers, team members, our readings and discussions.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier




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