Photo by Pearl

For individuals launching a startup, the word “sales” can cause a form of fear or paralysis. In a startup culture where wearing many hats comes with the territory, sales is sometimes the farthest thing on an individual’s mind as they pursue building the mission. However, no matter what position you’re in “being able to sell” whether that’s a great product or vision is extremely valuable and will remain so throughout life.

My journey in sales started at Startup Institute, which is immersive education for the innovation economy. Although I am not in a traditional sales or business development role, the knowledge that I have acquired from the Startup Institute course carries a great deal of value, and I want to share with you what I’ve learned even if you don’t intend to take on a sales role.

01 | Sales is not just about bringing money in. At its core, it is about communicating value in the right way to the right people. Whether you are making a case for why someone should have coffee with you or proposing a new way of structuring team meetings, knowing how to communicate is essential to anyone in business.

02 | Sales teaches you to understand people. Although everyone has different levels of emotional intelligence, learning to understand and appreciate people’s priorities and values is integral to effective communication. Sales teaches you to identify characteristics of a product or service certain people will value the most.

03 | In a startup, the team is likely to be small and roles can overlap. Sales are the oxygen of any business and as many people as possible should be communicating the value of the product or service you are building otherwise you won’t be around for very long.

04 | Sales teaches you how to deal with objections. In business and in life, you will get rejected, probably several times. Sales teaches you how to get to the heart of objections and how to get rid of them to help others see your point of view. But more importantly, it teaches you to assert yourself and to carry on even if you have been rejected many times.

05 |  Sales teaches you how to look after others. Author Maya Angelou says that “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Making people feel great about their purchase and working with you is the bread and butter of repeat business. Making others feel great is also the basis of meaningful, authentic long term relationships and is something that should be cultivated within a team and with all shareholders in your business and in your life.

For anyone making the transition into a startup, don’t look at sales as merely a way to bring money in — because it isn’t. Sales is about understanding people and using that understanding to authentically communicate value to them in the right way, at the right time to improve the lives of others. Sales is service.

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