In the context of a founder or entrepreneur, sales are not just about selling to customers or consumers. And it is not about just a transaction.
For a founder, ‘selling’ will have many dimensions, and in most cases it will involve selling the vision, aspirations and competencies of the startup to a whole bunch of stakeholders. These stakeholders could be family/spouse or potential investors, employees, landlords, vendors, partners AND customers/consumers.
For example, when you meet potential employees (or when you are interacting with an individual or a group of people who could be potential employees), the entrepreneur should aim to convince the person that what their startup aims to do is compelling and has a large potential, that they have a sensible plan, and the competence and resources to implement that plan in the market. The entrepreneur has to convince the potential employee, that they have the resources to take care of salaries and investments required to get into the market. In other words, the entrepreneur has to ‘sell’ the startup to the employee.
One of the areas in which the sales skills of an entrepreneur will be tested is when they pitch to investors. Primarily because what they present to investors will be largely about the future that they want to create and not just showcase what they have currently done or achieved. This is where fundamentals of selling – understanding the audience, presenting a sharp case, articulating it well, communicating it effectively, exuding confidence without appearing arrogant, giving the comfort of trust and reliability, etc – will all have to be brought into play.
Yes. An entrepreneur must have selling skills.
However, an entrepreneur may not enjoy doing customer/consumer sales, or may not be good at say cold calling, or negotiating, or paper work, etc…. and that’s acceptable. As long as you acknowledge what you can and cannot do, or are not keen to do, an entrepreneur could be excused from the sales function. However, in the initial phases of the startup, there will be none better than the entrepreneur to passionately communicate the value proposition of the product/service, and give the potential customers the confidence that his team will deliver. Hence, in the initial phases, entrepreneurs must lead the sales process, or at least be the face of the organization, even if another employee is leading the sales efforts operationally.
Moreover, whether the entrepreneur does the actual sale process, or has a team that does sales, one of the founders MUST be responsible for meeting the sales numbers.
Happy Selling !!!