Shaken & Stirred - Influential Brand Profiling and Positioning

5 reasons you need to get better at selling – not marketing

If I had a Twitter follower for every time I’ve heard a founder say, “We don’t really sell. We market!” I’d be Ashton Kutcher. The image of the latest founder hunched in front of a skull-sticker-covered laptop in a corner café launching his hot new consumer product is seductive. Even more seductive is the illusion that users will rush to sign up after the umpteenth Facebook campaign or some Twitter love.

Yes, people do hit the lottery. But you will not be one of them. So you had better learn how to sell. Marketing is a wonderful discipline, but it comes after you’ve mastered these five critical early selling situations.

1. Raising money. Much has been written about this subject, so I’ll keep it short. And keeping it short is the first skill you must master. You’ll need to compose one sentence that describes your business. One sentence for each of the three clear points of your value proposition. One sentence that identifies your narrow, initial target market. One sentence that lays out what makes you different and better than the competition. Memorize those six sentences and repeat them to 100 potential investors. This week.

2. Hiring your first developers. Finding talented technical co-founders or developers is like trying to find an AC outlet at LaGuardia airport. So when you find one, close her. That means selling your vision so convincingly that her 17 other opportunities pale in comparison. How? By asking questions. Don’t try to tell her your vision for how the company will take over the world. Instead, ask her how she wants to take over the world. Ask her what gets her pumped, what disappoints her. What did she love about her last job? What did she hate? Ask her if she thinks it’s possible to achieve great things with a small group of people. Ask her how she’d do that.

High-performing salespeople listen more than they talk. They get better, more actionable information because they ask better questions. People want to be heard, understood, and inspired, not washed down with your information.

3. Winning early influencers. Bloggers are among the key people companies need on their side. The top bloggers in any domain wield influence over the innovators and early adopters who will buy, try, and cry with new products. But you can’t market your way to a blogger’s attention. You must sell him.

The best way to sell a blogger is to earn his mention. Great salespeople earn the right to do business with their clients by giving and not taking. Pay close attention to your space, listen to conversations, and when you learn something interesting and not well covered, present it as an offering to your targeted blogger. You can do this with multiple bloggers, but don’t send the same insight to more than one.

Continue to do this, never asking for anything in return. (If you think you deserve a quid pro quo, don’t even try this.) Over time, the blogger gets to know you and appreciates that you are supplying something of value. He will check you out and–if you’re good–you will get that mention.

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