Why Every Business Owner is in Sales Whether They Know it or Not

Think owning a business is like a Field of Dreams? Think again.
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Whether you’re pitching a lender or having a conversation with a potential client or even a community member over a cup of coffee, learn how to talk about your business in a way anyone can understand. (Photo: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock)

As a business owner, even if you’re not selling products, you need to be able to “sell” your business — to lenders, to potential customers, to anyone who will listen. And if your business sells a product or service, you need to be a salesperson even if you have staff that does sales for you.

In other words, if you’re not a born salesperson, it’s time to cultivate the skill.

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Figure out where your ideal clients are hanging out, and get in front of them.” -Ali Mirza (Photo: Ali Mirza)

“There is no such thing as a business without the sale,” said Ali Mirza, president of Rose Garden Consulting, a sales training consultancy in Atlanta that also provides sales outsourcing for smaller companies. “Any time you’re convincing someone of anything, you’re in some capacity operating as a salesperson.”

As an owner, Mirza said selling what you do must be a priority. “It’s not a ‘Field of Dreams.’ You can’t just open up a company and expect that you’re going to become a millionaire overnight. You do have to learn how to sell it, and you have to understand it’s your primary responsibility.”

Mirza, who started his career in sales as a door-to-door insurance salesman, said anyone can become more comfortable in this role. Here are your main goals according to Mizra.

Learn to how to talk about your business in way that resonates

Being able to effectively communicate what it is you do is critical, said Mizra. “There’s a lot of times where — with business owners, or even salespeople — I sit down and by the end of a 45-minute conversation, I still have absolutely no clue what they do.”

Whether you’re pitching a lender or having a good old-fashioned conversation with a potential client or even a community member over a cup of coffee, learn how to talk about your business in a way anyone can understand. Unless the listener can really grasp what you do, “no one’s going to buy from you.”

Related: How to Craft an Elevator Pitch for your Small Business

Understand sales is your responsibility

If your business is the type that needs a salesperson, you should be able to hire one as your business grows. But Mizra said most small business owners can’t afford to hire one right away. Even when you do, the new hire won’t sell very much until he or she has been appropriately trained.

“How can a business owner train someone if they’ve never sold it themselves?” he asked. Business owners must engage in the sales cycle themselves so they can “instill those values and habits and techniques into the person that they’re going to be hiring and bringing on board.”

Spend time prospecting

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Engaging potential customers in conversation can help form a more meaningful business relationship. (Photo: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock)

To sell anything, you need to identify your ideal customer, find out where they are and nurture leads.

“Prospecting doesn’t necessarily need to be cold calling,” said Mizra. “Your prospecting activities could be networking. It could be cold emailing. It could be a number of different things.”

The trick is to go where your potential customers are and get them to engage in a conversation with you. “Figure out where your ideal clients are hanging out, and get in front of them,” said Mirza.

Move the relationship forward

The next step, said Mirza, is securing commitments, which could mean closing the deal, but not necessarily. Not every meeting or sales call is going to end with a check in hand, he said. Does that mean your interaction was a failure? Not in the least.

“Sometimes sales cycles are long,” he said. Know what your goals are for each interaction, and keep moving the relationship forward.

Remember nobody is born a salesperson

“People have the notion of a ‘born salesperson,’” Mirza said. “There is no such thing. The only things that are born are baby boys and baby girls. Salespeople are trained.”

“When I started my career in sales at 19, I was terrible, absolutely terrible,” he said. “Only after doing it for a really long time did I get better and better. Most salespeople, if they’re being honest with you, are going to tell you they made a lot of mistakes — until they stopped making them and got better.”

While nobody is the perfect salesperson when they first start out, engaging in the right activities and practicing the skills you need will help dramatically, said Mirza. Be patient and take time for self-reflection to learn from experiences. If you’re engaged and making an effort to improve your sales game, you’ll see the results.

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