Last year a large public university near where I reside appointed a new Dean of the Business School. In a newspaper article he stated that he would be evaluating an area of focus for the business school – a way to distinguish the school. I wrote him an email and gave him a recommendation for focus. Selling. Of course, no business school aspiring to greatness is going to focus on teaching MBA candidates about selling. In fact, I would guess most undergraduate business and MBA students believe they are getting an MBA so they don’t have to be in sales. Yet, 10+ years out of business school, and after 20+ years in the business world, I’ve come to understand that the ability to sell and grow businesses is what the market really values.
There is an old Inc. Magazine article, which I still pick up and re-read. It is titled “Start With Nothing.” In the article, successful entrepreneur Greg Gianforte promotes the benefits of “bootstrapping,” starting a business with little to no capital. When you start a business this way, it forces you to focus on the essentials of business – making and selling a product. On the sales side, it forces you dig down and be creative, resourceful and tenacious. Also, when we pick up the phone and speak to potential customers, we learn things we can use to improve both our product and our sales and marketing process. If our product is not where it needs to be, the market will tell us, and we can use this information to improve it.
I’ve come across many people with many excuses for not selling. “I’m waiting for the (fill in excuse – brochure, white paper, email campaign, target list). I have come to realize the best way to start a campaign is to pick up the phone or walk in the door and engage people – ask, listen and share. Through this process I’ve learned that starting with nothing can often lead to something big.
Here is a link to the Inc. article
Another good book related to this topic –personal branding, or the art of selling yourself. I listened to the audio version.