Here’s a slightly different spin from the World English Dictionary:
Entrepreneur: the owner or manager of a business enterprise who, by risk and initiative, attempts to make profit.
Therefore, one can conclude that there are three elements that differentiate an entrepreneurial undertaking from other professional paths: initiative, risk and profit.
Hey, Introvert Entrepreneurs: Did you know what you were getting yourself into?!?
Where I have experienced my own awakening – and witnessed in others – is the realization that being an entrepreneur is more than having the privilege of doing what you love to do and getting paid for it. It’s more than setting your own hours, creating your own work space and company culture, following your bliss.
The (shouldn’t be, but is) Shocking Truth? It’s about sales. Lots and lots of sales.
And I might be going out on a limb by saying this, but my guess is that most introverts don’t wake up one morning, spring out of bed and declare “I want to go into sales!”
(Yeah, that’s not happenin’.)
Yet, I’ve met lots of introverts who woke up one day and declared “I’m going into business for myself!”
Did they know that they were essentially saying the same thing?
During the Entrepreneurial Honeymoon period, our pure passion and enthusiasm carries us. Selling comes naturally because we’re excited about our new venture. Over time, however, all of the risk, initiative and need for profit tires us out. We spend oodles of time marketing and promoting and networking and doing everything except what we went into business to do. We start to wonder if we’re cut out to be an entrepreneur, because the sales side exhausts us.
And thank goodness for that Power Chicks event, because I definitely was getting exhausted. What I learned there inspired new energy and hope about my capacity for business development. If you’re like me and wondering if there’s a better way, here’s some food for thought, inspired by the event’s featured speaker, Chris Flett of Ghost CEO.
Five Steps to Becoming Better at Sales, RIGHT NOW.
REFRAME how you think about “sales.” Get the image of the sleazy car salesman out of your head. The activity is “business development,” and you are an educator. You are sharing information that benefits others. When you educate, you’re offering the who, what, when, where and why of your services or products, and you’re opening the door for someone to decide what to do with that information. If you don’t educate them, you’re not opening the door. As an introvert, I love this point – being a teacher takes the focus off of me and puts it on my message and on the listener.
REMEMBER why people say “no.” People say no because you are either offering the wrong information or you’re talking to the wrong market. Makes sense, doesn’t it? It makes me think of a great quote that every entrepreneur should have tacked up on the wall: “A confused mind always says no.” And your prospects will be confused – and say no – if you are offering wrong information or talking to the wrong people. Often, both are “wrong” because they are too broad. We want to be able to serve everyone, which means that our message has to speak to everyone, which is impossible! If you describe your ideal clients or customers as “they have a pulse,” consider this next point…
REHEARSE “The Three Questions.” Being able to answer these three questions with ease and clarity is one of the biggest gifts you will give yourself, your business, and anyone who asks you “what do you do?”
- What do I do? – this is a short statement about your niche and offer. It’s not necessarily, “I’m a coach” or “I’m a designer.” It’s about what you DO for others. One great example I heard at an event a few years back: “I connect people with resources to causes they care about.” His profession? A fundraiser for a nonprofit. He put the emphasis on his contribution, rather than his job title.
- Why does it matter? – here you are demonstrating your value, what makes you unique. So you’re a coach/designer/massage therapist/butcher/baker/candlestick maker… so what? What do you offer that makes you more worthy of my dollar than the other person doing exactly the same thing? My business matters “because most of the training and information about leadership and entrepreneurship is one-size-fits-all, and that size is extrovert! We leave tremendous potential on the table if we don’t provide specific resources for introverts to be authentically successful.” So, why does your business matter?
- Who cares? – this goes beyond just your ideal market. This is an appeal directly to what other people care about (and if you’re working business-to-business, that’s usually the bottom line). In my case, who might care about providing tailored resources for and about introverts? A company that wants to make sure it’s maximizing the effectiveness of its entire workforce – not only the extroverts – for the bottom line.
Being able to answer those three questions shouldn’t take more than 20 seconds or so. It’s not a rundown of your entire business or offerings. It’s a simple way to structure a teaser that lets the listener know if they want more. And rehearsing will help you be relaxed and flexible when it’s time to deliver. Know who you’re talking to, and practice customizing your answer to fit the audience. (BTW, my answers are a work in progress, evolving as my business evolves… so should yours.)
Another benefit to these questions? They shine the light on how well you’ve niched your business. It’s worth really drilling down to craft a statement that reflects your personality and niche in a way that unquestionably differentiates you from everyone else.
RESIST the temptation to rush the education process. Give space for the other person to hear your message, think about it and take the initiative. It’s a dance, and the right partner will follow your lead. Yes, there is a time and place for polite persistence. It’s helpful to remember, though, that our tolerance for silence (either during or after a conversation with a prospect) can be really low when we’re in scarcity mode. If you’ve offered the right information to the right market, giving the process ample space will create an aura of confidence, security and trust. Come from abundance, and practice patience.
REPEAT. ’nuff said.
Business development is not something apart from your passion, that keeps you from doing what you love. Rather, it ENABLES you to do what you love. For me, shifting from “sales” to “education” makes a big difference in how I approach sharing my message. I’m not trying to “get clients” or “make money.” I’m inviting people to partner with me in changing the way the world sees introversion. I trust that the partnership will bring abundance if I’m providing the right info to the right market while creating clear value.
And that’s definitely something I can wake up in the morning and be excited about.
What do you think? How do you approach business development? What’s your answer to “The Three Questions”?
PS: I’m making my way through “The E-Myth Revisited” and think it’s fabulous… there are definite parallels between what I share here and the book’s message. Recommended!
Lynn Baldwin-Rhoades says
Great post, Beth! Thanks!
My recent post On fear- vulnerability and building a wholehearted business
I like this "Education" notion. That is what I have done with my clients over the years in other businesses I have worked for. Never thought to apply these same principles to my own products. It is hard to sell when you are an introverted artist entrepreneur. The products you make and sell are pieces of you. (Avon it isn't) So applying the principle of education just might do the trick…Wish me luck.
My recent post Quantum Leaps…Confessions of an Artist Continued
Arden Clise says
It's so darn true that most of my job as an entrepreneur is sales, or business development. Whatever you want to call it. I loved Chris' presentation because I discovered it's really just about education, which as you say is a much nicer and easier thing to do.
I have never been a hard core sales person. Instead I believe in relationship marketing with the exception of one or two cold calls that actually resulted in new business. I dont want to force my service on anyone. Instead, getting to know people and letting them approach me if they have an interest in what I offer is a better and more comfortable approach for my introverted self. That said, I do think I can do a better job of intriguing people with the three questions. So, that is my next step, to focus on finessing those.
I love that you so get introverts and offer us such wonderful resources and information!
My recent post Be a top 10 company in customer service