This post is a direct result of my discussion with my father and subsequent post about Truth & Entrepreneurship.
It's the truth part that is interesting and scary all at the same and the only reason that this has any bearing on growing a company is because all entrepreneurs must be good sales people. This is not to say that there aren't exceptions: Engineers who are extremely technically talented, but are not sales focused, but it is to say that the fast majority of entrepreneurs will be the company's initial sales force. This is true weather you are selling to customers or investors, you need to be passionate and have the sales chops needed to convince people to do something different.
This is where the truth comes in, because you are not going to be able to sell to people if you don't understand THEIR TRUTH. What drives them to make certain choices, and what you will need to do in order to get these people to CHANGE their focus and see things in a different light? To see the truth of why your product or solution will help them or why your idea is the next Google. This is not convincing them of a fallacy since you will never get any customer/investor to buy into a lie.
This has become uncomfortably clear as I have been responsible for running sales in my current company. I have met many entrepreneurs in my time, and most of them think they can sell, but I believe that is a fallacy as well. They delude themselves into thinking this, but it is not the truth. Selling skills are not typically something that you are born with or something that you learn in business school (trust me I know, I've been through the Wharton School of Business).
Sales skills are something you need to cultivate and develop. It is all about understanding the client, understanding what it will take to make them change (Fast Company has a great article on change called "Change or Die"), and what they currently believe as the truth (i.e. what is important in a product, even if is not what you believe is important ... so you better understand their truth).
The sales aspect is so difficult that we brought on a sales consultant from The Complex Sale. They have written a great book entitled "Hope Is Not A Strategy" which talks about winning the complex sale. When I first read the book, I thought to myself: "Simple ... common sense ... I already do all that." And that is what I heard from most of my peers. But that was not the truth (damn, there is that truth thing again). The information in the Fast Company article, and the behaviors that you need to get under your skin from The Complex Sale are the necessary tools to help you close the big difficult sale ... and I am pretty confident that you are NOT doing these things on a consistent basis now.
And that is the truth.
See you on the wire.