Entrepreneurs who are bootstrapping their own startup face all kinds of challenges. If they don’t have the funding or revenue yet to provide for a full-time sales rep or sales team, that often means they need to sell on their own. As I’ve seen quite often with colleagues who have attempted to follow their dream of running a business, the biggest barriers aren’t time, or even skill set, but psychological.
It’s easy enough to understand why this would be. An entrepreneur has a great idea that they think is going to change the world, sacrificing their savings, their time and potentially their own family’s harmony in pursuit of their dream. But when it comes time to actually sell, the fear of rejection is paralyzing. What if they just wasted all their capital, metaphorical or otherwise, in pursuit of failure?
For all those entrepreneurs who are their own salespeople out there, let me let you in on a secret that all professional sales people know in their heart: rejection is a good thing.
To be sure, rejection is not the best thing. It would be far better for you if everyone instantly loved what you were selling, bought a billion widgets from you and you ended up on the cover of Forbes magazine by next quarter. Yes, that would be the best thing – but it almost never happens.
Rejection is a good thing because it forces you to re-examine your assumptions. It forces you to ask questions – and adapt, when you get the answers. It’s far better to put your product out there and find out that it’s not quite what people are looking for (whether in terms of pricing, quality, features, purchasing terms or some other factor), than to spend years in your garage workshop perfecting a product that no one even wants.
Once you get past that fear or rejection, you can focus on what you actually need to do. Have that conversation with your first trial or beta customers. See what they like and what they don’t like. Is your solution aligned with their needs? If not, can you change the product? Alternatively, if your product isn’t a good fit for the initial market you’re targeting, has your initial outreach shown that you could actually penetrate the market in another segment?
To make sure that initial feedback you’re getting is clear, ask clear questions. Don’t be wishy-washy in polls, surveys and phone conversations. Be clear on the value you’re offering – and be open to them asking you questions. Be ruthless about getting real feedback that helps you take action.
As an entrepreneur, you’ve got plenty of priorities – but selling is how you’re going to get to that next level.