In my last post I talked about the barriers I had to overcome to become comfortable with selling my ideas. As Fred Wilson says, some blog comments deserve more prominence than the posts themselves, and Eric Norlin wrote a cracker on the true value of salesmanship. I recommend checking out the whole thing, but the money quote for me was:
Your job *begins* at "no." if all you hear is "yes," then you’re an
order-taker (not a sales person), and you should go get a job at
Selling is the heart and soul of being an entrepreneur. I’m starting something that I can’t complete on my own, so I need to persuade a whole parade of people to join me and get it done. Everything I’m doing, from this blog, the technical demos I produce, to the conversations I have with smart people I seek out, is part of selling my ideas. It’s not a one-way street, I’m constantly learning more about what other people need so I can do better. I love this process, I really get a kick out of talking with so many folks who are interested in solving the same problems as me. I walk out of almost every meeting with more energy than when I went in. I often hit resistance, but there’s always a reason behind it, and often that’s the seed that inspires me to find an improved solution.
Eric talks about styles of selling, and I’m definitely more comfortable in a relaxed and unstructured setting where I can really connect with the other person. I recognize that the classic pitch is a necessary part of the funding process, VCs are busy people who can’t afford to sit around and chat with everyone who’d like to see them. They need a time-efficient way of understanding the basics of a proposition, but it still feels like speed-dating to me. I feel a lot happier in the Q&A portion, where I can move away from the superficial sound-bites and go into more depth.
I’m definitely still working on my salesmanship, but as Eric says, it can be immense fun once you relax and enjoy it.