By , Ben Simkin
Published July 07, 2016
Without question, sales have changed demonstrably in the last decade.
Remember the good old days, when you simply had to hide in the kitchen until the pesky Cutco sales representative vacated your front steps? Now, you’re forced to hide all those targeted online ads that look, well, exactly like that knife set you’ve been eyeballing. How did they know?
Big data has empowered the sales, marketing and advertising industry with a wealth of information about their prospective buyers. Honestly, it’s insane. Not only do they know who you are and what you shop for, but they also analyze your behavior patterns to predict what future actions you will take. Large corporations can easily justify and absorb the upfront investment in expensive analytics software because it clearly pays a healthy dividend.
So salivate all you want, budding entrepreneurs, but most of you are a far cry from being able to afford that type of technology. That is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s the best thing that could have happened to you.
You see, the artistry of sales is not dead, despite what others may have you believe. Sales is deeply engrained in business at every level, from customer service all the way to the boardroom. CEOs don’t cut deals and forge strategic partnerships by dumb luck. They’ve learned to sell so well that their targets don’t even know they’re being sold. They’re weapons-grade sales machines.
Related: How I Got Into Sales
As a newly minted entrepreneur, sharpening your sales' skills on a budget is pertinent to your long-term success, especially when the stakes get real.
Take Alexander Westgarth. Alexander took a job right out of college as a vintage wine broker. In case you didn’t know, that’s a multi-billion dollar business. At the time, his entire livelihood depended on his ability to close. Every lost sale was a direct hit to his wallet and a valuable lesson learned.
Related: 12 Ways to Increase Online Sales
For Alexander, an entrepreneur by nature, sales were only ever meant to be a starting point, a foot-in-the-door to the business world. However, the more he learned about selling, the more he realized that he was honing a craft accretive to his long-term career goals.
Once he understood this, Alexander began to crush his quota. He no longer simply closed deals, he forged meaningful relationships with his customers. He sold real value, not a fleeting emotion. He built trust, and in turn, a reputation by consistently delivering on his promises. It didn’t happen overnight, but his sales' skills were like compound interest - they grew exponentially over time.
Eventually, Alexander leveraged his sales' experience, entrepreneurial spirit and human capital and founded his own fine wine brokerage firm, Westgarth Wines. In less than four years, he catapulted the company into a multimillion dollar business with offices in Los Angeles and London. The growth and success Westgarth Wines experienced is a direct result of the lessons Alex gleaned from early entrepreneurship; the most significant of them being salesmanship of the highest order.
Young entrepreneurs, the business world is unforgiving. The odds are stacked against you. Statistically, you’re going to fail, so please heed this piece of advice: If you have an opportunity to learn how to sell well, take it without a second thought.
Find a successful salesperson, and beg him or her for mentorship. Better yet, find a successful C-Suite executive at a company you admire, and beg them for mentorship. You can pretty much guarantee you’ll be learning from a weapons-grade sales machine.