Ask almost any business owner and they'll tell you this: Your sales team keeps the lights on. It's not a stretch. Salespeople are responsible for hitting revenue targets, creating a sales funnel and bringing in new business – tasks that keep companies healthy and thriving.
But selling is the responsibility of more than just a few employees. From the founder convincing potential employees, partners and customers of her vision to the marketing department presenting a pitch and the business development team going after additional revenue channels, selling is a skill needed throughout the entire company. But it isn't easy. It requires a person to exude confidence, be well informed and able to close deals.
Fortunately, we have Joe Gustafson, the CEO and founder of Brainshark, a company that provides sales-enablement solutions, as our expert this month. Gustafson has helped thousands of companies – including half of the Fortune 100 -- improve sales, marketing and training effectiveness. Under his guidance, Brainshark was named the top “Sales Solutions Technology Partner of the Year” at the Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer Service earlier this year.
Before heading up Brainshark, Gustafson was the founder and CEO of Relational Courseware Inc., a company that developed and marketed computer-based training courses. The company was initially bootstrapped but ended up attracting high-profile companies as customers including Oracle, Sybase and NCR. The company was acquired by Gartner in 1996; Gustafson went on to serve as Gartner's SVP of strategic planning.
Because of his accomplishments, he was a former finalist for Ernst & Young’s "Entrepreneur of the Year" award in New England. And fortunately, he is looking to help our readers with the selling game.
"For the average entrepreneur starting a company, sales may not be their biggest strength and may not even be top of mind. That is, it can be easy and tempting to focus more on what you’re building than on how you distribute it," Gustafson says. But you don’t want to avoid that blind spot, as sales is one of the most important functions you need to build quickly and successfully."
We are thrilled to have Gustafson as our expert for the month of October. He is looking to take your questions about all things sales related. Think: sales, pitches, presentations, training and coaching. He is also open to discuss leaders' roles in the selling process, including hiring first head of sales, firing and establishing a sales model.
Submit your questions in the comments section below or tweet us, using the hashtag #ENTexpert. One topic will be selected by the editors of Entrepreneur and addressed by Gustafson in a weekly writeup.