Nothing happens until someone makes a sale.
Absolutely %$#&! nothing.
The importance of sales skills to a startup cannot be overplayed. If you don't have someone on board who can sell and enjoy doing so, you are dead in the water. The following excerpt from an article written by Bob Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet, which appeared in MIT’s Technology Review (Nov/Dec 99) perfectly sums up the critical importance of selling:
I have a six-story townhouse in Boston overlooking MIT on the Charles River. I often invite young engineers and would-be entrepreneurs over to schmooze. Many of them tell me my townhouse is beautiful and that they hope to invent something like Ethernet that will get them such a house.
The picture they have in their heads is of me lounging around on the beanbag chairs in a conference room at Xerox PARC in 1973. They see me having this idea for a computer network and submitting it as an invention proposal to Xerox. Then they envision me putting my feet up and letting the royalties roll in until I have enough to come up with a down payment on the townhouse with the river view.
My picture—the actual picture—is different. It’s a picture of innovation rather than invention…. In my picture it’s the dead of winter and I’m in the dark in a Ramada Inn in Schenectady, New York. A telephone is ringing with my wake-up call at 6 a.m., which is 3 a.m. in California, where I flew in from last night. I don’t know yet where I am, or where that damn ringing is coming from, but within the hour I’ll be in front of hostile strangers selling them on me, my company, and its strange products, which they have no idea they need.
If I persist in selling like this for 10 years, and I do it better and better each time, and I build a team to do everything else better and better each time, then I get the townhouse. Not because of any flowery genius in some academic hothouse.
Despite persistent negative stereotypes of salespeople and selling, the profession has always has always consisted primarily of honorable and ethical people.
- Rivers Corbett
- Rivers Corbett, MBA is an award winning entrepreneur, speaker, and author of "13 Fears of Entrepreneurs" He has received numerous business honors including Entrepreneur of the Year, Canada's Hottest Start-ups List and Canada's Fastest Growing Companies list through Profit magazine and most recently recognized as one of Canada's 10 Mentor RockStars.. Rivers is presently a member of Startup Canada's National Advisory Council, founding entrepreneur of StartUP Fredericton & the "Entrepreneur in Residence" at the University of New Brunswick. His real joy and expertise is being a StartUP Advisor and "zagging while everyone else zigs"...like his two newest businesses ventures the Relish Gourmet Burgers restaurant chain and TheRockStar StartUP for StartUP entrepreneurs. Oh... he is also the leader of a team of over 25 chefs through his other company The Chef Group. Not bad for a guy who hates to cook. Always looking for a new idea to help businesses' succeed...this is his newest marketing discovery for StartUPs The Lyoness Advantage. "Rivers is a 21st century entrepreneur, he's the one to watch" - Jim Gilbert: Canada's Huggable Car Dealer!