The 6 critical mindset shifts needed to go from corporate career to successful entrepreneur: Part 5.

What's the number one thing people struggle with when starting and running their own business?

I'll give you a clue. It scares the crap out of most people. They say they hate it, they can't do it, they're not cut out for it, it makes them feel sleazy....

Got it yet?

It's selling. The thing I hear more often than anything else is how people get hung up and tripped up when they feel they have to sell.

Okay, rewind and reset.

Running your own business requires you to make money. And in order to make money, you have to sell things, whether those things be products or services. But here's a thought: Instead of 'selling', try 'serving'. Do that and it changes everything. You no longer have to sell because people buy from you. The entire transaction changes. It never feels sleazy, pushy, or wrong. It feels natural and genuine. And it works.

Before you roll your eyes, pat me on the head, and think I've no clue what I'm talking about, think again. I've been a sales representative, sales manager, marketing director and VP, franchise head, commercial VP, and a General Manager. Every role I had in my corporate career involved sales. I was darn good at it and I loved every single second. Not because I spent my time trying to 'push' products onto people, but because I learned the art of serving very early in my career. There were times when my methods were met with raised eyebrows. But I delivered consistently strong results.

Generally speaking, corporate sales is about 'push'. Corporations need to make money, so they package sales an activity that comes with targets, bonuses, revenue goals, growth targets, market share objectives and, let's be honest, job security. The intense focus placed on those is enormous. But there's a risk and it's a big one. This approach is entirely about the organization making money - it's forced and pushy. The money - the sale - is the 'going in' objective. It's the focal point that drives all actions and behaviour and it can make people do some crazy things. When you feel forced to sell, you'll do anything - and I mean anything - to close that sale. Anything, that is, except listen to what your customer needs and wants.

When you put money at the centre of the sale, you struggle. The sale becomes about you: Your salary, your commission, your bonus, your income, your targets. It's pushy and forced. Force always meets with resistance. When the customer resists, you push harder because you have quotas to meet. When you make a forced sale, you might feel good momentarily but it doesn't last. That's why people working in sales often have short careers.

Now think of sales another way. Think of it as providing a service, solving your customer's problems, meeting their needs, and helping them achieve their goals. When you stop selling and start serving, people buy from you. You don't need to sell. You can do this all day every day and never get burnt out. In fact, it's energizing and hugely rewarding.

This sounds painfully simple doesn't it? It is. And I'm happy to say that many companies nowadays have caught onto the fact that serving makes more money that selling.

Sales is about building relationships with people. It's about building trust, offering help, solving problems, keeping promises, and following through.

Selling is a relationship with a mutually beneficial outcome.

Now, am I saying you should forget goals and targets and objectives? No, of course not. You need to have a plan so you know how much you want to make and how you're going to make it. You should know your revenue streams and how much you expect each one to deliver. But once you've established that, focus your energy and effort on serving your customers the right way. Sales targets determine where you focus your efforts, not how you behave. At least that's how it should be.

Sales is about service. It's about giving all you've got to help your customers. It's about them. It's not about you. It never was.
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