No excuses!
Written by Gordon McAlpine
As the Founder or CEO, you too may well have reservations about whether you should or can sell, so let’s take a look at some of the common excuses to see why this attitude can be a barrier to successful scale-up and how to overcome it.

Excuse 1:  I’m not a sales person 

I didn’t believe I could ever be a good sales person either, but having plunged into it accidentally, I would definitely say that selling has been the most significant factor in driving my career success. I hear this excuse all the time, but I strongly believe it’s your job to sell. 

The problem often arises because beliefs about what selling actually is are often wrong.  Once you master selling, you will have greater control and confidence in your ability to grow a successful business. Selling is a key business skill that will make you a stronger entrepreneur.

Excuse 2:  I’m the CEO; my job is to focus on strategy.  

Business doesn’t exist without sales. Strategy without sales is meaningless. As the boss, you need to set an example. If you believe that your skill set lies elsewhere and have a co-founder, it is imperative that at least one of you is fully focused on sales. But if you are the CEO, you should spend as much time in front of clients and potential clients as you do in the office.

Excuse 3:  I’ll hire a sales person when we have more budget.  

Where do you think the budget comes from? Sales! You must realise that nobody you hire is going to have the same level of passion as you. Good sales people command a premium and until you start filling your bank account, you will not be able to afford anyone in your league. If you’re looking for funding to drive your growth, you may also find that investors push back against their money being spent on star sales people.

Better to decide when and who you recruit from a position of strength. Also, if you haven’t mastered sales yourself when you start recruiting a sales team, you won’t be tuned in to your team. You can (and must) recruit and develop a sales team as you scale up – but it begins with you.

Excuse 4:   I’ve already got a sales team, so sales is sorted 

Even if you’ve already hired a sales director/manager and a small sales team, sales is never ‘sorted’ as you can always improve performance. Get back out there and sell your vision to prospects, customers, partners – in fact, anyone who is prepared to listen. Gain respect for yourself (and, as you grow, from your team) by making the most important element of a business – the ability to sell – your core skill. At my technology firm, I continued to sell (as well as lead the sales team) from day one right up to the day of my exit. Believe me, you will gain maximum respect from your staff if you lead from the front!

Excuse 5: I don’t have the time to sell

Unless you’re speaking to customers or serving customers you should always make time for selling. If you think that you don’t have time, what are you doing? It’s easy to fill our days emailing, firefighting, tweeting/posting and just generally keeping busy. But if you don’t take the responsibility for driving sales you may find yourself with a nice of office, cool brand, great processes, but little sales revenue, no profit and no business. Do you think Sir Richard Branson ever says to his team ‘Sorry guys, I can’t go to this event that could make our Virgin Galactic sales sky-rocket, I need to clear my inbox.’? The best of the best entrepreneurs always make time for selling!


About the author: Gordon McAlpine

Gordon McAlpine is a sales guru and serial entrepreneur. After a stellar start to his sales career at Astra Zeneca, he co-founded tech start-up BigHand from his living room, and as Sales & Marketing Director was responsible for driving the global Scale Up to successful exit.

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