In my last Linked In post, I talked about Founder Selling and how it’s a great way to take control of your scale up by personally taking responsibility for making sales in your business.
The reason this approach works so well is that you are the founders with the inspiring vision, the guys that prospects really want to meet with. And the reason they want to meet you is because you have the all-important passion, and passion is a powerful tool to inspire people to buy your products and services.
But, as I explained last time, passion alone is not enough. I believe it must be part of a three-step process which includes relentless Curiosity and a solid value Proposition. So, assuming you get the other two components of this three-step process spot on, passion will then become the key differentiator.
And in sales, differentiation is of critical importance. You need to become great at differentiating against your competitors on a daily basis. The bottom line is if you get the passion piece right, you will impress in sales conversations, acquire a lot of customers and scale up successfully.
What is passion?
So, what is passion? I love this quote from Roald Dahl: “Uncle Oswald taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be."
It elegantly sums up the mindset you need to adopt as an ambitious entrepreneur if you are to convince, energise and persuade people to buy into you, your products and your company.
Are all entrepreneurs passionate?
My experience is successful entrepreneurs are passionate about their vision. And in the super league we see examples of this every day - Branson, Jobs, Zuckerberg, Musk et al – you’ve got to admit they are passionate people. But, I must also admit that I meet a lot of entrepreneurs day-to-day who I do not find to be all that passionate.
In fact, I’d estimate only about 10-20% of entrepreneurs I meet are genuinely passionate. What do I mean when I say this? What I mean is that when I ask them why they have set up their business I do not hear an answer brimming with inspiring vision, focus and passion. I often hear answers that are logical, product-focused and completely uninspiring. Perhaps they think by adopting a dispassionate, clinical, logical, ‘business-like’ approach that people will respect and trust them? Unfortunately for them, it’s more likely they’ll be ignored and forgotten.
When it comes to dispensing advice to entrepreneurs on scale up, I will only consider advising them if I feel they are 100% passionate. Because I know from experience how important it is as a key success factor. And, if they are not super-passionate in the early stages, will they really be passionate when times get tough or will the levels drop even more? And from a personal perspective, I just can't work with people who are not passionate. If they can’t energise and excite me, think about how the poor customers will feel!
Why is passion so powerful?
Let’s be clear - passion is not excitement at the chance to jump on a trend to make a quick profit. It should be about the belief in your product, the idea that it may have a positive impact on the community or the world in some way. Genuine passion should be enough to keep you motivated day in and day out, during all the ups and downs of growing an entrepreneurial business.
And the good news is when you get this right, passion will bring emotion into the equation. The emotion can be extremely powerful. Yes you are selling to a ‘buyer’ but this buyer is normally a human being who is capable (believe it or not!) of human emotions. And even logical, analytical, professional buyers in some of the biggest corporations in the world will be positively influenced by your passion.
The best thing about passion is that if you use it well it can mobilise people to believe in you and ‘follow you’. As an entrepreneur who is doing the founder selling, you can employ your passion to create an impact and help you to start to build a ‘tribe’ of followers (prospects, clients and your own people). No matter what type of business you run, if you can effectively build a following, you will be well on the way to success.
Lead with your passion
Let’s be clear, you can't manufacture passion. It should come from within, from your burning belief that you have created something that is a game changer. So, what do you need to do to put your passion to best use?
It’s simple - just be yourself, be authentic, be honest. And make sure when prospects ask you what you do, that your elevator pitch or proposition is not some dull, regurgitated ramble about what your product features are, who your customers are, how many countries you sell into…yawn, yawn :-(. Yes, they will need to know that stuff at some stage, but that can come later…
So, when people ask you the ‘what do you do?’ question this is your chance!
Light up, express yourself and display your passion with pride – talk about the purpose and belief in your business and products, why you set up your company, why you passionately believe you're going to make a difference in this market, what makes you special and why you believe your product can make a big difference to your clients.
Be honest, be enthusiastic, be positive, be passionate and you will notice good things happening in your scale up journey.