It has been said many times that ‘selling’ is the worlds highest paid profession. While I had my doubts early on in my career, I have never been more convinced of it that I am now. For quite a few reasons which I have shared below.
There is no limit
If we are in a real sales job, then there is no limit to what we can earn. That is, we work on commission. And while there are plenty of dodgy commission based sales jobs around, the serious sales roles allow sales people to earn as much as possible. It’s a simple formula to let a sales person take a piece of every pie they bake. If we are working in a sales role for a salary, then the truth is we are not really sales people. If we work in a sales role that has guaranteed distribution – then again we are not really in a sales role.
The truth about investment bankers
The general populous has been tricked into thinking that investment bankers (yes the type that hang out in wall street and ruin economies) are mathematicians and brilliant statisticians who work out innovative ways to generate more money than existed before they arrived. Well, the global economy learned the hard way that the people running the finance industry are not a bunch of geniuses who worked out algorithms beyond our comprehension. The reality is that the highly paid investment bankers are the sales people of their organizations simply extracting commissions. It just so happens that small percentages on big numbers really add up. The unfortunate thing for all of us is that they are unscrupulous operators who invent a bunch of bullshit (unsecured debt derivatives anyone?) to sell people sausages at steak prices. But the fact is the money goes to the guy who ‘convinces people to pay’ not the engine room.
Great entrepreneurs are gun sales people
It doesn’t matter how great our startup is, we have to sell the idea. First to investors, then to customers – and very often, even to employees and suppliers. The hardest part about what we do as entrepreneurs is getting people on board. Selling to all the members of our supply chain. Sure, the occasional new product or service enters the market and wows the world and spreads organically, but this is the exception more than the rule. It should be our assumption that we’ll have to sell startup to everyone it touches instead.
The definition of selling has changed
When we hear the term ‘salesperson’ we imagine the someone working in a car yard, or traveling sales guy with a brief case calling on prospects, or the telephone sales cold caller. We need to change our perception of what the sales person is these days. The sales person in the 21st century is the blogger, the tweeter, youtuber, the instagramer, the public speaker, the co-working space provider – anyone who is a self publisher. When we self publish, by definition we are building a personal brand that we hope to sell at some point in the future. It’s pretty much everyone. We’ve now entered the age of the micro entrepreneur and personal branding. And if we can’t sell ourselves, we certainly wont be able to sell anything else. We’re all sales people now.
The final human truth is that selling is technology agnostic. The sales process doesn’t care if we are selling potatoes, micro chips and iPhone apps. The process remains unchanged, even though the tools are broadening. And if we want to succeed at anything, at least financially, then we need to embrace the idea that selling is where the money is, always has been, and always will be.
Today I was having a chat with an aspiring web entrepreneur. She contacted me for some advice via skype. I asked her a question about her target audience, suggesting she focus on the top end of town and I thought was worth sharing here:
Antony: I thought it’s best to focus on all small & medium companies rather than big giants
Steve: The size of the company is totally irrelevant. What IS relevant – is why your business solves their problems….
I don’t think you can delineate between big or small business being harder to sell to. I’ve had just as many challenges with each…
Small biz can be tighter with their funds….
Big biz can be locked into deals….
and vice versa…. it’s in our mind….
Steve: What matters is the value your business creates…. when you create value that matters – then the sell gets easier – regardless of the target…
Subject: Order on line
I am trying to buy a wallet on line – but there is no way to add item to shopping basket.
To: “Sammartino, Steve”
Subject: RE: Order on line
Our online store currently offers watches and audio product only. For a larger range of our clothing and accessories please visit our preferred online retailer here:
Subject: Re: re: Order on line
Hmm – that’s pretty 1996 don’t you think?
Surfstitch.com.au don’t have the item I want… ?????
Can I order over the phone and pay via credit card and get sent to me that way?
Let me know,
I’m yet to hear back from these guys yet. Although they did give their initial response within 30 minutes. I’m still waiting for the second response. A person with credit card in hand, ready to buy.
Ignoring the fact that it is totally ridiculous to sell some things on line and not others, it is more ridiculous to not call me back (they have my number), take my order, take my money, go down to the warehouse and grab the item and put it in an express post or fed ex bag.
When it comes to selling on-line, being half committed is often worse than not being involved at all.
When I buy something via iTunes it doesn’t feel like money. Especially when it is an app that is a few dollars at most. It’s easy to press a button which confirms a purchase at a value which is lower than anything you can buy in the real world. A coffee or coca-cola is $3.50 these days. it doesn’t end there though. When we get the bill on our credit card it’s the smallest number on the page.
Mobile phone plan $59
Restaurant XYZ $179
Again – the comparative spend makes it easy to ignore it as inconsequential expenditure. Yet, for some reasons we’ll switch brands at a supermarket to save 15 cents on the purchase of toothpaste.
There’s an important lesson for entrepreneurs here, and that is the selling environment and immediate comparison.
How can we sell our brand in place where it looks cheaper than everything else on offer, as the biggest barrier isn’t how much money it costs, but how much it costs relative to the things around it? It turns out that what the price is, is not nearly as important as where the price is.
There is no point being a successful entrepreneur, or selling a startup if we have no idea how to handle the money we get. So here is my top 10 financial life hacks.
- Spend less than you earn, no matter what that amount is. The net result is happiness.
- Allocate cash to savings & investments before anything the day you get your profits, pay or dividends.
- Never go into debt for anything which does not appreciate in value.
- The real definition of an Asset: Anything that puts money in your pocket. The accounting definition of an asset is flawed.
- Do not trade stocks. Trading makes the broker and tax man rich and you poor.
- The greatest financial instrument is ‘compounding’. It only happens when we hold assets, not by trading them.
- If you can’t afford a consumer product in cash, you can’t afford it.
- There is no such thing as ‘financial engineering’. It was invented by Wall street to trick you.
- The best type of share investment is an Index Fund. They are investments in civilization. If that fails, we have bigger worries than our money.
- Invest more in education than entertainment & ‘things’ and you will outdo society financially.
I was asked today about how blogs should be built and leveraged from a commercial perspective. It seems to be a regular question I’m asked. The giving element that is required in the blogosphere seems counter intuitive to the way our minds have been trained via the industrial complex. They often struggle with the fact that we just have to give, and the law of natural economics just kicks in. So I came up with this analogy which I think makes sense and explains how it should be approached philosophically.
Blogs are like a football stadium.
The game is played in the middle of the ground.
In blogs the middle of the ground happens to be where our posts are geographically placed.
This is why people come to our blog. To see the action. To learn from and be entertained by the actual game (posts)
But like all good stadiums we have related infrastructure around the edges. Our details, company, tweetstream, contacts.
If they like the game we play (our posts) they return. The crowd gets bigger, and they tell their friends to come.
Like the stadium the revenue comes from all the related elements like the concession stands, the parking and the sponsorship. The stuff that generally lives around the edges… both in stadiums and our blogs.
But we must never forget why they are here. To enjoy the game. They only ever return because the enjoy the game (the blog posts). So what we need to do is build our industry around the game, rather than charging for tickets at the gate. Charging entry just doesn’t work beause there is far too many games they can attend. (more than 200 million in fact)
So when someone asks you about how to make a blog work. Remind them of ‘stadium economics’ and that it’s the quality of the information and entertainment which earns us the right to sell them the occasional hot dog.
I’m really loving the worldometers website. It’s a list of global statistics which are updated in real time
Not only is it a very interesting, but it is a terrific resource for entrepreneurs and marketers alike. No matter what your business you could grab some statistics from it to open the mind of your audience in a presentation. For example:
If in the distribution, health, food business we could present this statistic:
Undernourished people in the world = 1,026,904,563
Overweight people in the world = 1,153,103,026
Which shows that there ‘is’ enough food int he world, it’s just in the wrong places. It’s a distribution issue.
If in the eco energy, or environment industry we could share the following:
Energy used worldwide today = 422,173,999 (MWh)
Solor energy striking the earth today = 39,886,999,999 (MWh)
Showing that we have the 40x the natural resources needed, we just need to harness it.
In fact, the way we could use these statistics is limited only to our imagination. And when we are presenting to audiences, it’s their imagination that we should really be trying to inspire.