Sales has a bad rep, yet it’s absolutely critical to your business. I’m Mimi Evans, and I’m going to explain to you what’s good about selling and how easy it can be to sell to humans.

If You Talk to Customers, You Are in Sales

I’m going to start with a story. Recently I was at the Harvard i-lab and I was part of an intensive three-day program. They had four or five students in a group, and I was a mentor on day two. So I sat down with the groups and I asked them ‘which one of you is in sales?’ And not a single hand went up. So I rephrased the question. ‘Which one of you is going to be talking to customers?’

You, as a founder, must have sales skills to thrive and survive. It’s this simple. I want you to say to yourself ‘I’m not selling to a company, I’m selling to people’. And here’s the good news: the people that you’re working with and selling to have human nature, and its human nature for them to want to connect with you and want to help you. So it’s 100% natural to be in a sales conversation. And if you practice, I guarantee you that it will also start to feel natural.

Sell to People, Not Companies

When I started my business, I decided I was going to sell to Microsoft. And at the time in 2003, Microsoft was and still is an intimidating company. But the good news is, I knew a person at Microsoft. So I told myself, “Microsoft, I’m selling to someone who knows and trusts me.” And Microsoft became my customer.

Some founders I talk to tell me that they’re afraid to go to the big guys because they think they might screw up. What if they don’t like my product? But I say: just do it. Because you’re selling to humans, not companies. Do it by remembering that you’re selling to the person, and not the company, and that you’re going to provide them with two things. Number one, you are going to solve or fix a problem that they have, or number two, you are going to give them something better than what they have now. So you’re either handling a pain or giving them a gain. So how hard could that be?

Forget thinking of it as selling, think of it as helping that person in the business that they’re doing. You are a founder, you’re a salesman now, time to enjoy it and get on board for the best ride of your life.