Entrepreneur = Salesperson

At the start of the first day of class my Entrepreneurship professor in business school said two things to the class.

The first was, “if you don’t want to do sales every day, all day, then don’t be an entrepreneur”.  Then he asked everyone that was in sales to raise their hand. After about a third of the class raised their hand he said, “90% of you are not truly salespeople, you’re order takers, because you don’t have a quota and you aren’t getting rejected every single day”. I’m paraphrasing, of course.

While harsh, there’s lot of truth to this. Entrepreneurs are salespeople and salespeople are entrepreneurs.  They put their success and failure out there for everyone to see. A lot of other roles in an organization can take cover behind things like shared goals and muddled metrics and a lack of a direct cause and effect on revenue. Salespeople can’t. They have an individual goal, with clear metrics and a direct impact on revenue.  Like the entrepreneur, salespeople put themselves on the line.

Jim Keenan had a great post on this a while back. To emphasize the point, I’ll post an excerpt from it here:

So why doesn’t everyone want to be a sales person?

Because  . . .

It takes guts to only have HALF your salary guaranteed

It is sucks to be rejected on a daily basis

It’s hard calling up people you don’t know and asking them to meet you

It’s scary asking strangers for things

It’s uncomfortable challenging people

It’s tough being held accountable to black and white metrics. You can’t hide from the numbers

It’s not easy having your results constantly compared, in the open, to your peers

It’s not easy losing

It’s tough being fully accountable for your own success or failure

It’s not fun doing something where you can fail so quickly after be successful

Not everyone likes being in the spotlight

Unpredictability SUCKS

Most people don’t want to be in sales, because it takes GUTS! It takes guts most don’t have.