I’m not sure how often I’ve heard an entrepreneur say “I hate selling,” but I know that every single time I do, I roll my eyes and express an inward sigh. Sometimes I engage, sometimes I let it go, but every single time I think to myself: what’s wrong with selling? Isn’t that what we’re all in the business of doing, to sell and market our services so that people buy them?

When I do engage, I almost always find that entrepreneur’s discomfort with selling relates to their incorrect perception of what selling is. Don’t confuse selling with spamming, it can backfire in most unpleasant ways. In these cases, helping the entrepreneur to shift their focus from what people perceive selling to be to what it actually is almost always helps people to come to terms with what they’ll need to do in order to push their business towards success.

What selling isn’t

Many of us have a pop culture idea of what a salesperson looks like. They’re often too slick, too pushy, turning everything into a conversation about sales.

But that’s only a stereotype of bad sales. Great salespeople do not:

  • Monopolize a conversation
  • Make everything about their product
  • Insist that their product will solve every problem in the world
  • Use harmful and manipulative techniques to close the deal

What selling is

The very concept of selling has changed since the advent of the Internet. Salespeople no longer go out searching for people to buy. The hard sell no longer works, if it ever did. Salespeople have adapted, over the years, to customers who come to them having already researched the product, the customer support, and the warranty.

What salespeople do now is close the deal by showing the customer the kind of support and excellence they’ll receive when they choose a service.

Sales is:

  • Social
  • Helpful
  • Solution oriented

A customer knows they’re in the hands—or inbox—of a great salesperson when they approach the representative with questions, and the rep ends up determining that the product they’re selling isn’t the right fit for the client at this time. A great salesperson redirects the client to the service that will most meet their needs because a great salesperson knows that having clients who aren’t satisfied doesn’t help the business grow.

At some level, all businesses are about selling. In some companies, that’s more obvious. A retail company, for example, is very up front about its purpose in sales. Or running your first successful e-commerce site is like a dream come true, but it requires much more than well designed website.

But regardless of what your company does, on some level, it is selling its services to someone. The successful entrepreneur is able to make peace with that, and even see value and worth in letting people know what a great job the company is doing, how they’re achieving their mission, and what steps they’re taking to make the world a better place.

If you really hate selling, it might be worth rethinking whether or not owning a small business is right for you. Just having a business idea is not enough; executing the idea is where the value is. If you’re dedicated to the cause of small business ownership, then it’s time to take a fresh look at sales, marketing, and how you portray your business to make sure that you’re able to compete in this part of your business, as well as others.

If you just need to get your toes wet, try:

  • Carefully examining what it is that you hate about selling. Remember, self-reflection is always free!
  • Think hard about whether you can avoid the part of selling that you hate. If face to face communication is very stressful for you, you might do better in an online business where more communication will happen via email, for example.
  • What part of sales can be outsourced? Do you love the lead generation, but hate the calling? Love the calling, but hate providing support? There are many tasks that fall under the umbrella of sales. How can these be divided without affecting the efficiency of your organization?
  • Look for mentorship! Everyone has parts of business that they struggle with. Talk to an entrepreneur you trust about how they embraced the parts of their business that they didn’t love.

How did you learn to love the marketing and sales part of your business?