With over 30 years of experience in a variety of client and business development senior roles, Mark Mantha brings a vast knowledge of various industries to Futurpreneur Canada as a mentor, including healthcare, IT, consumer, communications and digital media. Mark has won awards for his outstanding history in his business development efforts, program launches, sales management and more and has even worked with Fortune 500 companies. Recently (2011) he took this experience and established MAN-MAC Consulting Inc., a global leader in the digital media marketplace.

We chatted with Mark about one of his areas of expertise, sales to hear some of his biggest tips for entrepreneurs. Here is what he had to say…

How would you define the difference between sales and marketing?

Sales is the process and relationship build to sell your “stock” (company product or services). Marketing is aligning with the marketplace and targets to build your brand awareness and brand equity. There is confusion here with young companies and at times the lines do get blurred. Building your brand and your value proposition to the market is being disruptive and having a presence bigger than your company. Too many start-ups have a great story and product suite to parlay but are very covert in their marketing of that message. They get caught up in “selling” of something that is “unknown by an unknown”. Put simply, salespeople service demand and marketing generates demand.

What are your top tips for entrepreneurs developing their sales pitch?

Stop pounding your chest—talk about the market and value proposition in alignment to the pent up market demands. It’s not about you, it’s about filling needs. Sales have morphed tremendously and you must become a trust ally and confidant. Stop talking and start listening—any market will tell you where to go or what is missing. Focus on the customer’s problems and address the issue with appropriate offerings (products and services). I see so many presentations even at senior levels of companies where people talk about themselves and their next best mousetrap for an hour totally alienating themselves from the prospect.

What is the biggest mistake you see people make when it comes to sales?

Trying to put a square peg in a round hole aka not understanding need satisfaction selling (see above). Take on a consultative approach. No one client has similar needs to the next. This is not about YOU it is about them to set yourself apart you must be a valued resource and problem solver not a believer that you have the next revolutionary product. Know your audience! Many young companies take a broad brush approach to selling and prospects are miffed by the speculative approach they take. You seldom get a second chance when you don’t understand your audience and their needs.

What is your biggest tip for stewarding relationships with customers that are already in your pipeline?

Create a personal touch/relations. People buy from people they do not buy from companies. Relationship selling is based on the concept that building long-lasting relationships with people will lead to future sales. If prospects view you as an industry expert and valued advisor they will run to you for guidance and council. Selling is about comfort and when any company or person feels comfortable about you, your product suite and your company they will open up their purse strings and look to develop a partnership versus a vendor relationship.

What is your biggest piece of advice for entrepreneurs (aspiring and current)?

Market research. It’s not about building a market or next widget, it’s about supplying to a market needing help and filling a void. This is akin to watching Shark Tank or Dragons’ Den where entrepreneurs think they have just solved world hunger based on an app or a brain child derived out of their basement. Do your homework. Is your idea or product ready for primetime? Is there a growing market for such? Is there pent up demand? What are the competitive pressures? If they have never done or even looked at doing at SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis it is worth the time, money and effort.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Selling begins when the customer says no. Know their business better than they know their business. Young sales people can give up easily on their message when early rejection kicks in. Remember that nothing will be handed to you.

To learn more about sales and improve your skill set, visit our Business Resource Centre at www.futurpreneur.ca/en/resources/.

Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Specialist, Futurpreneur Canada

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