Good article, entitled 7 Lies that prevent Your Great Idea from becoming a Real Business, from the Liferemix blog.
Amidst a number of very good points is one that I talk about frequently (just lectured on this topic, actually): Sales. I contend that everyone should work sales at some point. Until you do, you exist in an ivory tower removed from customers. This is problematic on a number of levels. Primarily, it’s troublesome because there simply is no business where sales isn’t a key component (including non-profits). The way to succeed at any business is to get as close as possible to your customer. Sales accomplishes this.
As the Liferemix piece notes, people (myself included) often feel that they either don’t like, or are bad at, sales. Often they’re mistaken. It’s one thing to hate/fear selling something you don’t believe in. I’d say that only liars and born-salesman can sell things they don’t believe in. On the other hand, I’d say that when you’re working on something you believe in, selling is a natural extension of all the other aspects of the business. Typically, you can’t help yourself from talking about this thing you love, and you often have to say things like, “I’m not pitching you on this, I’m just talking.” It – as always – comes down to values-alignment.
Here’s what Liferemix says on the subject of sales:
If you really hate trading a product/service for money (the definition of a “sale”), then I don’t know what to tell you. There’s no business without sales.
However, I’ll bet you don’t really hate sales. You hate used car salesmen and cold callers. The good news is that 99.9 percent of business transactions are completely unlike the pushy sales pitch. Businesses that offer actual value don’t have to work very hard to make sales. If you’re making a product or providing a service that people want and it’s priced fairly, then both you and your customers are happier because of the sale.
Dismiss this myth — you don’t hate sales. Do you love talking about your great idea? Sales is just telling people about the awesomeness of your product/service.
The whole article is worth reading.