Here’s a harsh reality. Although many entrepreneurs may have the skills to create and sell a product or service, sometimes their abilities to manage employees, market their services, or deal with customer complaints are lacking.
I get it, as an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get caught up running day-to-day operations. However, whether your goal is to raise capital or build a team to support future demand, soft skills are critical for sustaining business growth.
Look at it this way:
Building a rock star team and handling difficult customer conversations, that’s setting expectations, managing your emotions, and communicating assertively.
Delivering a pitch presentation to an investor, that’s using storytelling to capture their attention, and communicating your ideas and value proposition in such a way that it wins them over.
I could go on and on but you get the point. Soft skills are no longer a nice to have but a must-have — especially if you have the vision to level up. If you’re in the business of selling products and services, the four soft skills below can position you for success.
Considering the advances in communication technology and the challenges of managing a multigenerational workforce, the definition of leadership has evolved.
“Leadership is not a rank or a position to be held. Leadership is a service to be given.” – Simon Sinek
Leaders who have a desire to innovate and grow must embrace a servant model of leadership. This model puts people — employees at the heart of the business. Traits of a servant leader include practicing empathy, transforming managers into coaches, building trust, and creating a culture of feedback. Nowadays, employees want to feel like they can share and contribute to the growth of the organization.
A growth mindset is when a person believes their talents, skills, and abilities will grow over time. Despite mistakes and setbacks, they challenge themselves to keep moving forward. If I was faced with rejection but had a growth mindset, I would say, “Rejection is part of the process. What can I learn from this? How can I improve? However, if I had a fixed mindset: “Rejection is a sign that I’m not talented enough. I quit.”
Entrepreneurs live in a constant state of uncertainty, so it’s easy to fall victim to a fixed mindset. One of the best things you can do is surround yourself with a group of likeminded people. Therapy is another option for helping an entrepreneur navigate challenges and develop a growth mindset.
Storytelling has been around for years, so it’s certainly nothing new. However, in a noisy digital world, storytelling is your secret weapon. From promoting product stories to influencing consumer behavior to sharing founder stories to humanize your brand — your ability to tell stories is a competitive advantage.
People buy into people, not companies. Consider co-creating stories with your customers, using passionate employees and adding a social change component to amplify your company story.
If you’re selling a product or service, factors such as pricing, features, and benefits impact a customer’s purchasing decisions. However, customers also want to feel good about doing business with you.
Mastering the four key skills of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) (e.g., self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management) helps you to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships.
Sales and emotional intelligence go hand in hand. Sensing how customers feel during an interaction, putting yourself in their shoes, and managing your emotions during a sales interaction are key to closing a deal.
While there is no one blueprint for success, your ability to grow the business of your dreams, requires an equal balance of soft skills as well as hard skills.