Great Ideas vs. Entrepreneurial Ideas

What do you get when you have a great idea, mixed with passion and energy?  Some might say you have an invention or inventor, but in reality you only have a great idea.  Now, add in the ability to communicate the benefits of that great idea, the reasons the idea is important to stakeholders and why the great idea is valuable enough to pay for and you have an entrepreneurial idea.

Many great ideas never make it to market because the concept is never communicated effectively to potential investors and users.  Many entrepreneurs might cringe at the word “sales,” but successful entrepreneurs must be good sales people in order to take the idea to market.  Sales skills become most important for the entrepreneur in at least three areas:

1)      when searching for funding and partners,

2)      when hiring the first set of employees, and

3)      when working with buyers and customers.

Success in changing a great idea into an entrepreneurial idea is based on very basic, but crucial non-technical skills:

1. Time-management

2. Effective communication

3. Goal setting and achievement

4. Relationship building (networking)

Passion and a sense for business are essential to bring success to your ideas, but not enough when speaking to Venture Capitalists or investors about joining your team.  The skill sets needed to successfully communicate the benefits of your idea, to both the end user and the investor, include relationship building, identifying the gaps between “what is” and “what should be” and strong communication skills. What makes these skills so essential for entrepreneurs is the concept of customizing the communication so that is resonates with each individual stakeholder.

The message you deliver must be adapted or changed to fit the needs of each person you speak with.

Whether you are a new entrepreneur just starting, or a seasoned entrepreneur finding new barriers in your way, brushing up on your sales skills could prove to be the best return on your time and money.  Your salesmanship skills can be honed by participating in sales seminars, webinars, or taking some classes at your local university.  There is even a plethora of books available at your local bookstore.

Entrepreneurial ideas are the ones that change the world, make lives easier and bring forth financial rewards. Entrepreneurs will likely discover that sales courses provide the missing piece that can make an idea go from great to entrepreneurial.

Photo Credit: Filosofias filosoficas, Wikimedia Commons.

Dena Hale, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Marketing at Nova Southeastern University. Professor Hale is dedicated to providing a sales curriculum and consultative services that promote genuine salesmanship and integrity. She can be reached at

What is Your Relationship Worth?

If you were asked to place a value on your business or personal relationships, how would you express it? If you are like most of us you would probably answer with a determined financial or monetary range of the relationship's worth.

• A retail business might determine a loyal customer to be worth an average of $35 to $45 per visit.

• When hiring human resources, a recruiter may determine that the individual can produce at least the wages and expenses of the position he or she holds.

• If you are a parent, you may be calculating the cost of all those trips and fees for little league, school clothes and books, upcoming college, the cars and required social events .... (I could go on here...)

Ideally, shouldn't we look at the value of the relationship like sales people do? In other words, should we consider the value in other terms?

Value is defined as a ratio and it looks like this:

All The Things You Get VS All The Things You Give Up

Ideally, in order for something to be considered valuable, the stuff you "get" should be greater than the stuff you "give up".

Everyone's definition and interpretation of what is "valuable" differs. For my step-daughter, value would most likely be described in terms of the time she gets to spend with her own daughter. For my student, value would most likely be that "something extra" that helps them to reach their employment goals. The only way to really know what others value is to get to know them and develop relationships.

Building relationships is a fundamental element of being a human being. We all like to be around people that we like and who we can trust. In Professional Selling we say: "you buy from people you like".

To build relationships, and for these relationships to be valuable, there must be more "gotten" than "given". In sales, we have learned that "It's better to give than to receive," because when you give you always get in return. If you put your customers first, you will be well rewarded down the line. So what does this mean for you?

The next time you consider the value of your relationships, ask yourself:

• What value do I bring to the relationship?

• Is what I bring considered valuable by others?

Dena Hale, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Marketing at Nova Southeastern University. Professor Hale is dedicated to providing a sales curriculum and consultative services that promote genuine salesmanship and integrity. She can be reached at More About the Contributor

Chart a Course to Your New Career

Let's be honest, the job market for any industry is a tough one. New college graduates, who were once fought over like first-round draft picks by employers, now face competition from those with proven results and experience. Recent graduates across disciplines immediately assume that technical skills determine who gets hired; however, anyone who can think and learn can be trained in the technical aspects of most jobs.

What makes the difference for employers is one's ability to communicate, learn, grow a network and develop long-term goals.

Many cringe at the word sales, but everyone must be a good sales person in the professional realm in at least three instances: 1) The interview; 2) Negotiating for future benefits and raises; 3) Attempting to gain approval for an idea.

Success in landing the career of your dreams is based on very basic, but crucial non-technical skills: 1) Time-management; 2) Effective communication; 3) Goal setting and achievement; 4) Relationship building (networking).

Every job position within every industry requires new college graduates and seasoned professionals alike to communicate and demonstrate these skills in the interview, and throughout their career.

In order to stand out and be viewed as the right candidate, job seekers need to determine what the hiring firms are missing and communicate their ability to fill the need. The ability to identify gaps and create solutions provides a strong competitive advantage whether you are interviewing for a job or looking to increase productivity in your current position. Demonstrating this ability will set you apart from your peers and set you up for long-term success.

Consider the concept of consultative selling, a model that teaches individuals to engage in a dialogue that brings the buyer's needs to the forefront of any customized solution. The skill sets needed to successfully complete this model include relationship building, identifying the gaps between "what is" and "what should be" and strong communication skills. What makes this model so essential is its application outside the traditional selling career.

Medical professionals are faced with selling their patients on changing damaging lifestyle behaviors and actively participating in a long-term, mutually agreed upon health program. Engineers often have to sell changes to specifications demanded by clients/owners due to budget constraints, regulations or aesthetic harmony. Accountants and financial advisors must sell clients on the most appropriate investments options, balancing the client's risk, trust level and desired level of return. And small business owners and entrepreneurs need to sell themselves to investors in order to obtain required start-up capital for growth, creation or expansion.

You don't need a college degree for many entry level jobs. But taking a sales course and refining your communication skills can make the difference between getting an entry-level job, or an entry-level career.

Dena Hale, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Nova Southeastern University. Professor Hale is dedicated to providing a sales curriculum and consultative services that promote genuine salesmanship and integrity. About the Contributor