What “I” Learned Teaching #Entrepreneurship This Semester

I have written a little bit about teaching entrepreneurship at UNC Charlotte this semester. It was my second semester of teaching and I believed that the class got better. I am looking forward and the University agrees, which is great, that this is a long-term venture for both of us.

My Dad

I remember a lot of things from my childhood. I remember going to class with my Dad as he taught education courses at ASU. I also have one of those random memories of him telling my Mom that the Dean of his school told him that if there was any topic he was interested in learning about that he would let him teach a class on it. Even as a young kid that struck me as odd because I believed that the teacher should know the subject they are teaching before they taught. Well… Dad… and nameless/faceless dean at ASU – I know now what you were talking about.

Yep!

I believe that I knew a lot about my topic. I had technically never been trained in the discipline of entrepreneurship… I didn’t even know how to spell it before I taught. I had, however, started my first company is 1976 at the age of 7 and then a series of companies after that. Even to the point to where I made so much money in the 2nd grade selling things that my parents were uncomfortable with it and made me give back the money (I am still a little mad about that). In my 20s I had a successful run with helping to start Careershop.com and then my 30s and 40s with AvidXchange… from 5 people to 650 and growing now. However after teaching two semesters it is becoming clear that no one really knows what entrepreneurship means and everyone thinks they know what entrepreneurship means (I hope you get that). Even the word “entrepreneurship” seems to send people in many directions.

Here Is What I Learned!

In no particular order, I had a few extremely big learning moments:

  • There are some truly brilliant young people out there!
  • Exams are as stressful on the professor as well as the students
  • Entrepreneurship can be measured and has principles like
    • Creative Destruction
    • Jumping Curves
    • The Golden Circle
  • Entrepreneurship is more a study of personal success than business tactics
  • We need to find a new name because Entrepreneurship seems to be confusing people

Changes – Getting Better

The biggest learning beside the quality of the students and how they really take to real world concepts and how fired up they get about entrepreneurship (once they know what it is) is the fourth bullet about success. I had wanted to teach a University level class on what makes people successful. I thought about pitching it to UNCC or another one of the area colleges and then I realized that I really didn’t need to, and the opportunity that I had right in front of me was all I needed. (So) This summer when I teach entrepreneurship, every day in my three-hour class, there will be an hour of success teaching – studying what makes people successful, an hour of principle and concept based learning and an hour of practical application.

I am excited – I hope you are!

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information

Entrepreneurial Sales – Teaching Your Customers – #selling #sales #entrepreneurship

einstein quote

I love the quote by Einstein and more importantly I am so attached to the sentiment. In by business career as soon as I hit an achievement I realize that there is a “next” achievement to be had. That puts me in a position to learn more and more.

Teaching

One of things that I have learned lately is the value of teaching your customers to buy from you. It’s not the traditional view of teach… “Here is what is good about what I offer– therefore – you should buy”. That’s the traditional model where it is mostly feature based. The thing that I am learning is that my offering has multiple ideas or concepts that are much more valuable to the customer’s business than any feature you have to offer.

Idea

One of the ideas that I teach customers (in my business – as an example) is the true value of automation. Automation, especially in the accounting process, it typically judged by the corresponding benefits that are attached to the features. If you sell that why… you will live by the feature and (guess what) die by the feature. If you don’t have a feature that the customer wants (this is usually driven by a competitor) then you don’t have a deal. However, if you teach the customer about the concept of automation, which is using their employees on higher value task than low value task, then your customer will focus more on the overall picture rather than to a small set of features.

The Problem

The previous information isn’t what I have been learning lately. I have known and have capitalized on the no-feature sale for a long time. What I have been advancing is that there is no single value that fits all opportunities. I call this the law of 4-6. The law state that there are 4 to 6 decision makers in each opportunity and the key is to:

  1. Find the 4 – 6
  2. Isolate their main driver for each
  3. Attach their driver to your offering

What I am finding out; reps are attempting to go into an opportunity with a single value based on what the rep thinks is the highest values of their offering (or what they have been told is the highest value) and presenting it or selling it to the 4 – 6 (I am being kind became most reps will only find 1 to 2 of these people). The reason this is a problem is it has a tendency to sell a message to a person who has no desire or interest to consume or even benefits from that offering.

Deal With It!

I am a broken record on the idea that if you don’t deal with “it” – “it” will deal with you. The “it” in this situation is selling the wrong message to the wrong person and then somehow wondering why the people just don’t seem to “get it” or don’t care about what you are selling.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people that started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information.

3 Tools of the Sales Teaching Model – #Sales #SaaS #APAutomation

I believe you have to teach your customer how to buy from you. In this day on instant information, consumers are much more educated. Well… at least they thing they are. The information that customer get isn’t always the best. It could be a matter of which company knows how to optimize their search results on Google. Just because they are good at SEO doesn’t mean they are the best fit for the customer.

And too…

What I have found from websites, videos and company posts is a one-sided story. I don’t mean this in a negative way, but the company producing this information that people use for research, only produces information that benefits them. They won’t tell he entire story about their offering.

Reality

As much as we would like to think that we are using the internet for all of our needs, the true reality is that the world still needs sales professionals. However, the sales professional has to change because the customer is doing more up front research. That is why I have develop the teaching model of selling. The teaching model’s main theme is that customer have to be taught (by you the salesperson) how to buy. There are several tools the teaching model of selling uses to help customers learn.

Tools

Tool 1 – Demos – This is the primary tool. You would think that this isn’t any different from a traditional selling model, but the big difference and what flies in the face of old school selling is that you need to demo early and demo often. Traditional selling requires you to do a lot of fact-finding and digging for pain before you present. The teach model uses the demo to open the conversation and get people in the customer’s company on the same page. The demo is used more as an instruction tool to kick off the sales process rather than a stage in the selling process to close.

Tool 2 – Finding The Why – In previous articles I have either written or talked about finding the why. A salesperson will need to answer three questions about their offering – What, How and Why. The challenge is that most reps will know the “What” and spend all of their time on “How”. The customer is left to figuring out “Why” on their own. There are customer that can do this, but even with them they may not get all of the impact and if left to chance you have left yourself open to someone killing the idea. Now, because these are tool, the material aspect of this section is to have a calculator, spreadsheet, wizard… something that helps the client physically know “Why” they should do business with you.

Tool 3 – You – That’s right, I just called you a tool. Sorry. I mean this in the nicest way, but you are the biggest tool in the entire selling system. The key to the teaching model of selling is that as a sales professional you are trusted advisor that knows your offering, industry and the opportunity better than the customer. You have to develop you EQ as well as you IQ on what it is that you are selling. Think about it… imagine a teacher that walks into the class and says, “Hi class, I am your teacher and I don’t know anything about the subject so I thought for the next 9 weeks we will walk through a series of questions together and find out what it is we should learn.”

Finally

Embracing this approach is a big leap. It’s new and it is different from any other selling system. You will have push back from sales trainers, manager and companies leaders. The one place that will love you for it is your customers because they will get what they want, be in control of the process as well as be accountable to the outcomes of the process and they will enjoy the ride.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people that started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information.