Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Todd Caponi, Founder of Sales Melon LLC., located in Palatine, IL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I speak and teach revenue organizations and their leaders about leveraging transparency and decision science to maximize their revenue capacity.
Tell us about yourself
I have long been a sales leader, but at my core, I'm a decision science nerd. Also, when cool people are doing cool things on the weekends, you might find me reading a sales or sales management book from the late 1800s or early 1900s. I had a revelation about selling that changed my life as it could only happen to a nerd - which we'll discuss a little later.
I quit my job as the Chief Revenue Officer of Chicago's fastest-growing tech company to write my first book, The Transparency Sale, and I just released my second book, The Transparent Sales Leader. I love the sales profession, hate that it consistently drags to the bottom of Gallup's annual 'trusted professions' survey, and think we have a chance to get its mojo back!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I wrote a book I honestly thought might suck - given I had never written a book before. It turned into an award winner and best-seller. Writing a book people want to read, but more importantly, making an impact on peoples' careers has got to be #1.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Uncertainty and unpredictability.
Uncertainty makes us crazy. If you need proof, just think back to the toilet paper hoarding of March of 2020. As a business owner, not being able to predict the future - ever - is the most difficult thing for me. Couple that with macro-economic uncertainty, and it's enough to drive you nuts. Buckle up - get yourself right with worst-case scenarios, and you'll be fine. At least that's what I keep telling myself.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
First, you don't need a plaid jacket and gold chains to sell. Transparency sells better than perfection. Think about it. When you buy something online, do you read reviews first? Are you one of those weirdos who read the negative reviews first? That doesn't make you a weirdo. It makes you a human being. And when selling human-to-human, your buyers are human beings, too. Lead with transparency. If you're presenting your solutions as perfect, you're making it harder for buyers to buy from you, not easier.
Second, do the homework for the buyer. Think back to high school. Your English teacher tells you that you have to do a book report on one of the classics. What did you do? Pick the most fulfilling book. Or, did you first see which ones you've read before, which has a movie made about it, which has Cliffs Notes, and which one is the most interesting? Your buyers do that, too. They're not looking for the biggest reward. They're looking for the shortest path to a tangible reward.
Third, as things tighten up economically, we as business owners tend to cast a wider net - selling to anyone who might potentially get value from what we sell. I'd suggest doing the opposite. Practice something I like to call "extreme firmographic focus." Pick an industry, company size, and maybe even geography, and focus entirely on it for short periods of time. Become an expert. That confidence is contagious. Without even realizing it, you'll become an asset and advisor to your prospects instead of someone trying to sell them something. You'll differentiate in the way you sell. It's something to always consider, especially now.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I've been blessed to have a family who supports me in doing this and a reputation where I could go get a job if I needed one. This has become my passion. And while I could make more money doing something else, I've been given likely years back to my life, a stronger relationship with my family, and my investment in aspirin is at its lowest in years. Hang in there! Your passion will prevail...
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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