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Question:  I have developed a unique software package that will be a hit if I can just find a way to convince my clients of its value to their operation.  However, sales and marketing are not my strong suits. What can you suggest?

Answer:  It was Thomas Watson, Sr. who coined the phrase “Nothing happens until a sale is made.” He was president of International Business Machines (IBM) from 1914 to 1956.

While your software product may be unique, your problems with sales and marketing are not. If you are a small business owner you must wear many hats. In my capacity as a SCORE business counselor, I have met many entrepreneurs who have wonderful ideas, but lack the confidence to effectively promote the product or service.

We all have certain strengths and weaknesses. You sound like one who is very  detail oriented and highly skilled in the field of technology. By your own admission you are less confident in your ability to develop a viable marketing plan and unsure how best to present the concept to a potential customer.

While some people have a natural aptitude for sales, it is not impossible for those who do not to develop the techniques and skill sets necessary to ensure success. If you want to succeed you need to set your mind to learning and developing the necessary skills. There are scores of articles written on the subject and many online webinars available for free or at a nominal cost.

Also, there is no greater teacher than the lessons learned through trial and error. After each unsuccessful sales call, critique yourself to determine what you could have said or done differently that may have resulted in a positive outcome.

When I first started out in the insurance business many years ago, I was quite self-conscious about my youthful appearance and worried that I would not be taken seriously. A mentor suggested I join a local Toastmasters Club, an organization dedicated to developing confidence with public speaking. It was a turning point in my sales career.

The keys to becoming a successful sales person are to know your product, believe in your product, and have faith that your product will be of benefit to others. If this is true in your case, your sincerity and passion will be evident to your client.

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Gray Poehler is a volunteer with SCORE Naples. Business counseling on this and other business matters is available, without charge, from the Naples Chapter of SCORE. Call (239) 430-0081 or visit . To access information for local SCORE workshops go to

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