The Secret Weapon of Salespeople Every Entrepreneur Should Steal

It’s easier to become a great salesperson than you might think

Aaron Dinin, PhD
4 min readDec 17, 2020


Image courtesy Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

I was quizzing a pre-revenue entrepreneur about customer acquisition. He was practicing his fundraising pitch with me, and he’d spent the entire time talking about his product. I wanted to know how he was going to sell it. Finally, he’d had enough of my questions.

“I’m a product guy,” he huffed. “Can’t I just tell investors I’ll hire some MBA to do the selling for me? Isn’t that what I’m raising money for, anyway? So I can hire people, I mean.”

I shook my head. “No, you can’t,” I answered. “You’re the founder. If you can’t sell your product, nobody can.”

“But I suck at talking to people,” he moaned.

“That’s your problem,” I said.

“That I suck at talking to people?” he replied. “I already know that!”

“No,” I answered. “You just told me you suck at talking to customers. But you should never be talking to customers. You should always be talking with customers.”

I’ll admit the point I was making probably seems like a tiny grammatical nitpick. Unfortunately, I encounter the problem so often from entrepreneurs that I often find myself having to highlight it. Sometimes, as entrepreneurs, we get so focused on building things for our customers that we forget our job isn’t to tell them what they need. Instead, effective conversations with customers require that we talk and listen.

The myth of the “great” salesperson

The most common misconception about effective salespeople is that they’re great at talking to people. But that’s a myth. Great salespeople aren’t necessarily great at talking to people. They’re great at listening to people.

This is the critical distinction entrepreneurs need to understand in order to get better at talking with customers. Entrepreneurs who struggle talking with customers are usually struggling because they’re focused on talking about themselves, their products, their companies, and/or whatever they’re building. But that’s not how great salespeople make sales..



Aaron Dinin, PhD

I teach entrepreneurship at Duke. Software Engineer. PhD in English. I write about the mistakes entrepreneurs make since I’ve made plenty. More @