Rare is the entrepreneur who at the end, whether good or bad, hasn't said "I wish I'd sold more. "
Distribution is everything. I am in the midst of at least four deals that focus on this topic. In the successful ones the leaders sell. They understand their customers and the market the customers live in.
When it doesn't work so well, the leader either won't or doesn't sell, or doesn't think he can. They delegate to all kinds of talented people and sometimes that's second best. But it isn't the same as having the sales instinct down so well that he can taste it.
Jack Welch, certainly not an entrepreneur, was a salesman. He used to sneak out every now and then and go on sales calls with GE sales guys, often from Plastics, where he grew up at GE. He appreciates selling.
Sometimes the leader caves in to the customer. This is easy to do when the customer is big and you are small and knows you are starting out. (Smart customers ought to treat startups very well. Who won't remember that when the chips are down?) We had a very large customer who once said at a conference when asked "whether our product was worth its price" that he never paid us "a net nickel. They made money for me a lot faster than they ever sent bills," he said. I still send him a bottle of wine at Christmas, twenty years later.
Sometimes the leader caves to the sales manager he's hired. Whether it's price, terms, or features, without understanding all of the dynamics of what is going on, this can be pretty bad,too.
Good selling is creative. It listens to needs and offers honest solutions, alternatives, insights, compromises. Then it makes sure it delivers.
My Dad sold for GE. He never missed being at a construction site to make sure his deliveries (of major appliances) were right. He designed his own cabinet layouts and helped developers with all kinds of products he didn't sell directly. None of those things were in his job description. And when he retired he was doing so much volume they replaced him with three salespeople. Make sure you deliver.
In a venture, the leader is ultimately the guy who can deliver. If the customer isn't buying from/talking to him, it's an obvious opportunity for the competitor to gain a foothold.
Go sell something and make your customer successful.