Salespeople with business acumen display an increased level of knowledge about their customers and their customers’ industries. Not only that, but they are able to apply that knowledge to create ‘insights’ for their customers, helping them to see things in a new light. These insights serve to differentiate the salesperson from the competition and to build credibility with the customer, cementing the salesperson’s position as trusted advisor.
With today’s buyers leaving it as late as possible in the buying cycle to contact suppliers (having already conducted a large amount of their own research), the salesperson without business acumen cannot hope to compete; with nothing new to bring to the table.
In our latest post dissecting The Anatomy Of A Successful Salesperson, we look at what salespeople can do to heighten business acumen.
The only way you can possibly hope to create those valuable ‘insights’ for your customer is to have an in-depth knowledge about them, their business and their industry sector. This will allow you to spot opportunities ahead of the competition and of your customer.
Unfortunately, though, business acumen is another one of those capabilities often mistakenly believed to be innate (“you’ve either got it or you haven’t”). Also referred to as business ‘smarts’ or business ‘sense’, all of these terms (acumen, smarts, sense) have the misfortune of helping to reinforce this misconception. But spend some time with anybody who has good business acumen and you’ll very quickly see that these people are seriously doing their research.
As well as looking at their customer’s websites, these people are using social media to connect with relevant parties, reading industry-specific blogs and they’re keeping abreast of legislation changes which might impact their customers. But most of all, they are networking. The combination of these activities ensures the salesperson is never late to the party or the last one to know.
The biggest reason we hear from salespeople as to why they’re not doing this kind of research is that they don’t have the time. Research should be an absolute priority for every salesperson. Be ultra-disciplined and put the time in your diary and be consistent. Once you’ve been doing it long enough, it will soon become habit.
2. Listen, listen, listen
Your customers (and their colleagues) are the only ones that can truly help you understand impact. Some very-well researched salespeople make the mistake of thinking that research alone makes them infallible. And it’s easy to do; when we know a lot about a subject, the temptation is to wax lyrical, but do this with your customers and you’ll come across as a ’know-it-all’ who’s not interested in what they think.
It is therefore absolutely critical that you listen to your customers.
Ask questions to determine impact – whether that be the impact of a proposed solution, or the impact of a company/legislation change. Remember to look beyond your buyer and determine the impact to all members of the Decision Making Unit and the wider business.
3. Create Insights
Having done your research and listened to your customer, you need to use all of that valuable information to create ‘insights’: areas where your products/solutions can deliver significant value for your customer in a unique way.
At Salestrong, we run sales training that focuses on insight selling and we often refer to this creation of sales insights as the “piece where the magic happens”. And the reason we use this analogy is because, as with a magic trick, creating insights is simply a case of taking a set of tangible and accessible ingredients but presenting them in a unique way that causes surprise and delight.
This unique approach is what will separate you from the competition because, unless you are lucky enough to be the sole-provider of your product/service, you are going to come up against competition. If you’re unable to differentiate yourself from that competition, the only area you’ll have left to negotiate on is price and you could soon find yourself discounting.
In conclusion, then, rather than being an innate ability, business acumen is in fact a learned skill and one that is critical to the success of a salesperson. In addition to differentiating you from your competition, business acumen builds credibility, reliability and trust with your customers.
If you’d like to find out more about how Salestrong helps our clients to create insights for their customers, call us on 01778 382733 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask us about our ‘live deal’ coaching.
Live deal coaching is where our Sales Coaches work with your salespeople in real-time on real deals, using Insights to Create, Communicate and Capture Value.