In the old way of selling, one trademark of great salespeople was someone who “knows his/her stuff”. These sales superstars really impressed customers with their knowledge about what they were selling, and everything around that. High-quality demonstrations on how their solutions were different from the competition often persuaded the customer to switch suppliers, especially if the price was right. Sure, presentation skills, persuasion skills, and storytelling are still sales acumen capabilities that can make you stand out from your competitor sales reps. They may not get the customer’s attention to explore a change though. Business acumen does.
Selling with the Buyer’s perspective makes you realize that the attention-getter is not about you, your solution or your company, but instead how well you connect with the business challenges of your customer. To be successful now in sales, you need to deliver a different value your customers seek. The role of value creation requires a new set of skills! You need to have a good general understanding of business principles. You need to understand the language of strategy versus operations. How businesses operate. How businesses make money. And what comes with it to stay ahead of the competition. You need to understand how you can help customers deliver against their budgets and profit targets, while still keeping their staff happy and engaged.
You need to be able to show how a change can positively impact a company’s growth and benefit its bottom line. The difference that you make and the ideas you come up with need to be strategic. Then you will get the customer’s full attention.
Business acumen supersedes Sales Acumen, also from the Buyer’s point of view. Think about this every time you meet with stakeholders of existing or potential customers. They may just come out of a meeting where they are challenged to come up with the next growth plan, or finding cost savings. Be as early as possible in their Buying Process. or even better, kick-start their buying process through your ideas, your insights and views on how you can help with their business challenges.
You still need to equip yourself with the best Sales Acumen to use these later in the Buying process. But to get the customer or prospect’s attention it is the Business Acumen skills that will make you stand out from the rest.
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