Picture this – employees at your company are struggling to be engaged in their work. They don’t feel like their contributions make any sort of difference, so they just don’t care about much of anything. You feel like you have a team of zombies clocking in and clocking out, and they’re so disconnected from the other moving pieces of the company, that they have no clue if the business decisions they are making are actually sound or not, but then again, so what? They don’t care. Now picture this– your job is to fix the problem, but you have no clue how to make it happen.
You’re not alone if this is all too easy to picture. In fact, in their annual employee engagement survey this year, Gallup reported that just about seven out of 10 workers are either not engaged, or are actively disengaged in their work. That’s a pretty staggering statistic, and what’s more, companies with poor employee engagement tend to have lower earnings per share. Yikes! So your engagement problem, could actually become an engagement apocalypse if left unaddressed.
Like many before you, you’ve probably tried lots of things to solve this problem. You’ve probably tried implementing incentives and bonuses to help employees feel valued. You’ve probably incorporated a professional development training strategy and brought in motivational speakers to teach skills like communication, leadership, assertiveness and teamwork. You may have even decided to hold focus groups or allow for more convenient and casual working conditions. Heck, you may have even started stocking the company kitchen with all-you-can-eat baked goodies to help employees feel more valued.
MEDDIC: Who doesn’t love a good sales acronym? Those who use MEDDIC like it because it helps sales teams qualify prospects, identify key stakeholders and deliver consistent messages. Or in other words, MEDDIC is all about sharing a common language to help sellers navigate and close complex deals. Another language that we’d argue is even more important to understand is the language of business. MEDDIC sellers who also speak the language of business can have the right conversations at the right time, with the person who will have the most impact on the purchasing decision.
Challenger Sale: The Challenger sale focuses on being prescriptive, or ‘challenging’ the buyer by mapping out the customer journey, and actively teaching clients how to avoid common business challenges within their industry. For this methodology to be successful, the salesperson must do a lot of research and really understand the company he or she is working with. A solid foundation in business acumen makes all the difference here, as it gives the sales leader a blueprint for understanding their customers’ industries, and what those common business challenges are. That way, their recommendations become more targeted and relevant.
Sandler Selling System: The Sandler Selling System focuses heavily on understanding people and how and why they make purchasing decisions. Sandler sellers with a foundation in business acumen don’t make the mistake of diving so far into the psychology of the person they are selling to, they fail to dive into the reasons the company is making the purchase. Instead, Sandler sellers with business acumen understand what success looks like, and how the individual’s motivations for the purchase are influenced by the company’s needs, and vice versa.
Our firm’s research (‘Seeing the Big Picture,’ Greenleaf, 2012) has found that only one out of 10 understand the key business metrics that are important to their customers. That means that 90% lack the business acumen to hang with executives. What’s more, according to the Association for Talent Development companies spend about $20 billion on sales training each year, but the real question is, is that investment paying off? The special sauce may make a Big Mac® hamburger unique, but it’ll never pass as a hamburger without the foundation (the meat).
That’s why business acumen training is an absolute must for sales groups. When sales leaders possess business acumen, they pay attention to how their customers’ businesses make and use money, and see the big picture of their customers’ business challenges without losing sight of the details of the sale. This allows them to communicate within the context of those challenges as they utilize the organization’s sales methodology to develop lasting business partnerships, and win more sales.