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  • Writer's pictureAcumen Learning

The Benefits of Business Acumen for Sales

Sales Misses the Mark

Forester created a study a few years ago where they discovered that eight out of 10 executive buyers say sales meetings are a waste of time. In fact, where sales reps graded their own meeting preparedness as a "B," C-suite buyers rated them as an "F"! And executives' complaints came down really to one issue: salespeople don't know their businesses. Executives often complained about simple stuff like, "I'm publicly traded. They should know my business. Why are they coming and asking me what my business is?" Or they'll say, "What's my biggest challenge? A lot of that is out in the public arena. They can find that information. What I need is I need somebody who can come in, understand my business as well as I or as close as well as I can, and then help me see how their products or service can drive towards it." And that's what business acumen allows us to do.

Become a Business Expert that Sells

It helps a salesperson move from a sales expert — or product or service expert — to a business expert who happens to sell. Acumen Learning is not a methodology company, we're not teaching sales methodology, we're not teaching sales platforms or technology. We're taking sales leaders who understand their products very well and help them understand the business of the companies they're selling into. So they can go to their customer, understand their business, and articulate how a partnership with their company will drive their customer's success. That's the differentiator.

Once they understand their customers, they can help provide solutions that move the needle on what the organization is doing.

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Business Acumen Training Makes a Difference

Companies spend millions — if not billions — of dollars training their salespeople. In fact, many organizations will have a lot more money available for the sales organization because in the end, if they can sell more, it drives their top line and drives greater revenue, sales, etc. for the organization. Naturally, there are all sorts of training out there around sales. Training on methodology, training around tools like CRMs, and others that help track their customers. But I would say Acumen Learning is really focused on helping employees understand their customers better and answer the question: How do I really get to know what they're focused on?

Being great at business acumen takes more than a one-time event — it's a skill that must be continually built. For example, earnings calls are an excellent tool for staying up-to-date on company strategy. Our clients love that every quarter we come back to do earnings call debriefs to reassess the strategic focus of their customers. We look at what clients are talking about, what they're driving towards, and then gain the expertise to say, "let me tell you how my product or how my service will get to increase profitability. Let me show you how it will reduce your cost."

What Your Executives Want you to Know:

When you get sold something as a business leader, it can feel very transactional. People call you up saying, "Hey I want to tell you about my latest and greatest software application or my latest and greatest training solution." In the end, the real question for those that are being sold to is, "How are you going to help me be more successful? How are you going to help me solve the problems I'm dealing with? How do you help me drive results?" If you can articulate that case, that's when you go from an "F" to an "A". No longer are you a sales individual, you're a trusted partner. You're part of your client's team. I think that's really what continued training around how to understand your customers does.

How Business Acumen Impacts Sales:

Just think of the last couple of years between the pandemic, supply chain issues, war, all these things that impact what we can do as a business. Boy, if you can understand your customers and how they're struggling and then provide them with solutions, that's the holy grail of sales training.

How to Win Sales with Business Acumen:

We love passionate and enthusiastic salespeople! But we've all been on a call when the salesperson is so amped to share their products or services, that they forget to really focus on your company's needs.

Sometimes, when we’re embedded in our product, we jump right in and have to explain all the great things about it — what it can do, how it is beneficial — without actually knowing the needs and struggles of our customers. And I really don’t blame you! You sell great things!

However, I think that is the number one problem that salespeople run into and business acumen help solve.

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