What distinguishes sales leaders from regular reps? Why do certain salespeople have a better track record of closing deals? And how do certain reps rocket their professional development? The answer is straightforward: Business Acumen.
It’s a phrase that’s frequently used in boardrooms and blog posts, but in this RisePath post, we shall explain what it is, why it’s crucial, and how you can build it.
What is Business Acumen?
The capacity to use experience, knowledge, perspective, and awareness to arrive at wise business decisions is known as business acumen. It involves exercising sound judgement and having the mental flexibility to take a comprehensive, long-term perspective on organisational demands.
Beyond just “having a mind for business,” business acumen refers to a strategic vision that gives businesses an advantage. The capacity to use experience, knowledge, perspective, and awareness to make wise business judgments is the essence of business acumen.
Gaining this capacity improves your judgement and enables you to see organisational demands holistically over the long run.
Simply put, having business acumen is making decisions that will not only be advantageous to your firm now but also in the coming months or even years. It indicates that you are capable of employing strategies to take advantage of a linked environment for both present-day and long-term success.
Why Is Business Acumen Important for Salespeople?
You become a better internal collaborator as a result
The “lone-gunslinger” paradigm of sales is ineffective in today’s hyper-connected society. Salespeople must operate inside the framework of their entire firm. In other words, you must perform your duties well today while thinking about how to advance your organisation in the future.
For instance, if you consistently provide steep discounts to win new clients, you might reach your sales goal and wow your manager, but it puts a strain on your finance team.
Make sure your actions have a favourable effect on and assist your colleagues. Both you and the company benefit greatly from it.
It aids in your comprehension of difficult prospect circumstances
Your customers can go to your website to discover more about the features of your products, your service offerings, and the advantages it offers businesses. They require your direction and aid. Thus, it is crucial for salespeople to be consultative as technology permeates more aspects of the selling process.
You must comprehend your prospect’s company from their point of view in order to be consultative. You must comprehend how it alleviates the problems experienced by everyone involved in the purchasing selection.
Ask questions about the workplace environment, impending projects, and financial constraints to gain a complete picture of any obstacles your champion may face.
It teaches you to think outside of block-and-tackle situations
A lot of salespeople approach customers in a “block-and-tackle” manner. They do a decent job of reacting and addressing daily chores and obstacles, but they find it difficult to see or take action outside the immediate confines of their profession.
Find out what your customer service team is already doing to address this objection and add your own ideas and strategies to the discussion if you frequently encounter the rebuttal, “You’ve said your customer service team responds to client issues within three days, but we’re really looking for a company offering same-day issue resolution.”
Make sure to approach this in a constructive, cooperative manner. Your good ideas will be worth very little if you’re preoccupied with upsetting other departments since you’ll gain adversaries rather than allies.
Skills in Business Acumen
There are specific skills to hone and organisational knowledge to master in order to properly comprehend company difficulties and prospects. Assessment, vision and discipline, emotional intelligence, experience, and learning organisational procedures are five factors that might help improve business acumen.
You should be able to quickly recognise the variables at play in a given business situation and how they relate to one another.
As an illustration, your first instinct might be to address how a high client attrition rate will influence you and your commission. That’s a start, but you should also note when churn spiked and any possible causes.
Has the pricing structure or range of products/services at your organisation recently changed? Are you losing the proper kinds of clients? Has the makeup of your clientele changed? Is there a mismatch between what customers expect and what really happens?
Analyze these circumstances and suggest ways to proceed. Do you want to go one step further? Before they become a problem, recognise the company’s challenges and find solutions.
2. Long-term thinking and focus
Think beyond quarterly statistics and daily outreach targets. Aim to align your actions and behaviours with the annual and long-term goals of your firm.
Align your objectives if your business’s objective is to draw in a more selective, high-end clientele.
Find a mentor with knowledge in selling to high-end clients, study three books about enterprise sales, and go out for coffee with a member of the leadership of your sales organisation to better grasp the company’s choice. Set goals for yourself and a deadline, then stick to them.
3. Emotional quotient
Meeting your requirements and the demands of your customers, boss, and organisation are all parts of having business acumen. Find out how you can make their job easier if your sales organisation includes an administrative assistant that assists with paperwork, HR, or scheduling.
Don’t ungratefully shovel work their way or disregard their cries for help. Engage with administrative employees frequently, learn about their objectives, and assist them in achieving those objectives.
Likewise, be aware that the administrative teams at your prospects’ companies frequently wield considerable power. You’ll see an increase in your professional relationships and career chances if you adopt a giving attitude toward both clients and coworkers.
There’s more to experience than just, well, experiencing stuff. It’s about taking the lessons you gain from each event and applying them to your job in order to advance.
If you fail, consider what you learnt from it and why. Take the 50,000-foot perspective, and allow it to influence the future business decisions you make.
Missed your monthly quota? Whining never made a salesperson popular with management. Instead, make a note of what occurred, why it occurred, what needs to be done to make sure it doesn’t happen again, and what you plan to do next. Inform your sales manager of this analysis, and wow them with your thoughtfulness.
5. Studying organisational methods
Business acumen is the ability of a salesperson to comprehend the procedures that keep a company running, the laws that control them, and the things they can do to affect those processes.
You can get dissatisfied if your sales team decides to alter its emphasis from medium-sized businesses to luring enterprise-level customers.
Take a step back, engage with sales leadership to understand the decision, and establish a plan for how you’ll influence those business decisions for the better rather than stressing about how you’ll meet quota.
Ways to Improve Your Business Acumen
1. Be mindful.
It’s critical that salesmen become situationally aware. Pay attention to how things operate at your organisation rather than just focusing on your work and keeping your head down. What trends can you see? What problems do you and your coworkers frequently encounter? Your ability to recognise these problems and provide solutions will make you stand out.
Is your firm frequently losing clients to a rival because you lack their integration? Contact the providers of this integration and arrange a collaboration. Keep an eye out for business problems and be the first to offer a solution.
2. Locate a mentor.
Expecting one coach to be proficient in everything is unrealistic. Instead, choose a few mentors, each an authority in a distinct field.
Do you know a salesperson whose career you’d like to imitate? Request their guidance on the next steps in your career. Is there a person in your company that successfully closes business deals? Request their assistance in helping you sell. Obtain helpful mentors all around you to advance your profession in numerous areas simultaneously.
3. Network outside of the sales division.
There will be moments when you need to seek the counsel and assistance of professionals in order to make wise judgments. Having contacts in each of these fields—from marketing and accounting to HR and legal—will be instructive and useful when you require their knowledge.
Working with a client who is dealing with challenging marketing issues? Consider your prospect’s circumstances from a wider viewpoint than just the sale and inquire with your outside marketing contact. You will undoubtedly stand out from your rivals if you offer construction ideas and solutions to the table.
A salesperson won’t advance if they don’t read, listen to podcasts, or read articles about their sector. Your field’s trends, influencers, and education should be always on your mind.
However, don’t restrict yourself to sales collateral. Read literature about different aspects of psychology, economics, or business. Your work may benefit just as much from the lessons you take away from these topics as from the newest business book. Keep learning, and your career will continue to advance.
5. Discover from your customers.
Count on your connections with clients to learn more about how the business is run. They are well-versed in their industry and frequently willing to share information with you. You can use the following inquiries to open the conversation:
- How do you locate applicants that are competent to work in department X?
- What are the main components of your outstanding customer service?
- How does your company modify its financial plan in the event of budgetary issues?
- Do you have any specific qualities you look for in a manager or leader at your business?
Not only will you increase your business acumen, but you’ll also be enhancing your relationship with the client by developing rapport.
6. Research various management philosophies.
Understanding the management procedures that the company uses will help you better understand how it operates. Every organisation has a different management style. There are multiple techniques management can use when presented with a business dilemma, and you’ll learn about them all.
Look more closely at how various management philosophies approach organising, making decisions, and evaluating performance; then consider which philosophies might be most effective for your company and sales force.
7. Recognize your decision-making process and mental process.
How do you evaluate circumstances? What approach do you usually use to solve issues? It will be easier for you to recognise your strengths and shortcomings in critical thinking and reasoning if you have a clear understanding of how you approach problems, whether they are in business or on a personal level.
Are you, for instance, self-reflective when faced with a challenge? Or do you rapidly assess the situation and make a decision? Check to see if your communication style works well with others who may choose and identify solutions in a different way. You’ll gain a greater grasp of interpersonal interactions, including those with coworkers and potential clients, by reflecting on your own thought process.
The end product of diligence, commitment, and tenacity is business acumen. It is the result of having guts, being dependable, and putting in the effort. It is a result of self-aware activity, and anyone who is prepared to put in the effort can obtain it.
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