Top 5 Ways Business Acumen Adds to Your Bottom Line
Acumen is described as insight, good judgment and wisdom. Sales acumen combined with business acumen is being hyper aware of trends going on in the world and connecting the trends to your product/service and solutions. The salesperson of the future is moving beyond bonding and rapport; They are professional that know how to carry on a conversation at the 'C' suite. Today's decision maker expects a professional salesperson to understand the business of business.
Below, are five principles for developing business acumen.
#1: Business acumen is knowing how to make product knowledge (a commodity in the information age) a real value to your customers and prospects. For example, a feature that results in quick response time should elicit a yawn from your customers. Been there - done that - and heard it all before.
However, when you connect quick response time in selling to Generation X and Y, you might stifle the yawn and get their attention. The macro view of quick response time is discussing how this generation has grown up with instant and text messaging. This generation also grew up with the world as their catalog. They know they have options and know they don't have to settle for average. Response time moves from product knowledge to a way of capturing a major market segment.
#2: Business acumen is getting smart about all products and services, other than what you sell. A colleague tells the story of a kitchen designer who didn't understand this concept. My colleague and husband were remodeling their kitchen. The kitchen designer was doing a great job with colors, granite and cabinets. When asked for her input on appliances, she replied, "I don't do appliances."
Hmmm...so much for being a shortcut, trusted advisor, and 'one stop shop.' These days, if you are in the kitchen business, you better know EVERYTHING about kitchens. Today's buyer doesn't have the patience or time to check out five different resources to get an answer. They refer and do repeat business based on the total customer experience.
#3: Business acumen is being in tune with your prospect's daily world and challenges. Jill Konrath, author of 'Selling to Big Companies' stresses this point to her clients. When working with clints, Jill often starts by describing her target prospect:
"He is a vice-president of sales at a Fortune 500 company. He has 60 hours of work sitting on his desk in addition t his must-do list. He is under a lot of pressure to perform and get results fast."
Based on this insight, Jill teaches clients to move the conversation quickly to a problem they can solve for the prospect followed by a quick testimonial of proof. Can you describe, in detail, your target client and their daily life? Do you know what approach or language resonates with that target?
#4: Business acumen means that you understand your prospect's customer. Who is their target? What do they want? How do they want it? What are the new demands? The successful salesperson takes the time to study their prospect's target customer.
A great example comes from the real estate world. A printing business took the time to really learn a realtor's business. This realtor targeted senior citizens who were downsizing and moving. The print rep quickly discovered the print on the real estate forms were too small for senior citizens. They had difficulty reading, thus diminishing the customer experience and satisfaction. The printer designed and produced forms with oversized print for the realtor to present and sell to this target audience. This realtor built a stream of referrals from 'raving fan' customers. This printer gained a relationship for life.
#5: Business acumen is not an option. Pay attention and see how various economic and world trends play into your product or service. The good 'old days are gone and it's going to take a while for the economy to get back to the way we were (some economists predict five to six years).
Let's take that information and see how different industries can apply to their value proposition. A leadership consultant uses this information for selling the value of creating leaders that can retain good people, even in tough times. A recruiting firm may position their offering as upgrading your team for the new economy. A marketing firm will talk about why it's important to stand out when everyone else is hunkering down. Same information - three different talking points.
Business acumen - Get it, use it, and set yourself apart from all the other salespeople who live in the silo of their business and products. Learn the business of business.