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A Lack of Business Acumen on Both Sides

Salespeople need to be good business people. Why? Because business acumen is the new sales acumen.

You don’t create value by overcoming objections but by resolving concerns. You don’t create value by pitching features and benefits unless they are finely crafted pieces of your seriously focused value proposition. Now, you create value by helping people further their business goals. You need business acumen to do so.

Business acumen can be a real challenge for new salespeople, and it’s especially challenging for young salespeople. But salespeople aren’t the only one to suffer from this challenge.

If we are being honest, we in sales haven’t done a good job teaching, training, coaching, an developing business acumen in the sales force. We mostly just wait for the salesperson to develop it through experience. But the customers we call haven’t done much better helping their team develop business acumen either, even with people who are responsible for financial results.

The Other Side of the Table

One of the challenges you sometimes face is that some contacts within your dream client may not have the business acumen to really understand your value proposition. You may have the ability to create more value than your competitors, but the person sitting on the other side of the table may not have the business acumen to understand the difference. They may struggle to understand how a greater investment produces a greater result.

Look at this post about the mistake of not engaging all the necessary stakeholders as early as possible. You may need a different stakeholder to help sell your case for a greater investment, someone with the business acumen and the influence within their own company. You might also need to spend more time sharing information and teaching your contact how to understand your value proposition and the necessary investment.

You might also benefit from having them teach you what they know about how their business works, too.

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  • Chris O’Byrne

    As you mentioned in your podcast, business acumen is difficult to teach. Do you know of any books or blogs that tackle this?

    • Mike Kunkle

      Chris, read Financial Intelligence first, then Bottom-line Selling.

      • Chris O’Byrne

        Thank you, Mike; I appreciate your help. I’ve heard of the first book and had thought about buying it; you’ve now convinced me. The second looks equally useful.

      • Mike Kunkle

        Glad to help, Chris. Let me know what you think, after reading them.

  • Ryan D’Lima

    Great article! Very true. Something I’ve noticed as a consultant, BDM & Director. This is present at all levels and teaching people a new concept/methodology/business model/value proposition requires continuous education, understanding and managing change management. To help ease this process being viewed as an industry expert and gaining the respect of your client greatly aids this process.

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