The Business Acumen Gap

How do we cross the chasm of knowledge, the enormous knowledge gap that exists in the sales arena? How do we help our sales people gain the knowledge necessary to have the business acumen their customers need them to have?

If you’re in a leadership role or a management role, you need to understand the real disadvantage many companies face. Most sales organizations have the majority of their people working from home, meaning that they’re not rubbing up against each other, and they miss the day to day conversations that help the inexperienced learn from the experienced within your business.

If that describes your company, you need to create the scenarios that will provide the opportunity for your people to gain business acumen. You need to let people without experience spend time with people who have the experience. They have to go out on calls, and, in the beginning, become mimics of the experienced people. Most good sales people start out mimicking what experienced sales people say.

If you’re a new rep in a new industry, it is your responsibility to go on calls with more experienced people. Spend time with people who have experience you lack. Make a list of the questions they ask in their calls, and find out why they ask them. Write it down.

When the customer says something, write that down. Then, when you leave the call, you need to interrogate the experienced rep. Ask them why they asked what they asked. Ask them what the client was trying to get at, what they were trying to get you to talk about. You need to enter every call with the mindset of “I’m here to be educated.” You will learn really fast if that is the approach you take.

You also need to ask questions of your clients. Say to them “Help me understand your business.” People who care deeply about their business and what they’re doing love that question. They’re happy to teach you. They will explain everything to you because they want a partner who cares enough to learn their business. You can get smart much faster. You can bend the learning curve much more steeply in your direction and make it super fast if you go into it with that intention.

Photo credit: Kathrin & Stefan Solitude via photopin (license)

Filed under: Business Acumen

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