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Upgrading your sales team’s business acumen

There’s a growing feeling among sales organizations that their team members need to upgrade their skills and processes to better meet Business to Business (B2B) buyer expectations, as emphasized in Tony Zambito’s blog. B2B sales pros now find themselves on the defensive against newly empowered buyers and the past use of traditional sales processes and strategies are no longer working.

B2B sales professionals need to take a clear-headed look at the evolution of today’s buyers and tailor their solutions more toward a buyer’s perspective. They need to rethink strategies and methods to make the sale and become more acquainted with the buyer’s industry challenges. It’s no longer about ‘selling to,’ it’s about ‘partnering with.’ Moving from vendor to partner is not an easy challenge here are some thoughts on ways to engage today’s buyer.

Face-to-face interaction

Sales people place a high priority on the power of face-to-face human interaction. While digital marketing’s ability to connect business pros in meaningful interactions is getting more hype and headlines, more key sales people still believe that the human element and relationship building will power more successful deals over the long term.

A recent Gartner survey of B2B sales professionals found that more than half of the respondents (56 percent) ranked direct, face-to-face interaction as having the highest priority. Another 42 percent considered this direct form of business meeting to be medium importance. That’s nearly the full amount of respondents polled in the survey. Because of this emphasis on direct interaction, it’s become more important in the B2B sales cycle to find out with whom the sales people are interacting.

Staying in a comfort zone of technical experts is concerning for if sales professionals want to speed up deal cycles, grow wallet share and expand sale opportunities with their customers conversations need to be elevated to a business decision maker. Go to your customer instead of waiting for them to come to you. Intuit even offers mobile accounting software so you can keep your customer in the financial loop and close a deal on the spot. Moving the conversation higher requires sales professionals to grow their business acumen so they can speak the language of their designated buyer- that of business and finance.

Building business acumen

How do you build business acumen? The charismatic and relationship builders might be among your top sales talent, yet they may face difficulties in understanding certain business insights and crucial business interactions that are the interest of business decision makers. Here’s advice on how sales professionals can add value to their customer inactions:

Go beyond the presentation: When buyers are ready to hear more than just your standard pitch, going above and beyond your normal presentation can help deepen engagement. Buyers will be ready to hear how your product or service will catapult their business ahead. Focus on demonstrating how your solution will impact their business performance in relation to their business goals.

Deliver what customers want: Salespeople need to become more knowledgeable about the customer buying process and then find ways to bring forth key information that’s a distinct benefit to the buyer. Some of the best sales reps find ways to increase touch points with key people along the sales and buying process. Selling happens when the sales pro becomes a partner and conduit, developing trust, and laying seeds for a long-standing partnership. Doing your due-diligence before meeting with a customer and understanding their business is one of the best ways to start off. Make sure you are prepared to speak about your customer current situation, business objectives and the industry environment.

Arthur Davis
Arthur mentors students regarding career and life choices. He loves to write about motivational speakers.

Occasional Contributors

In addition to our regular guest bloggers, Inside Internal Controls blog published by First Reference, provides occasional guest post opportunities from various subject matter experts on the topics of risk management and best practices in finance and accounting, information technology, environmental issues, corporate governance, sales/marketing and operations, not-for-profits and business related issues in Canada. If you are a subject matter expert and would like to become an occasional blogger, please contact Yosie Saint-Cyr at If you liked this post and would like to subscribe to Inside Internal Controls blog click here.

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