According to the Forrester research of 2014, over 70% of buyers have only one essential request to a salesperson they’re contacting with – an understanding of their business. And this is, in fact, lies in the basis of a business acumen meaning.
There exist tens of definitions of acumen, as well as associated business, financial & sales acumen. Speaking of the latter, we would define it as the ability to make sales based on a holistic picture of a business of your company & the company of your client, wisely combining perspective, knowledge, experience & awareness. These must be applied to the businesses of a seller & a buyer, as well as to everything concerning the subject of sales – a product or service.
What is business acumen?
When you’re stepping beyond simply sales, aiming at fulfilling figures of your monthly plan no matter what, you’re starting to step out of the box, closer to business acumen. For instance, you might promise your customers amazing client service, hefty price discounts, or bundles with other products, which don’t originally come that way. But, doing so without agreeing with profile departments, puts them in a tough position when it comes to delivering those promises (which also might not always be possible). Thus, you might fulfill your plan but it’ll neither bring long-term revenue to your company nor contribute to the formation of lasting & reliable customer relations (which might be disappointed because of the impossibility to be delivered according to the promises – your promises).
A much better approach – which is exactly sales acumen – would be to sell having in mind these factors:
- How well you know your client’s needs & cater to them?
- What business advantages for your company you create with your sales in all terms: short, mid & long?
- How can you make more sales by satisfying client needs better? For instance, what about the improvement of a product or some of its qualities? Or maybe, it is customer relationship processes that need to be enhanced? Is your product capable of completely addressing the pains of your customer?
- What strategic look do you adopt in your everyday work?
If to put it differently, then a definition of business acumen would be as such: how your sale decisions help benefit your entire company from the perspective point of view? In months & years?
What are business acumen skills & how to develop them?
When you apply business acumen, you become a better collaborator inside of your company. What you learn from your client during sales can be translated into the improvement of the product or service you sell. Also, it might contribute to the improvement of some processes inside your company, which are connected to producing merchandise and/or adopting decisions about its sales, servicing, defining its parameters, post-service issues & other things. If you can affect those things, you can become an opinion leader in your company, which is a direct way to promotion in salary & job position.
But if you don’t have business acumen – don’t get disappointed. There are skills, which you can boost:
- Try to understand the pains of your customers. Or do it better
- Assess your current position & sales & think about how you can improve
- Learn the discipline, hard work & long-term vision
- Train emotional intelligence
- Gain more experience in your direct area of responsibility & adjacent areas
- Learn the processes of your organization. Define & politely offer their improvement. Along with that, don’t be the one who demands & quarrels with departments – otherwise, even the best of your offers won’t be heard because of a simple boycott
- Pay attention to your working environment, company’s market situation, legal field & its changes & changes to the businesses of your customers
- Find a mentor, who can teach you the best practices in the area
- Network beyond your sales dept & try to embrace the whole picture
- Study & listen
- Understand the decision-making process & try to play a larger role within it so as to become more expert.