Any climber worth his salt knows there are times when going straight up to the summit is not an option. Evaluating the trajectory, those who know the ropes understand that certain formations require moving laterally, and even down, before gaining any more headway. Moving too quickly or without regard for what comes next are mistakes that can put any ascent into dangerous territory.
“Remember, don’t look down … whoops, too late.”
Those kind of missteps aren’t very common, which is proven by statistics that show extreme sports like recreational climbing and whitewater rafting are generally safe by comparison. But what are sales leaders to make of statistics that show towering sums of money spent on training each year without confirmation that it works?
The figures are positively intimidating: more than one trillion dollars is spent each year on sales training, and yet, independent research indicates that only 13 percent of customers believe sales people have a firm grasp on what their businesses need at any given time. More distressingly, up to 95 percent share the same concern that the profession has become overrun by idle talk and empty promises.
That’s a pretty big mountain to overcome.
From our vantage point, we see the challenge as a shortfall in business acumen. The function of effective selling is now dependent on being able to make value comparisons, and using tools that measure investment allocation, return-on-investment and return-on-equity. As a result, the selling function has gradually transformed from a people-oriented job into a business-oriented job—requiring both financial literacy and the ability to interpret how those key numbers are likely to impact the future.
It’s not something that comes naturally, but it can be taught. And that’s good news for organizations willing to make the investment. According to a recent Forrester report, more than 70 percent of buyers cite “understanding of their business” as the single most important attribute they look for in sales people.
Seems like a logical place to start to us.
C-level executives are more likely to work with salespeople who can credibly position products that represent a “win” at each stage of the buying journey—something that’s carried up much easier with business acumen than without. Still, it’s important to remember that customers really aren’t buying products so much as there are working to solve the ‘pain points’ in their organizations.
That kind of selling is possible only when salespeople speak from the intersection of where their interests meet those of their customers. If sales reps only learn to recite the pitch, they will likely do very little to persuade.
We get it. That’s why sales leaders partner with us.
Now learn more about how important business acumen training is for your sales team by downloading our eGuide below.