What is the image of a sales professional today? Look at your business’s portrayal in the media. Shows like Mad Men and films like Glengarry Glen Ross have created a mental visual largely associated with sales professionals, and it’s not always a good one. You don’t necessarily want potential buyers to associate their view of you being a hard drinking, cigarette smoking, must get the sale at all costs individual. But you also don’t want your buyer to think of you as bumbling or goofy, always playing games, such as characters on The Office. The sale may be important, but what is more important is the impression you make and leave with them.
It’s a sad statistic to see, but only 13% of customers believe a sales professional can understand their needs. This figure is much too low. As sales professionals, it is imperative to understand the customer’s needs, issues and business as a whole.
In short, sales professionals need to develop business acumen, both for your own organization, and the ones you are selling to. Business acumen for sales is having the knowledge and tools necessary to fully understand a customer’s financial and strategic business drivers, credibly position products and services, and “win” at each stage of the customer’s buying journey.
A recent Forrester report finds that over 70% of buyers identify the understanding of their business as the single most important attribute they look for in a sales person. Take the time, develop the relationship that shows you care about them and want to find what will best suit them and their organization.
“Relationships should be the bi-product of engaging a customer and adding value to their business – not just talking to anyone and everyone and hoping something lands. It is about approaching the right customer and having the knowledge to help that customer’s business grow and improve.” James Killian. Chally Group.
Learn the ins and outs of their business as well as you know your own. When you understand the customer’s bottom line, you will see the need you can fill more easily and develop that positive connection that leads to a healthy relationship with future opportunities.
In a previous sales job, I had a manager that always used the phrase, “Close the sale, but if you don’t, make sure they remember you.”
If you obtain the knowledge and develop the tools to fully understand the bottom line impact of a customer’s organization and needs, you will be sure to make an impression that is lasting and achieves success every step of the way.