5 Tips on Leveraging Business and Financial Acumen Skills in the Strategic Selling Process
It’s a Sales Professional’s best dream and worst nightmare come true all in the same phone call.
For months you have been trying to initiate a dialogue with a key sales prospect and then one day, at the most inopportune time, your phone rings and it’s that prospect!
“Hello, I know we haven’t spoken, but I’ve received your calls and emails. I have an important question. Can you tell me how your product can really impact our business performance by increasing revenue, reducing our COGS, improving our margins, and positively impacting our working capital? You have called me 20 times trying to sell me something, so now I have a need. What can you do to help?”
For Sales Professionals without business and financial acumen skills the next 30 seconds could be the end of the relationship and any potential opportunity to sell this customer or the account. So what do you do? How do your respond? What are your short-term and long-term sales goals and objectives? Here are 5 tips for responding and having a great financial acumen skills and business dialogue with a sales prospect who is focused on how your value and products can impact the customer’s business and financial results.
1) Engage in business ecosystem questions
The first thing that you want to do after some rapport building is engage in a dialogue about big picture issues. “Thank you for calling, I will be happy to share my perspectives and ideas with you. To help me help you, I have a couple of questions that can give me a general sense of the business ecosystem you are working in. I of course follow your company in the business news every day and I see that things have been very volatile and uncertain. Are there other things going on in your business ecosystem other than what’s in the news? Changes in customer requirements? New competitors? New regulations? New people? Anything that you can share?
By starting at this macro level, you are developing the relationship by establishing credibility and understanding some of the drivers for the call. Be careful not to spend too much time here as the prospect may want to jump right to the end too quickly.
2) Understand the current state
The next step is to understand the current state. If you have earned the right in step one, now you can get into some of the business specifics. “Can you share with me the reason for your call? What’s happening in your world that has prompted your questions? Please feel free to go into the details, I have time if you do.”
Your goal is to quickly get to the point and start to understand the business drivers and real reasons for the call.
“Our business is floundering. We’ve got to do something. Our revenues are flat, our margins are shrinking, and I’m sitting on a ton of inventory because nobody is buying our products. Your company says it fixes problems like this so tell me how you do it.”
3) Ask about the future state
Most sales professionals without great Business and Financial Acumen skills as the foundation for their strategic selling approach would make a mistake here and jump in with solutions.
Take a little more time to better understand the issues by getting to the future state. “What are you trying to achieve? What does the future look like for you?
By doing this, you have a better sense of what the prospect is looking for and how you might be able to get there.
4) Ask about specific financial goals and objectives
The next step is critical. You have to follow-up your understanding of the future state with questions about specific financial goals and objectives in the prospects terms. You need to probe and be specific about the prospects’ overall business strategy, revenue targets, the margin benchmarks, the margin goals, the profit goals, and the cash flow goals.
These questions develop more credibility and trust, but more importantly the prospects answers are the only way that you can begin to think about the solutions that will help the prospect get to where they want to go from a business results perspective.
5) Position your solutions at the high level and share specifically how they impact the current and future state financial goals and performance
The final part of this process is positioning your solutions so help the prospect achieve the specific goals and objectives you uncovered; not the technical or features of your product! When a prospect is asking for business and financial impact, give them business impact and provide the details and path forward to get there.