Three reasons why salespeople with business acumen thrive

In the dynamic realm of business, possessing a highly skilled sales team is of paramount importance. However, mastering sales techniques is just the tip of the iceberg. Having business acumen, that is, an understanding of the broader business landscape, economic trends, and market intricacies, sets exceptional salespeople apart. Simply put business acumen is business sense; others call it commercial skills. Sales people with business sense confidently articulate their value proposition and easily tune into ‘Executive FM. In addition, because they recognize the interconnectedness of different functions and how each contributes to the overall success of the company. they happily sell to back office. Besides these, let’s explore three other reasons why salespeople with business acumen are a tremendous asset to any organization, accompanied by practical examples showcasing their profound impact.

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Understanding the Bigger Picture

Sales professionals equipped with business acumen grasp the broader context in which they operate. They understand how their role aligns with the company’s objectives, strategies, and overall success. They are not just selling the product to close.  No, they are building a market or whatever outcome it is their employer seeks to achieve through the sale. So, they don’t just sell the bank account for the sake of meeting targets. No. That B2C sale has a bigger purpose. They sell to staff of a large employer knowing that it not only optimizes their time, more importantly it’s an investment they are making into building a critical mass to whom a B2B sale can then happen; for instance, a staff car loan scheme.

Or, as Francis (RIP) did, when selling for a hospital, negotiating a contract with the large employer (think Kenya Airways or Kenya Ports Authority) to have an in-plant at their premises.  Meanwhile, his colleagues were busy selling to HR across many companies to, “Sign a contract for your staff to be coming to our hospital when sick.”  This understanding of business sales people with business acumen to align their strategies with the company’s vision and operate with a more focused and purpose-driven approach.

salespeople with business acumen

Enhancing Decision-Making Skills As Salespeople With Business Acumen Do

“For you, I make 200 only.”(sic) So the dukawalla told you in anticipation of you asking for a negotiation.  Business acumen equips salespeople to make informed decisions swiftly. They possess analytical skills to assess situations, evaluate alternatives, and choose the most effective course of action. That’s why this shrewd used car sales man, sensing an oncoming stalemate in negotiation, will not hesitate to make a call to the owner to ask for a reduction in price. On the surface, that looks normal. Well, that’s until you realize the call was a fake. In fact, his phone was in airplane mode. It was all a show. To make the buyer feel that he is on his side. And it works.

Just like the fuming customer that asks to see the manager over an issue that can be easily resolved by the customer service agent. Being shrewd the agent, goes into the back office and comes with the manager to whom the customer ventilates and leaves. Yes, you guessed that right. That wasn’t the manager-just a peer playing the part. Such thinking on one’s feet greatly enhances decision making skills.  

Or, the med-rep who does not stand in line with the rest but instead, knowing that route is flooded with competition, engages with doctors in their ward rounds or, as one used to, detailing at night! In effect, the med-rep creates favourable win win terms of negotiation. Here’s another example. Irritating, as it sometimes can be, being ‘sold’ to another matatu because the one you boarded wasn’t quite going in your direction but the tout saw the opportunity to make an extra shilling and still ensure you got to your destination.

Nurturing Long-Term Client Relationships

Salespeople with business acumen focus not only on closing sales but also on building long-term client relationships. They recognize that nurturing relationships and fostering trust can lead to repeat business and referrals, contributing to theirs and their organization’s sustained growth. For example, a financial advisor (or insurance agent) with strong business acumen doesn’t just sell products to clients but provides ongoing financial advice, building a long-term relationship based on trust and value.

And the one selling on-site software solutions proactively pivots to selling cloud-based solutions as they recognize the growing market demand for remote accessibility and cost efficiency. And he knows the importance of the customer hearing it first from him. Than him wondering, “You mean you knew about cloud based solutions all this while and didn’t tell me because you are making more money off me with on-site software?”

How to demonstrate business acumen

In conclusion,  having business sense, is an indispensable trait for modern sales professionals. It empowers them to comprehend the complexities of the business world, make informed decisions, ask customers questions across the 7Ps, align their efforts with organizational goals, and ultimately drive success. Salespeople with business acumen not only enhance their personal careers but also contribute significantly to the growth and prosperity of the organizations they represent.


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