To be a great sales rep, there are a handful of characteristics you need to have in your skill set. Fearless tenacity on the phone, infectious likability, and a kickass work ethic are among them.
But what about business acumen?
The ability to understand the inner workings of a business and what makes a company tick in record time is an underrated ability in a sales reps arsenal. If a sales rep can speak the language of the buyer execs and earn their respect… you can find a way to make it happen.
There are dozens of different strategies built for developing business acumen, but these simple tips are sure to push you in the right direction:
Be an entrepreneur on your own time.
Buy and sell something to make money. Warren Buffett bought and sold packs of gum from his grandfather’s grocery store at age six. Mark Cuban perfected his pitch selling garbage bags to neighbors at just twelve years old. Building this entrepreneurial spirit can begin at any age — you just have to start.
Hang with CEOs and founders.
It’s an adage for a reason: you are the company you keep. Surround yourself with CEOs and company founders to build a knowledge base set on the foundation of experience. Ask for advice. Watch their decision making. Learn through example.
Go to local networking events.
Not only are breakout sessions informative, they’re also networking hotbeds for entrepreneurs. Networking is a powerful tool, and attending events filled with people who share a passion for business will multiply your web of relationships. Meet as many people as you can. A well-connected sales rep is a valuable sales rep.
Read business books.
You’d read your textbook for a history test. Why wouldn’t you read literature on how to be a better businessperson? Salesloft sales development reps read The Servant, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and The Challenger Sale, to develop an understanding of business from the top down.
What competitive natured sales rep doesn’t want to play a game? There are dozens of games developed specifically to improve business acumen. Salesforce.com plays a business simulation. Zodiak® is a game of finance and strategy for business acumen training. CashFlow® teaches skills in money management and investing. Find what board games are best for business acumen and practice developing your skills.
It’s not enough to be technologically brilliant. We need senior people who understand business processes, too. –Larry Quinlan, Deloitte Chief Information Officer
Expanding the reach of sales development goes hand in hand with expanding the sales industry as a whole. More and more young CEOs are emerging to run things their way, and in order to be a sales leader, you need to think like one. Grow your knowledge base on the fundamentals of business. Keep company with passionate and driven entrepreneurs. Immerse yourself in the language of your buyer execs.
Have more tips for developing business acumen? Comment below and share how you learned to earn the respect of your buyers through keen business sense.