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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Business Acumen - Another Contribution from Leopard David Ramos. "The World of Selling"

By Dave Ramos

I was listening to this consultant/trainer speak at a national show this past week and he made the statement “The world of selling hasn’t changed much in recent years.” Then he continued to dole out the same old tired advice, instructions, and stupid clichés that were taught decades ago…at least the guy is consistent (see, I always spin it in the positive).

The only problem with his philosophy is that those teachings are the reasons, that today, so many salespeople more than ever are struggling to survive.

Here is what I know. The world of business, in general, has changed DRAMATICALLY. Yet for whatever reason, one area of business that has been remarkably stagnant and continues to fiercely resist change is sales.

Make 2011 about your personal development in your sales profession. Leave the stale, crusty, techniques of the past behind. Focus on effective techniques and self-education that will truly have an impact on your career. Focus on building and expanding your business network. If the CIO is your target in the MS or MPS world, then you should understand the network CIOs live in and connect wherever you can.

  1. CIO’s team – cultivate relationships inside the circle. Learn who their staff is and learn to leverage contacts one level removed.
  2. CIO’s peers – they are trusted more than any other source of information. References and referrals count. Learn how to ask for them and leverage them.
  3. Also other relationships they might have with trusted supplier partners, consultants, etc...

Next, learn to do some research people. Did you know the #2 annoyance of technology buyers is reps showing up unprepared for meetings? Un-freaking-believable!!! You mean to tell me we go through all this effort to get a meeting then show up unprepared?! Here is a basic checklist that I use to test sales reps on their accounts prior to them engaging a prospect or client on an appointment.

  1. Who is the account’s CEO, president or owner? Who are the key contacts by department?
  2. What is the company’s highest priority goal or objective?
  3. What is their mission/ vision/core values?
  4. What is their key product or service?
  5. Who is their toughest competitor?
  6. What is the biggest problem they face in their industry?
  7. Is there pending legislation that will affect their industry?
  8. What is their greatest strength?
  9. What is their strategy: a) Low-Cost b) Differentiation c) Niche Player?
  10. Who is their largest customer?

Lastly, develop some business acumen. Business acumen can be described as an understanding of how a business works and what it takes to make it profitable. It is about comprehending topics such as amortization, assets, balance sheets, book value, cash flow, fixed assets, liquidity, margin and return on assets, to name just a few.

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Reading business publications and watch specific business channels can provide current information about business trends, markets, or economic factors affecting various businesses and industries.
  2. Join a professional networking organization (there it is again, networking, sorry cold call lovers!) and association dedicated to sharing business information with their members can offer networking events, conferences, and seminars.
  3. Attending evening or weekend courses focusing on business topics can build one’s knowledge on matters such as understanding financial statements and P&L (Profit & Loss), cash generation, or revenue growth.
  4. Finding a mentor with a strong business understanding is a great way to learn how businesses operate. The mentor can be a co-worker, a former boss, or someone who is a member of the same professional association that you joined to do NETWORKING.

In today’s fast-moving world, we may face some of the same challenges, but the answers are constantly changing. If you do not continue your learning curve and have an open mind to alternative ideas and approaches, you will be left behind. Those who continually adapt are better at getting ahead, while those who insist on clinging to their old, “right” answers will become obsolete.

About the author: David Ramos is a sales operations consultant for Strategy Development, an industry management consulting and advance sales training firm providing sales, sales management, service & MPS information.  He also instructs a selling skills workshop called “Sell With Success”. You can reach him at

Click to email me. 

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