How to Help Your Customer See the Business Value of Change with Darrell Amy
The Sales Conversation
“Sometimes a sales conversation can feel like we’re speaking different languages. If you’ve ever had that experience, you may benefit from this week’s podcast on the importance of business knowledge to every sale.”
In this episode, Bruce Scheer talks to Darrell Amy about the importance of learning to manage and focus your time to become a more productive and valuable seller. Darrell is the founder and chief innovation officer of Convergo Marketing and a co-host on the Selling From the Heart Podcast. With his extensive experience, he provides business-to-business (B2B) companies with sales and marketing solutions with particular attention to increasing long-term value for his clients.
Creating Productive Sales Conversations with the Language of Business
Losing a potential sale is a difficult thing to experience, especially if you don’t understand why it happened. Every salesperson worries about improving their productivity and earning a customer’s emphatic “yes.” While lost sales are an unavoidable part of the sales life, there are situations in which knowledge and experience can make a difference. For Darrell Amy, one major limitation in sales productivity is a lack of business knowledge. In other words, you need to recognize the importance of business value – immediate and long-term – in all sales conversations.
According to Darrell Amy, developing your business acumen by learning the language of business is essential for maximizing the success of your sales conversations. While good intentions have value to you, they generally lack sales value to the customer. To motivate customers to say “yes,” you need to present a clear understanding of the return on investment (ROI). Businesses, after all, have a limited amount of their most prized resources: time and money.
More importantly, businesses typically focus their time and money on their strategic priorities, which extend beyond the return on investment (ROI). It doesn’t matter if you’re solving a problem or have great ideas. The priorities of a business require that they are careful with the attention they give and the resources they expend.
Unfortunately, business acumen is often missing from the sales equation. For this reason, Darrell Amy suggests that we view sales skills and business acumen as the two pillars of sales.
Why does business acumen matter in sales conversations?
Most salespeople have a robust sales toolbox full of the right questions and actions to drive sales conversations. However, one of the biggest challenges for even seasoned salespeople is learning how to drive business conversations. Some of us jump too quickly into sales conversation mode and skip the business side of the equation. We are also likely to miss two critical factors:
- Understanding the key drivers for a business, including their business goals and challenges
- Failing to bring these key drivers into a conversation to show a prospective buyer that we understand where they are coming from
Understanding what motivates a business allows the seller to elucidate how a solution or product fits into the world of the buyer and connects to the top-level goals and challenges of the company. Making these connections maximizes the potential for closing a sale.
One way to understand the priorities of a business is to consider the different levels of value. These include:
- Return on Investment (ROI)
What are the immediate, hard costs to the buyer? What are the immediate, expected returns for the buyer?
- Business Improvement
How will your product or service improve the business in the long-term (i.e., enhancing workflow or customer retention)? How might these improvements help the business save on the hard costs?
- Risk Reduction
What are the risks the business faces as a consequence of its products or services (i.e., lawsuits, data breaches, etc.)? What can you do to minimize or remove those risks?
These values are dependent upon the business and its goals. While many of these values are not quantifiable, addressing them can turn a traditional sale into a deeper sale. Businesses are always thinking about business improvement or risk reduction, and the return on investment (ROI) can sometimes become a secondary interest. As such, demonstrating the value of your service or product to the long-term goals of the business offers the buyer more than just the return on investment (ROI). Instead, it offers exponential benefits.
Bringing the language of business into your sales conversations, thus, builds upon the two important dynamics of successful sales: trust and value.
How can you use the language of business in your sales conversations?
According to Darrell Amy, there are several immediate steps you can take to generate business-savvy sales conversations:
- Come to a prospective sale having done your homework on the business.
- Show genuine interest in learning about their business and prepare relevant questions to facilitate that learning.
- Begin sales conversations by establishing the company’s top strategic goals. Connect the flow of the conversation to those goals so the buyer does not lose sight of the impact your service or product will have on their bottom line.
- Close a sale the same way you started it: by bringing the conversation back to the business goals you identified at the start. Doing so reinforces the value of what you are offering.
Using these methods will create stronger connections between your sales goals and the business goals of the prospective buyer. As a result, you reinforce the value of what you are offering, mainly because you have looked beyond the immediate return to the long-term benefits for the company.
How can you develop your business knowledge?
While you don’t need to earn a business degree to become versed in business language and practices, there are a few things you can do to expand your knowledge base:
- Read business books and magazines
Take a look at the top business on Amazon and give some of them a read. Do the same with current business magazines. Both will keep you up-to-date with the field of business and the various perspectives involved.
- Listen to online lectures
Many universities offer lectures from various business courses in podcast form. Open Culture has a partial list of some of these courses.
- Take an online course
Websites such as EdX and Coursera offer online courses in a variety of business topics. Many of these courses are taught by top faculty at major universities and are either free or relatively affordable.
In other words, consume a steady diet of business education in addition to your sales education. After all, good sales professionals realize that learning is fundamental to sales success.
Remember that becoming a better seller is a progressive process. It takes time, effort, and perseverance. Adding business knowledge to your repertoire is just a part of the necessary process of adaptation. Take advantage of it.
- Language of Business – Educate yourself on the language of business by reading, taking classes, and listening to business owners. Rather than relying on well-versed sales strategies, learn to develop your business knowledge so you can clearly and directly invest your goals in the priorities of the client’s business.
- Genuine Curiosity – Begin a sales conversation by investing in the client’s business by showing genuine curiosity in what they do and in their top strategic goals. By doing so, you create a stronger connection to the company and its goals, which builds trust and solidifies the value you bring to the table.
- Beyond Immediate ROI – Think beyond the immediate return on investment (ROI) to the other factors that may improve the client’s business. This might include emphasizing the ways your solutions will help the business grow or reduce risk. In other words, think about long-term value in addition to guaranteed returns.
- Selling From the Heart by Larry Levine
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- Darrell’s links:
- Contact Darrell Amy on LinkedIn
- Article: “What is Business Acumen“
- Article: “The Critical Missing Ingredient in B2B Sales: Business Acumen“
- Blog Post: “Four Ways Sales People Who Sell On Price Shoot Themselves In The Foot… and Destroy Industries“
- Subscribe to Darrell’s popular Selling from the Heart Podcast
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