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Business Acumen for Sellers

2 min readApril 2, 2020

A couple important thoughts about Business Acumen for sellers.

#1: Business acumen for sales is not about recognizing how one sales situation is similar to others you’ve encountered. Acumen is about understanding how it’s different.

That’s how you uncover real opportunities in sales. The unexpected big deals. The opportunities that your competitors were too lazy to explore.

Unfortunately, we train sellers to sell vanilla. We project onto buyers carefully crafted personas that say they all want to buy vanilla. They don’t. There are other flavors out there. Maybe strawberry.

The flavor doesn’t represent the features your buyers purchase. It represents the outcomes they want to achieve by using your product.

Too often buyers think they have to buy vanilla. Because that’s all people are selling to them. Business acumen enables you to offer another flavor they didn’t know was available.

#2: Business acumen for sales is not about knowing all the answers. It’s about knowing the questions to ask.

Assuming that you know the answer to a question before you’ve asked it is the opposite of acumen. It’s intellectual laziness.

The best questions to ask a buyer aren’t those on your script or in your playbook. They are the questions that are unique to the context of that specific sales situation.

The best questions to ask are the follow-up questions that clarify the intentions and desires of the buyer. The only way to know which follow-up questions to ask is by carefully listening and not pre-judging answers to prior questions.

Acumen is about the ability to understand. Making your buyers feel that you truly understand their challenges and desired outcomes is a significant source of value for them.

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