Confident Conversations for Sales Teams

Every sales professional understands the need to build strong relationships with their prospects. True consultative selling involves getting the prospect to share their concerns and challenges so the salesperson can understand their needs.

So where does finance come in?

Well let’s imagine you are actually in a sales role and meeting a prospective customer or client. You will probably be trying to ascertain information about their budget where you will be ready with information relating to the Return on Investment that your product or service can deliver. However, do you know whether your solution fits in with their key financial objectives and where you can actually add value?

  • What are their financial pain points? For some companies this might be cash flow – sometimes measured using the term Free Cash Flow or it could be that they are actually making a loss due to lack of Revenue or poor margins.
  • Could your sale be structured in a way that might make it more appealing to them?
  • Could they capitalise all or part of what you offer and is that likely to be appealing? (‘Capex versus Opex’ discussion)
  • How does it impact EBITDA and EBIT – common measurements used by companies? Is this a KPI they measure?

So, if they started talking about these topics, would you be able to confidently continue the conversation? We all know that to be successful in winning business, we need to engage our prospects in meaningful conversations.

The fact is that the finances of one company can look very different from those of another. The Balance Sheet of a manufacturing company is going to be very different from that of a service company, so understanding these differences is going to be extremely valuable in relating to the prospect. Furthermore, because their finances are so different, their pain points and challenges are also going to differ.

So what about internally?

Does your Sales Team understand:

  • The financial strategy of your organisation and its key financial objectives?
  • The key financial objectives of your manager? Managing upwards should not be passive and we are not referring here to brown nosing or political manoeuvering.
  • How your business unit or area is measured? Is it EBIT or maybe EBITDA?
  • How to get a business case approved? Here is yet another selling opportunity!

Whilst we will design a program to specifically address the development needs of your sales team, we would recommend using the Bonanza approach since it involves gamification. The visualisation of finance, using colour and graphics, simplifies financial concepts and is easily grasped by participants. The highly entertaining business simulation is a particular favourite with sales teams since it brings out their competitive natures!

Tip: There is a classic 2005 Harvard Business Review (HBR) article entitled ‘Managing Your Boss’. In the section entitled, ‘Understanding the Boss’, the article cites an example of a marketing manager with a superior performance record who was hired as Vice President of Marketing “to straighten out the marketing and sales problems”. The company, which was having financial difficulties, had recently been acquired by a larger corporation. The VP was giving free rein and whilst he recognised that market share was a key issue, his strategy for addressing it was through pricing decisions which increased volume but not profits. Both this VP and his boss ended up being fired and the HBR article concludes that if the VP had clearly understood the financial needs of his manager and the whole financial situation, there might have been a different outcome.

Financial Fitness Test

So how do you rate your financial smarts? Let's put them to the test with this 3 minute quiz!