Whilst working with a client recently, I realised how important it is to get their sales team to think as business people and not just as salespeople. There are a couple of qualifying statements however, this need to think like business people is most relevant when sell to "c" level prospects and this is irrespective of the size of the buying organisation. It became obvious to me when we started discussing how the decision was going to be made. Their answers were all around the general business need and the benefits that the company's product would deliver to the prospect.
Selling to C level people requires the salesperson to put the potential purchase into a business context; these people rarely make decisions based on product capability and benefits alone. The more salespeople can understand and interpret the business context the more successful they are likely to be.
So what do I mean by this? Let me give you more details, the internal discussion was about why, despite assurances that we had the best technical solution the salesman couldn't progress the sale, we'd got access to the senior executives who were all reasonably accessible but still the sale stalled. So I asked the salesman to go back to the prospect and discuss the business issues surrounding this purchase, what if any were the competing business cases? Was a capital or revenue purchase more important and why? It turned out that the decision was either to buy or outsource. The salesman came back crestfallen and said there was nothing more he could do.
"No" I said "now we have to look at this in a different way, our job is to find out who are our supporters and help the put together a winning business case." To do this we need to think like businessmen, understanding the product won't help us we need to look work out a strategy to get them to manufacture in house. This is where the sales team really struggled because it was the first time they'd tried to look at the purchase of their product from a business perspective. Fortunately we were able to deliver a compelling case based around business risk and the rate of return on an internal purchase.