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A sales acumen definition before we dive in: sales acumen is an understanding of prospects and an understanding of how best to approach a sale. Sales acumen is composed of the behaviors, skills and traits that make a successful salesperson. This isn't something you learn once and expect to get it - it's something that takes practice and repetition over time.

What is sales acumen compared to business acumen? A solid understanding of the fundamentals of business is a general definition for business acumen. A sales acumen definition expands on traditional business acumen and requires additional skills. 

Sales Acumen Skills Every Sales Professional Needs

Sales acumen skills include prospecting, diagnosing, presenting, overcoming objections, negotiating, and closing. These fundamental skills rarely change, but can be refined over time and with experience. The addition of sales acumen on top of business acumen helps you not only understand your prospect’s business, but then how your organization can help them achieve growth goals. 

How To Improve Your Sales Acumen In Four Steps

  1. Stay Up-to-Date on Global Events

  2. Subscribe to an Equity Market Newsletter

  3. Learn How to Read Financial Statements

  4. Build Your Network of Trusted Colleagues 

Step 1: Stay Up-to-Date on Global Events

It’s more than understanding your prospect’s industry and the tertiary industries that play a role in their ecosystem. With global supply chains and just-in-time inventory to name a few trends, organizations are more susceptible to chain reactions. That being said, staying informed about what’s going on in the world is one of the most important sales acumen skills. 

You’ll gain a competitive edge by understanding changing financial conditions in certain markets, or legislative hurdles that are now in the picture. Inversely, entering a conversation without this background can leave you flat-footed and make it very difficult to connect with your prospect. 

Read More: Selling to the C-Suite

Step 2: Subscribe to an Equity Market Newsletter

Improve your sales acumen skills by making a commitment to stay informed – and subscribe to the sources that will help you do that. Working to understand what’s important to your prospects as they look at the economy and the world around them is what sales acumen is made of. 

Subscriptions like these can keep you well-informed of market trends and news: 

Step 3: Learn How to Read Financial Statements

What does your prospect mean when they say “bottom line?” Developing this sales acumen skill is essential. If you’re selling to public companies, quarterly statements provide a wealth of information. By reading these documents, you can understand trends in their industry, which business units were or weren’t profitable, and what direction their future strategy is headed.

Read More: Successful Sales Research: How to Gather Information on Personas, Prospects and Potential Buyers

It’s more than just understanding the difference between assets and liabilities. Even if you’re not selling to public companies at this time, explore some quarterly statements and understand how they work and how decisions are made based on their contents. 

Step 4: Build Your Network of Trusted Colleagues

Sales acumen skills are built over time and become refined and refreshed with experience. As a young professional, it will take time to expand your knowledge of different industries and business models. Even for those in the middle of their career can likely point to a type of business or industry they haven’t truly experienced yet. Lean on the sales acumen of your network and make a commitment to constantly learn from others. 

This can be your mentor, your boss, previous colleagues or professional groups and organizations. Mentorship and learning can come from many sources. For this purpose, among others, Funnel Clarity offers a LinkedIn group for sales training alumni to stay connected and share knowledge. In the midst of subscriptions and news-gathering, don’t discount the importance of learning from someone with real-life experience. 

Make a Commitment to Improve Your Sales Acumen 

The landscape is always changing, and sales professionals should be continuously refining their skillset. If you’re more inclined to an instructional setting for foundational skills, read more about online sales training provided by Funnel Clarity. Explore topics including prospecting, qualifying, inside sales, proactive account management and selling in a new marketplace.