We continually find that many direct salespeople struggle when it comes to helping customers make financial and operational decisions. If salespeople fail to perform, this may be the cause.
In response to this problem, some larger companies provide finance-dedicated specialists to assist salespeople to create Return on Investment (ROI), lease versus buy, payback, break-even and cash flow analysis. We have also seen a plethora of financial apps to help salespeople with mathematical and business calculations. This is an expensive solution that does not address a more fundamental issue.
Customers Want and Need Help
In complex sales involving technology and/or services, it is vital for direct salespeople to have the business and finance acumen to help justify big ticket purchases or leases. Customers expect it. A financial and operational decision is always part of the buying process. Knowing the technology, product, the customer and the market is not enough.
What’s the Problem?
In our training workshops and courses, we find progress is often hindered because many learners can’t get past the math. College professors often find college students struggle with P&L or balance sheet applications due to poor math skills.
It seems too many salespeople are mathematically challenged and struggle to apply four function arithmetic, elementary algebra and geometry to sales financial and business scenarios.
If customers want and need their salespeople to be their trusted advisers then salespeople must be able to apply both math and financial skills.
Recommendation for Hiring and Training
Here are our recommendations:
· Make it a part of the hiring process to expect applicants to demonstrate proficiency, either in interviews or assessments, to provide insights using basic math calculations. For example, a question could be given to a candidate to explain and give an example of a ROI or payback for a specific scenario
· When conducting training, provide pre-work and exercises to ensure salespeople can apply basic math skills to the targeted content area. It is astonishing how even experienced salespeople can hold up a training session because they have not mastered the math. This creates frustration for them and their colleagues.
There are few direct sales jobs where mathematical and financial acumen is not required. The ability of an employee to apply four function arithmetic, elementary algebra and geometry to business problems should be considered a prerequisite.