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Jack Kasel

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Cultivating Business Acumen as a Sales Superpower

Posted by Jack Kasel on Thu, May 23, 2024

Business or sales acumen is the ability to connect with prospects and clients on a deeper level by understanding their unique problems, anticipating their needs, and leveraging knowledge of their business and industry to recommend the best possible solution — regardless of whether or not it results in a closed deal.

The ability to understand a prospect or client’s industry and their market allows a B2B salesperson to understand the big picture. In order to have business acumen, salespeople must understand the forces and factors that impact their industry and it's impact on their clients and potential customers. This knowledge also helps them to differentiate their approach in the sales process. Salespeople with highly developed business acumen are not focused on the sale at hand, but on the broader goal of being a partner and advisor for the long-term.

For those in a producer’s role, whether it’s sales or business development, cultivating business acumen is essential. It allows salespeople the ability to uncover and articulate the challenges faced by the customer or client before they do. This skill involves understanding their problems, the impact of those problems or opportunities, and seeing the world from their perspective.

Business acumen is the key to perceiving the hindrances and challenges impeding their business growth. It’s about comprehending their aspirations to strive and thrive. Every company owner, CEO, or division manager is striving to overcome challenges, bring in new talent, and expand into new markets. Simultaneously, they are thriving by increasing revenue and optimizing costs to enhance the bottom line.

By demonstrating a deeper understanding or business acumen, a salesperson can position themselves as a trusted advisor who comprehends their world. One exercise to test business acumen is to see how long it takes for a salesperson engaged in a conversation with a prospect or customer to introduce their products, services, or company. Are they able to extend the conversation for two minutes, 20 minutes, or even two hours by focusing on the prospect’s needs and challenges before pushing their own solutions?

Developing Business Acumen

In addition to using every industry tool at hand, a well-thought-out pre-call plan can guide a salesperson to organize and articulate the relevant points during the conversation. Instead of entering a sales interaction with the sole aim of making a sale, a salesperson must shift their perspective to building a relationship. They should ask themselves, “How can I establish a meaningful connection with this person?” Developing and exercising their sales superpower – business acumen – is crucial for success in this endeavor.

We partner with Objective Management Group (OMG), the pioneer and industry leader in sales evaluations. According to OMG, these are some of the qualifying competencies that contribute to helping salespeople develop business acumen:

  • Able to Stay in the Moment
  • Self-Limiting Beliefs Won't be an Obstacle
  • Knows Why a Prospect Would Buy
  • Asks about Everything
  • Not Vulnerable to Competition
  • Meet with Decision Maker
  • Uncovers Actual Budget
  • Will Discuss Finances
  • Knows Decision-Making Process
  • Can Influence the Decision-Making Process
  • Handles High-Ticket Pricing
  • Need to Be Liked Doesn't Get in the Way

Salespeople who are successful at developing their business acumen superpower have a frame of reference of continual learning. This includes their desire to fully understand their client’s goals and objectives. In fact, according to Amazon CEO, Andy Jazzy, the second a person thinks they know it all -- or even just enough -- is the second their career generally starts to stall out. Those who continue to grow into greater and greater success, on the other hand, remain hungry for learning. "The biggest difference between the people I started with in the early stage of my career and what they're doing now has to do with how great they were at learning," states Jassy. 

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Topics: Sales Training, motivating sales people, sales training tips, sales tech

How to Deal with Rejection in Sales

Posted by Jack Kasel on Thu, Jul 07, 2022

Back in the early seventies there was a group called The Main Ingredient. At the time, they had a hit song and the lyrics went something like this… “ So you’re heart broken, you’re sitting around moping, crying and crying. You even feel like dyin’. Well, before you do something rash, dig this- everybody plays the fool!”

In our world of selling, maybe everybody doesn't play the fool, but we know this, dealing with rejection in sales is part of the job. Everybody gets rejected. So, the question is when that happens, what happens? Does it take you two minutes, two hours, two days, two weeks to recover, or are you able to get right back into the fight? When we find people have a hard time recovering from rejection, it’s probably one of two reasons. Number one: they're way too emotionally involved in this sale. “If I don't get this sale, I'm in trouble. If I do get this sale, my year is made!”

And the second reason is people don't have the pipeline that they should have. It's not as robust and filled with other good prospects as it could be. So, when those two things happen, maybe we take the rejection a little harder than we should.

Here's a formula that I believe you can use that'll help you get past your fear and help you deal with rejection. The formula is simply this; SW3 N. And that stands for this…

Some will. Some won't. So what. Next!

Keep that mantra chanting in your head! Some of the salespeople I work with even write it down on their desk and refer to it as they’re saying goodbye to one prospect and trying to find their next opportunity. Somebody needs what you do, go find them. And when you do, don't fear rejection.  Remember SW3 N.White and Blue Did You Know Interesting Fact Instagram Post

Topics: rejection, overcoming rejection, handles rejection

4 Questions to Ask Your Prospects and Gain Clarity

Posted by Jack Kasel on Thu, Jun 17, 2021

If we don’t fully understand the reason for a prospect's statement, the purpose of their question, or dig deeper to find the real problem, we will waste time and miss opportunities.


In his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey has a quote… “Seek first to understand. Then to be understood.”  I think that statement is especially true for sales professionals.

When we coach our clients, we try to get them to understand and remember these three tips when in conversation with their prospects and clients:

  1. The statement they make isn’t the actual statement.
  2. The question they ask isn’t the true question.
  3. The problem they have isn’t the actual problem.

So, as your prospects talk about their main concerns, your job is to determine the following: Is this a symptom or a problem?  Problems get solved, symptoms are tolerated.  I was working with a prospect and he kept saying he needed to fix his cash flow problem.  The more we talked, the more it became clear that cash flow wasn’t the real problem. The real problem was he missed out on an opportunity to purchase one of his competitors.  The symptom was cash flow, the problem was missing opportunities to acquire market share.  We focused on fixing his true problem.

One of the ways, and really the only way, to bring clarity to the conversation is by asking or saying the following when we hear prospects make statements or ask questions:

  • Tell me more about that . . .
  • What happens if that problem isn’t fixed?
  • When you say (insert statement here), I’m not sure I know what you mean.
  • Many people ask me that question for a variety of reasons; I would like to hear yours.

We also need to listen to emotionally charged words such as . . .

  • Need to fix…
  • I’m going to…
  • We simply can’t tolerate…
  • Others include: worried, upset, mad, frustrated

These are emotionally driven words and emotion drives sales.  Facts and figures justify sales, but emotion drives it.  If we don’t fully understand the reason for the statement, the purpose of the question, or dig deeper to find the real problem, we will waste time and miss opportunities. 

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: Questions for Prospects, closing more sales, Qualifying skills, increase sales

Creating a Habit for Sales Success: Time Blocking

Posted by Jack Kasel on Thu, Jun 03, 2021

Do you block off time in your calendar specifically to perform the sales activities required to be successful? If not, why?

In this blog, we discuss the importance of creating systems and habits and how implementing them into your everyday life will help you obtain greater success.


The Greek Philosopher, Aristotle, said, “We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” I don’t remember reading any accounts of Aristotle conducting sales training, but I believe he would have been pretty good at it.

I have a statement and a question, that tie into Aristotle’s quote on habits:

  • The systems you have in place are perfectly designed to produce the results you are getting.
  • Do you own, and do you like, the outcome you produced?

Habits + systems = outcomes.  I think I can get agreement that, if both habits and systems are excellent and well-thought-out, the outcome will be what it needs to be.  The problem is, if either habits or systems are bad, the outcome will never be what it could be.  Here’s the good news: you are in control of both the habits you create and the systems you follow.

Let’s take a look at habits.  There are many you can create.  One of the best habits you can develop is setting aside an appointment, each week, to meet with your most important customer.  That most important customer is you and the habit you must form is to never, under any circumstances, break that appointment.  During that appointment with yourself, you plan and set goals for your week, read things to improve your skills and craft, or just spend time organizing yourself.  You will be shocked at how much better you can be by investing 30 minutes each week.

What systems do you have in place that will help you succeed? What are the key factors you need to achieve to succeed in sales?  Are they introductions?  Cold Calls?  Appointments? Presentations, etc.?  What’s your conversion ratio?  How many calls turn into appointments?  How many appointments turn into presentations?  Have a system, measure the activity, find the gaps, do the things necessary to fix them.

Finally, let’s look at outcomes.  Do you own the outcome you’ve created?  Another way to look at it is this: when something doesn’t happen the way you wanted or needed it to, do you look out the window for the reason or do you look in the mirror for the reason?

So, there you go.  A simple formula . . . Habits (good or bad) + Systems (good or bad) = Outcome . . .  If you own the outcome and don’t like it, fix the things on the left side of the equal sign.

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Increase Sales by Eliminating Misunderstandings and Closing Delays

Posted by Jack Kasel on Thu, Apr 22, 2021

In business, especially in sales; delays, misunderstandings, and communication can go awry. Sometimes, even with the influx of technology and communication tools, it is easy to misinterpret what a prospect, or salesperson, says. 

So, how do we make these communication lines more efficient?

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“What we have here… is a failure to communicate.”

You may recognize that line from one of my all-time favorite movies, Cool Hand Luke. If you get nothing else out of this blog, do yourself a favor and go rent that movie. You will be glad you did.

Strother Martin’s character in the movie Cool Hand Luke makes that statement when the prisoners don’t do what is expected of them. This same problem can occur during the sales process and it can cause problems with moving the sale to a timely close. It usually manifests itself when something like this occurs—“I think I know what you are going to do" and "You think you know what I’m going to do, but neither one of us knows for sure what the other one wants or needs."

Thus, the need for the AWATE.

The AWATE stands for the As We Agreed To Email. It’s a brief correspondence that the salesperson can send out to clearly indicate what the expectations are (for both parties) in terms of what is needed and expected. It can be used early in the process, throughout the middle, and is extremely effective just before you present your solutions to the prospect.

The AWATE process is pretty simple but can be very effective. It’s a bullet-point letter or email, which spells out the go-forward expectations for both the salesperson and prospect. It also contains date-specific deadlines to make sure the process doesn’t get stalled or delayed. 

Everything works better with deadlines and that is especially true when closing sales. As mentioned, it can be very effective just before your closing presentation. The important elements of the AWATE include:

  • The problems that you have uncovered (the ones your prospect needs to be fixed)
  • The budget you need to stay within
  • All the decision-makers will be present
  • Finally, and most importantly, the agreed to and anticipated date when a decision will be made

As sales professionals, you should try to control as many aspects of the sales process as possible.

We believe the AWATE can help you accomplish that goal, or at least help eliminate any misunderstandings that may hinder you from closing more business. 

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: Closing skills, increase sales, AWATL, closing sales techniques


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    Anthony Cole Training Group has been working with financial firms for close to 30 years helping them become more effective in their markets and closing their sales opportunity gap.  ACTG has mastered the art of using science-based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss our weekly sales management blog insights from our team of expert contributors.


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