Financial literacy isn’t really thought of as one of the core skills of a sales rep, but it should be. If you don’t understand the basics of finance and market economics, it’s next to impossible to sell effectively, explain the financial benefits of your product, or even negotiate a deal.

What kind of ROI can the customer expect from buying your product? What’s the CAPEX/OPEX? What’s the Payback? If you can’t answer these questions clearly and succinctly to a prospect, you should not be selling until you educate yourself in the basics of finance. Here are the top finance skills every sales rep needs to have in order to succeed.

Understand the Jargon

First off, you need to familiarize yourself with the most common financial terms and acronyms that businesses use every day. This means you need to understand what people mean when they talk about the Return on Investment (ROI), the Capital Expenditure (CAPEX), Operating Expenses (OPEX) and Payback, or time-to-value. You also need to know these values inside and out for the products you’re selling.

Without that knowledge, and the fluency to talk about these numbers in detail, you will look like an idiot when a finance-minded prospect asks what the OPEX of your product is, and you can’t answer on the spot. A lack of financial knowledge could easily cost you the deal.

Show the Financial Value

You’re always going to have to demonstrate the business value of your product to a CFO or other finance employee before a deal is approved and signed. B2B selling is all about showing the ROI of your product, from whatever angle you can. The business value or ROI means your product offers some quantifiable savings in time, money or employee effort that you can demonstrate to a prospect. But if you can’t understand how the prospect’s business runs their finances, how their cash flow works, or what could save them money, you can never fully demonstrate this value to customers.

In this case, you have to think like a CEO or CFO. If your product makes life easier for a line-of-business admin, the CFO won’t care. This is not what you need to focus on for this portion of the sale. If your product costs $100 per month, you need to demonstrate how quickly the investment will pay off, and how it will result in a net positive.

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Find Business Insights

The best sales reps in the world of B2B aren’t just able to talk the finance talk and offer value to customers – they can also diagnose tough business problems that prospects don’t even know they have. This requires a much deeper level of understanding of business, at a financial and tactical level. By asking probing questions about a prospect’s business in the qualifying stage, sales reps should always be looking for pain points that they can address directly with a solution.

When reps identify a business solution with real financial impact – such as a tool that can help analyze your data quickly – that’s when the magic happens. Selling is all about getting that “Ah-Ha!” moment of realization, where a prospect realizes they can use your product to make a big difference to their bottom line. This is the best case scenario, one that can only happen when you understand the financial concerns facing businesses. When sales reps get to this level, they become financial and selling superstars.


If you’re trying to connect with prospects, you have to speak with to them in terms that are relevant to them. If the person on the other line is finance-minded, sales reps have to be prepared to show off their financial knowledge and prove their product’s value. With even just a little more financial knowledge, you’ll see more traction on your sales calls.


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