Business Fundamentals for Enterprise Sales

Gain tactical strategies tailored for professional sellers in search of bigger, better, and faster deals. Learn how to pinpoint a customer’s most urgent business needs using public investor data, then craft a specific point-of-view to grab C-suite attention. No MBA required!


5 Minutes

Ready to begin your mini MBA? Get started by meeting Anand Shah. His deep industry expertise provides an essential foundation for the concepts shared through the next 7 video modules. You’ll learn why now is a pivotal time to learn executive selling strategies and what you can expect on the road ahead.

Hi, my name is Anand Shah, and I've spent the last 20 years in the world of finance, strategy, and sales. I've had the privilege of working for companies like Goldman Sachs and UBS, as well as advising CEOs and c-suite individuals around the world while working with Accenture. Over the last 10 years, I've trained over 4,000 consultants and sales executives on building an executive point of view and gaining financial fluency. Now, as co-founder and CEO of Databook, I'm here to share with you how you can use all of these techniques in your sales pursuits.

This class is for anyone in go-to-market teams looking to drive outcomes for your customers and achieve higher earnings. Throughout modules one through seven, there are examples of net new hunter teams that have exceeded $35 million sales quotas by 135% within nine months. We've also seen account executives who have quadrupled a $2 million renewal to an $8 million sale, and others who've crafted a $20 million deal within eight months. The aim of this course is to help you achieve similar success.

The best sales executives are smart consultants who work tirelessly for their customers, bring in deals for their employers, and ultimately win big. This approach has proven effective in the post-iPhone era, where information parity has replaced information asymmetry, and buyers seek smart money decisions with significant returns on investment due to the impact of COVID-19 and the financial crisis.

Going forward, enterprise sales executives need to focus on funding events, finance, and the value and ROI their customers will gain from investing in their solutions. They must engage like consultants, advising the executive suite while working their way up the organization to secure larger deals. Engaging more senior stakeholders, especially in the line of business, is crucial for success.

To excel as an enterprise seller, you must be relevant and understand your customers' businesses, industries, competition, investments, financials, and investor expectations. Armed with this knowledge, you can tailor the best solutions and case studies to engage your customers convincingly, promising 5-10x returns on their investment. This requires justifying your solutions with examples from your industry and personal experience.

By orienting yourself around these concepts, you'll be successful in identifying key buyers with pain, urgency, seniority, and buying authority for larger deals. Differentiating from competitors through a strong point of view and justifications for larger transactions will strengthen your position. Additionally, understanding the risks and opportunities for your deals can accelerate new opportunities in the sales cycle.

In conclusion, embracing a consultant-like approach and understanding the financial aspects of your customers' businesses will pave the way for your success as an enterprise sales executive.

Using the P&L to Find Larger Deals

13 Minutes

Learn the foundational concepts of the Profit and Loss Statement (P&L) and how you can use them to engage executives and drive bigger deals. Understanding key financial metrics will help you uncover your target accounts’ pain and urgency—spotting operational weaknesses and areas of the business where they are underperforming. This insight helps you prioritize what to pitch and to whom while elevating your executive-level conversations.

We're going to cover the foundational concepts of the profit and loss statement and how you can use those terms to engage executives and drive bigger deals. Let's start with a simple example from a few years ago when I was training experienced sales executives at a large SAS company. I asked them what they would pitch to Macy's and to whom. Two reps came back with different answers, and the question arose about how to determine the real deal.

Instead of relying solely on customer interactions, you can use financial data to understand a company's business. For instance, Macy's had high gross margins due to buying low and selling high to customers. Their chief marketing officer (CMO) was investing in omnichannel experience, which offered opportunities for engagement.

Understanding how a company makes money and where it spends it is crucial. Think of a business as earning income from revenues and deducting expenses like salaries and rent, which results in a cash balance. Just like individuals, businesses aim to create value, with revenue growth being a key indicator. Starbucks, for example, had good revenue growth in the past two years, but 2020 saw a dip due to the pandemic.

Analyzing revenue streams helps you identify key pain points and urgency areas. In Starbucks' case, their Channel Partnerships revenue declined, indicating a need for solutions in that area. Knowing how a company spends its money is essential too. Analyzing the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) and Selling, General, and Administrative (SG&A) costs helps you identify inefficiencies and possible solutions.

Gross margins are essential in assessing a company's overall efficiency. Companies with higher margins can invest more in growth and customer relationships. Starbucks' gross margins have been slipping, indicating a need for solutions related to pricing optimization, demand forecasting, and supply chain improvement.

SG&A efficiency is another critical metric. Starbucks hasn't been efficient in this area, while competitors like Keurig and Pete's have fared better. Solutions related to people operations and marketing automation could help companies improve their SG&A efficiency.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) is a measure of profitability. Starbucks' profitability has been affected by the pandemic, but there's room for improvement. Understanding these metrics and identifying pain points can help you engage with key buying groups and propose appropriate solutions to drive bigger deals.

In summary, using financial data to analyze a company's performance and identify areas of pain and urgency can be valuable in your sales efforts. By understanding key metrics like revenue growth, gross margins, SG&A efficiency, and profitability, you can tailor your approach and propose relevant solutions to potential clients.

My final takeaway for this module is that when you're looking at any one of these metrics, whether it's revenue growth, gross margins, or SG&A efficiency, try to think through some of the key questions and answer those through the data. Are they growing or shrinking? Is it better or worse than peers? What are their forecasts going forward? Does this look like an area of pain and urgency? Do you have solutions that can address any of these key value drivers?

Well, that's enough for me around Starbucks. I'm getting thirsty; I'm gonna go get my next cup of Americano.

Interpret Value Drivers to Secure Executive Meetings

10 Minutes

Build on the P&L by exploring key financial metrics that will help you engage with executives in their language. We will combine the P&L and the balance sheet into a visual framework—the value driver tree—that helps quickly identify barriers to value, potential solutions that can eliminate those obstacles, and the key buying groups most interested in those solutions.

So building on the P&L, we're now going to look at your customers' value drivers. That's going to help you engage executives at a more senior level and have a dialogue that's familiar to them. We're going to take the income statement and the balance sheet and bring them together into a value driver tree, a simple framework where we've got the strengths and weaknesses. This way, you can look at where your customer is in pain, where they have urgency, and where they might be outperforming the competition.

Let me go back to one of the reasons why this is important to you. A couple of years ago, I was working with an SVP of sales who was training his team around these topics. After explaining the concept of value drivers to them, he had a light bulb moment and realized that 30% of their pipeline was filled with a specific solution that had no pain and urgency with their customers. They had never considered that any of those deals could actually impact their customers. They only thought about the deal size and closed dates. Do they know if the deal has pain and urgency with their customers? This is an excellent opportunity for you to reassess and potentially expand the deal size into an area where they are looking for bigger challenges to solve in their business.

I'm going to start with a very practical setup. You may be familiar with stock price charts. Let's take a look at one for Starbucks. As we look at the stock price over the last few years, it seems like it's going pretty well for Starbucks. There was a bit of a blip due to the pandemic, but their stock prices are outperforming peers. In other words, if you invested $100 in Starbucks a year ago, it would be worth roughly $150 today. That's a great result, but the question is why did it go up? Have people returned to their stores quicker than expected? To understand that, we need to think about investor expectations.

Investors expect that Starbucks will generate more cash in the future than they do today. They are always thinking about whether the free cash flow in Starbucks' business can amplify going forward. To make this example practical, think about two individuals, A and B. A has a high net worth and relatively low debt, while B has a low wage and quite a few debts. The first person is more creditworthy in the eyes of credit agencies because they are more likely to pay back their debts. Similarly, investors rate companies based on their creditworthiness—whether they will generate more cash in the future.

Cash flow comes from revenue. If sales aren't coming in the door, there won't be more cash. Starbucks' revenue growth has underperformed, along with their gross margins and capital efficiency. These underperformances are starting to help us narrow down areas of pain and urgency. Key buying groups responsible for addressing these areas are sales, marketing, Channel sales, supply chain, procurement, sourcing, and finance. Starbucks needs solutions related to customer experience, Channel sales development, pricing optimization, logistics, and demand to address these challenges.

All these companies are living organisms, and their businesses are changing frequently. Keeping track of how your customer is doing is essential. Your customers' competition is also investing in their business, and you can help them outperform by addressing their strengths and weaknesses, identifying pain and urgency with your solutions.

That's the value driver framework, and now you hopefully have a better understanding of where pain and urgency can be found with your customer. Next up, we're going to talk about management incentives and executive compensation, which is going to strike right at the heart of how those metrics are important. You can go and engage with confidence. As one of my former bosses used to say to me, "Hey Anna, I've given you the keys to the Cadillac." Hopefully, I've done the same here with you. You now have the recipe for understanding how every company has pain and urgency and where to focus on their business.

UNLOCK: Using Executive Compensation to Align Incentives

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