An insight-based selling approached can help a seller differentiate themselves, drive business outcome-based discussions, create a sense of urgency in the buyer, and provide value to a customer or potential customer. But providing insights for the sake of insights can create risks that can have an adverse effect on the potential deal. Today we start a series of blog posts that will review three potential risks of adopting an insight selling approach. In my first post I will look at the importance of staying focused on the pursuit.
There is no doubt that leveraging insights in the sale is important today. You have been living under a rock if you are in sales and haven’t read about or experienced the changes in buyer behavior — they are more informed, have increasing demands, have set higher expectations, etc. The use of insights at the right time and in the right way can truly help a seller. Sellers can encourage customers to think about their business issues and needs in a new way. This includes helping the customer to get past their own misunderstandings and misperceptions in order to make the best decisions for the business. Sellers must bring relevant insights and ideas to create value in the buying experience itself rather than just in the solution that the seller delivers. If sellers themselves do not become a point of differentiation, they will find themselves responding to a set of requirements defined by the customer, which may be right or wrong for what the customer really needs, and which may or may not reflect the seller’s strengths. They will find themselves competing on price and struggling to differentiate.
However, insights are neither a panacea nor a silver bullet. In the quest to outsmart competitors and, in some circles, outsmart customers, many have lost sight of the fundamental truth of selling: customers want value above all else, and value is much more complex than an insight pitched over the course of one or two meetings. Selling with insights must be carefully folded into a comprehensive, customer-focused selling methodology and seen as one tool in the sales toolkit rather than the entire toolkit itself. Organizations who successfully adopted an Insight Selling approach did so because they were aware of the risks and were proactive in managing them.
The Risk – Don’t Ignore the Pursuit
To be truly and wholly effective and differentiated in the eyes of today’s buyers, sellers need to create value in the buying experience itself — that means helping customers to better understand the true nature of a business issue and how best to address it. It is not about manipulating or controlling the customer. It’s about building credibility, fostering trust, and creating value for the customer and, in turn, creating opportunities for you as the seller.
Another cold, hard truth — there is no single trick to value creation that you can teach to your people and then set them free to go and sell away. If there was, we’d all be doing it right now! Circumstances, past experience, biases, pressure, fear, opportunities, competition, and personalities all complicate and make each opportunity pursuit unique. Sure, there are some standard best practices, but the most powerful way to navigate the buying process today is for sellers to continuously develop their skills to make smart decisions in the moment, plan and prepare better than anyone else, connect and build trust, and differentiate themselves in the ideas they bring, the way they show up, the words they use, their focus on the customer, and their passion for helping the customer achieve their business goals. Strength in opportunity planning, strategy, customer dialogues, and selling skills is an absolute pre-requisite for layering in insights. But, why is this so critical? Stay tuned for part 2 of this series to learn more about the traps of selling with insights.