Category Archives: Insight Selling
Challenger Selling: “Courageous Questions” Differ from “Grenades”
Many sales leaders are urging their salespeople to adopt a challenger selling methodology and ask “challenging” questions to have effective sales meetings with prospects and clients. The intent is to be more provocative, create differentiation in a crowded market, provide insight, and hopefully add more value to the conversation. This post is designed to share some mistakes I have been seeing with this approach and to offer suggestions for properly asking “courageous questions” in an effective sales meeting.
Insight Selling: Essential Skills for Shaping and Creating Sales Opportunities
Opportunities to grow your business with a major account come in three different modes: Respond, Shape, and Create.
When you respond to an opportunity, the customer has already identified the issue, the solution, and the expected outcomes. Now, a provider is sought. This is the most reactive style of account development. The scope and budget are usually already set. Pressures on both price and competition are often high. By no means should you ignore such opportunities. Flexibility is a key element of business. You have to be able to respond as well as initiate. But, responding is not the best way to develop and grow a business relationship.
Insight Selling – How to Move Beyond an Inward Focus and a Product-based Message
The Problem – Ultra Informed Buyers
Today’s buyers are savvier than ever, which makes selling to them a greater challenge for sales reps and teams. Whether they’re interested in a one-off transaction for a particular product or service, or a long-term strategic partnership, customers from companies of any size and industry can research just about anything they desire online, which puts them in a position of strength over sellers.
If your salespeople are selling the same old products the same old way, then you could very well be deep in a rut. Have you backed yourself into a corner as a commoditized order fulfillment broker rather than someone who can truly add value?
Value Strategy: The Foundation of Collaborative Account Development
Sales people must fully understand a client’s industry and business in order to bring real value to the client. This brings something into play called the value strategy, the way to gain this understanding. Value strategy is a plan of action designed to identify, generate, communicate and deliver the value that your company brings to the client.
Decision-making Needs Room for Big Data and Emotions
Few people need convincing that big data is not a phenomenon or fad. The ability to collect, track, measure, and analyze vast amounts of information to know more about your business, including sales, customer habits and trends, internal business processes, and supply chains, is too much to pass up. In fact, it’s often more than most businesses can handle. It’s not industry- or function-specific either — a quick scan of headlines across trade publications reveals that taking advantage of big data is on everyone’s mind.
Insight Selling: The Next Frontier of Sales and Marketing Alignment
If you think back five or ten years, the focus of sales and marketing alignment at that time was on the sales process. The emergence of usable CRM systems like Salesforce.com and marketing automation platforms like Eloqua and Marketo enabled tracking across the customer lifecycle from lead to close and beyond. As companies made investments in these sales and marketing platforms, it made sense to agree on a single integrated process enabled by the integrated systems and operationalized through concepts like the “lead waterfall,” marketing qualified leads, sales accepted leads, service level agreements, and the sales funnel. Many organizations are making great progress in this area, and others no doubt have a ways to go. However, from an operational standpoint, there’s been tremendous progress.
Abused Stats and Figures: Maintain a Healthy Degree of Skepticism 100% of the Time
Stats and figures help people make decisions or convince others to make a choice. Whether you’re a sales rep or a consumer, these numbers can be beneficial, but they are also easily misunderstood, misrepresented, or abused.
Uri Simonsohn, a research psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, sensed that something was amiss with several sets of research findings published in his field. Upon investigating, he discovered that the studies’ authors had taken liberties with the data and were forced to back away from their published articles. For his efforts, he was labeled a “data vigilante,” which paints a portrait (either white hat or black hat, depending on your views), but more importantly, presents us all with cautionary advice: be careful how you use and interpret data and statistics. (See the full article “The Data Vigilante” by Christopher Shea in The Atlantic from November 28, 2012.)
The article in The Atlantic offers a somber comparison between massaging data to suit your study’s needs and doping by professional athletes: “Outright fraud is probably rare. Data manipulation is undoubtedly more common—and surely extends to other subjects dependent on statistical study… Worse, sloppy statistics are ‘like steroids in baseball’: Throughout the affected fields, researchers who are too intellectually honest to use these tricks will publish less, and may perish. Meanwhile, the less fastidious flourish.” In essence, cheaters with » Continue Reading.
Richardson to Host Selling with Insights Workshop at Sales 2.0 Conference in Boston
Richardson will be the host of a selling with insights workshop at the Sales 2.0 Conference in Boston on July 15, 2014. The workshop will focus on how sales teams can leverage insights to provide value to customers and win more deals.
Richardson’s President and CEO David DiStefano and Senior Sales Training Consultant Kim Dean will host the session. They will focus on sharing best practices to help salespeople to be able to make a connection with prospective customers. Throughout the workshop, attendees will participate in sample exercises that teach sales teams how to generate and deliver insights that will create credibility and differentiate their solutions from the competition.
Avoid the Content Marketing Scrap Heap through Personalizing Insights for Prospects
The business world is being over-run by content marketing. Prospects are being overloaded with information, and e-mail response rates are in the tank. If you succeed in getting the attention of your prospect, your next challenge is to grab them with something that will keep them on the phone and engaged long enough to warrant a deeper conversation. Upon picking up the phone, inevitably, your contact’s guard is up while giving you only a portion of their attention as they wait for you to give them an opening to say, “No thanks, I’m not interested.”
9 Common Traps of Selling with Insights and How to Avoid Them – Part II
In part I of 9 Common Traps of Selling with Insights and How to Avoid Them, I introduced the first 5 traps to avoid when selling with insights. To review, they were:
Preparation Trap – Don’t be cavalier; thoroughly research the insight and target client to be ready. Paralysis-by-Analysis Trap – Research is critical, but don’t undertake PhD-level examination on the topic; once you have enough to get the dialogue going with confidence, act on it. Credibility Trap – Make sure that the insight is legitimate and that you are capable of resolving the issue or taking advantage of the opportunity. Arrogance Trap – Especially when introducing an “unknown” insight, be sure not to come across as superior and condescending; if you want the client to trust and hire you, then you need to be someone they feel comfortable with. Dialogue Trap – Following the previous point, be sure that you don’t show up to lecture the client; structure your insight in such a way that it raises points and promotes healthy discussion.
Each of the above traps may seem obvious, but following through – or more specifically, avoiding them – is often easier said than done. Here are the remaining common traps and suggestions for avoiding them.
9 Common Traps of Selling with Insights and How to Avoid Them
Selling with insights successfully should markedly separate you from your competition. This more sophisticated sales tactic goes well beyond the transactional approach (or lack of approach) of “We sell widgets; how many can I put you down for?” to one that is more meaningful and substantive to both the buyer and seller.
Big Data: How should a sales rep approach a customer with potentially sensitive data?
The availability of information provides many opportunities for sales and marketing to analyze prospects and create needs that they might not even know they have. However, sales reps must approach the conversation in a way that does not make the customer feel exposed or exploited. Join David DiStefano, President and CEO of Richardson, as he offers advice to sales reps about how to take valuable, but sensitive “big data” and present it to a client in a way that addresses their business challenges.
Sales Dialogues – Provoking Needs, Can you do this?
When engaging in a sales dialogue with a prospect or client, it is important to acknowledge their current needs before approaching them with new needs. To provoke a need, sales reps can establish credibility by sharing insights and asking questions to better understand the client.
Improve your Sales Effectiveness with Insight and Dialogue
Selling with insight is all the rage now. I get why. As Brian Fetherstonhsugh of OgilyOne has alluded, selling needs to evolve because buyer behavior has fundamentally changed. While the impact of this is felt differently and more deeply in some industries and verticals than others (context and nuance always matter), the need for most selling organizations to evolve is clear.
Why Selling is a Joke
A young executive was leaving the office late one evening when he found the CEO standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in his hand.
“Listen,” the CEO said, “this is a very sensitive and important document here, and my assistant has gone for the night. Can you make this thing work for me?”
“Certainly,” said the young executive. He turned the machine on, inserted the paper, and pressed the start button.
“Excellent, excellent!” said the CEO, as his paper disappeared inside the shredder. “I just need one copy…”
Are Your Sales Reps Taking a “Show-up and Throw-up” Approach to Sharing Insights?
Leverage our Insight Blueprint to Engineer Your Path to Success
“The antithesis of selling with insight,” as one of my colleagues so colorfully describes it, “is to show up and throw up.” This negative metaphor illustrates the tendency to join a call or meeting with a prospect (or in trying to broaden an existing relationship) and overwhelm the listeners with information about your business and capabilities, which may or may not be of interest or even relevant to the purpose of the meeting.
Dario Priolo, Chief Strategy Officer for Richardson reviews the importance of not just “presenting” insights, but actually communicating insights during the sales conversation.
Video Blog from Richardson’s CEO David DiStefano, Sales Transformation: Can you take Control of a Customer Conversation?
In this video blog post, Richardson’s CEO, David DiStefano, discusses which resources sales reps should be leveraging to successfully navigate resistance from a client.
Leveraging insight in sales calls is a very popular strategy in this age of the empowered customer. Our clients often ask us when in the sales conversation their sellers should lead with insight versus lead with questions. The simple answer to this question is, “It depends.” I’ll provide some further guidance in this post, but I suggest you start by downloading our Sales Insight Call Strategy Checklist and share it with your sales reps.