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Avoiding 9 Common Traps of Selling with Insights Part II

virtual selling mistakes

richardsonsalestrainingMarch 12, 2014Blog

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In part I of 9 Common Traps of Selling with Insights and How to Avoid ThemI introduced the first 5 traps to avoid when selling with insights.

To review, they were:

  1. Preparation Trap – Don’t be cavalier; thoroughly research the insight and target client to be ready.
  2. 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.
  3. Credibility Trap – Make sure that the insight is legitimate and that you are capable of resolving the issue or taking advantage of the opportunity.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Insight Objection Trap

What it is: Being unprepared to respond to and resolve objections regarding your insight. Since the insight is the critical connector between the client’s challenge and your capabilities, it makes sense to prepare for any specific objections you can anticipate. If you do not have success with your insight or cannot resolve concerns about the information, you could lose credibility and will certainly need to resort to another insight (if one is relevant) or switch your approach.

Ways to avoid it: As you develop the insight, think about possible objections that can be raised along the way. They could be obvious or seemingly unrelated, but you should prepare to respond honestly and avoid being dismissive. Show that you’ve already thought of that concern and have a viable resolution.  This shows that you’re thorough, prepared, and that you understand their business. If an unforeseen objection is raised, then respond as best as possible with the notion that you might need to get back to them to provide the best answer.

You may not always have a perfect answer, but how you respond to objections can raise your profile or knock you down.

Relevance Trap

What it is: Trying to position an insight that is not relevant to the client’s specific business situation. It can be difficult to recover from this trap once you succumb to it.

Ways to avoid it: Avoid this by examining the challenges and opportunities you’ve identified to ensure they sync with the situation you believe your client is facing. This links directly to the first trap of being sufficiently prepared. When preparing to share a sales insight, look for recent headlines from and about your target client to ensure that they haven’t already dealt with the issue or somehow announced a change of focus that might alter the impact and relevance of your insight.

Therefore, you should review the potential impacts and possible needs in light of each client. The closer the connection between the generic information and your client’s situation, the better the chance that your insight will be relevant and resonate with them.

Connection Trap

What it is: Another trap can arise when a relevant insight is positioned to the client, but it does not coherently link the client’s challenging issue or opportunity to how you can help them (your capabilities). It is important to think about the connection from both a personal and organizational level for your client. While an insight may be relevant for the client organization overall, your contact’s focus may be on a different area (e.g., an insight about stock prices may not be effective on a manufacturing-based contact).

This is similar to the Relevance Trap, but that trap is primarily about the insight. In this trap, your client is unable to see a clear connection, which is why personalization and word choice is important. Put another way, an insight focused on the importance of a marketing automation system could be perfect for the company, but pitched very differently to the heads of marketing vs. IT.

Ways to avoid it: In crafting your personalized insight message, ensure that there is a clear link between the issue or challenge (which you check at the beginning of the conversation), your insight (which you connect to the issue), and your proposed action and value (which should solve the issue). The stronger this “dotted-line connection” or “breadcrumb trail,” the more compelling and effective your insight will be.

Product Trap

What it is: Engaging in a feature or product dump. While it is important to connect the issue or opportunity to your capabilities and differentiators, they must be positioned carefully to avoid sounding like a product dump. This dialogue is about them, not about you.

Ways to avoid it: There is a difference between discussing a specific capability or the value you have delivered to others who were in a similar situation and talking about specific features and benefits. It’s certainly okay to briefly mention a product or service name in how you describe your action and value (your capability), but it is the action and the outcome that will be compelling, not facts and figures about your products. Avoid a product or feature dump, where you rattle off multiple features and benefits. Focus your conversation on the issue at hand, the relevant insight, and the corresponding capability that will address their issue.


There is no shortage of concerns to be aware of when selling with insights. But as was mentioned in the previous post, the rewards can be worth the risk. By embracing selling with insights and doing it well, you open yourself up to more substantial rewards through more sophisticated sales while elevating yourself from vendor or supplier to trusted partner in the eyes of your clients. If successful, perhaps your greatest challenge could be to avoid the dreaded “sophomore slump.” That is, when your next sales opportunity arises with an insight client, you can’t retreat back to widget sales tactics. Rather, you must be keen to look for more insights and present them in a meaningful and compelling way that builds on your earlier project and experience.

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