What is Insight Selling?
Insight selling is an advanced-level skill where sellers are able to connect their capabilities to a customer’s high-level business issues by identifying potential blind spots in the customer’s thoughts or strategy to create value for the buyer.
How Selling With Insights Differentiates Sellers
There is no doubt that using insights during the sales process 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: buyers are more informed, have increasing demands, and set higher expectations.
The strategic use of insights at the right time and in the right way can truly help a seller to differentiate themselves, drive business outcome-based discussions, and create a sense of urgency in the buyer.
Sellers can do this by encouraging 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 they deliver. 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, the insight-selling method is 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.
Insights must be strategically included in a comprehensive, customer-focused selling methodology and seen as one tool in the sales toolkit rather than the entire toolkit itself. Organizations that successfully adopted an Insight-Selling approach did so because they were aware of the risks and were proactive in managing them.
Risks of Selling with Insights and How to Manage Them
The following examples outline the potential risks your team can encounter during the insight-selling process:
- Ignoring the rest of 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’s not about manipulating or controlling the customer. It’s about building credibility, fostering trust, creating value for the customer, and, in turn, creating opportunities for you as the seller.
- Falling for insight traps — Insight traps include taking action based on assumptions without first validating those assumptions with the buyer, losing objectivity during the dialogue, insight dumping — or sharing too many insights without pausing to get the buyer’s feedback — and losing credibility by coming across as manipulative or pushy.
- Focusing on what has changed and forgetting what hasn’t — What hasn’t changed in the buying and selling landscape is just as important as what has changed. While buyers are savvy, busy, pressured, risk-averse, and more demanding, they still need guidance to make the best business and personal decisions. Even though customers have unprecedented access to knowledge, they face the difficulty of sorting through what matters most and finding the value among all options. More information doesn’t always translate into accurate, clearer understanding; they still need sellers to accurately diagnose their unique situation and identify the best solution to make an informed buying decision that drives the results that they need.
Benefits of Selling With Insights
Those who are at the pinnacle of selling draw from both mastery of the fundamentals of great consultative selling (asking great questions, connecting solutions to needs, positioning value, etc.) while layering on higher-order consultative skills, such as strategically using insights. To them, it’s all connected — skills, substance, and integrity. They use all of the tools in the toolbox and know which ones to use when. They create value in the buying experience by using insight to help the customer validate, clarify, broaden, and deepen their thinking around the true nature of a business issue or how best to address it in order to reach their goals and objectives.
Video: Learning to Sell With Insights
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