This is a guest post by Alexandra Chiou of the Sales Executive Council, our sister program for heads of sales. We wanted to share for two reasons: 1) it shows the types of insights that sales folks can share with customers to help close business, and 2) sales folks sell insights to customers just like we have to sell the insights to our business partners. It’s always nice to find the similarities between our jobs and those of our business partners!
We know that your best sellers succeed by teaching customers something new about their business. But what sales messages are your sellers sharing with customers and prospects? And how do you know when you have an insight versus a catchy but fleeting idea?
Our most recent findings from this year’s new research study (which SEC members can access here) reveal that many companies struggle to discern thought leadership from true insight. They often arm their sellers with newsworthy sales messages that grab customer attention but have little lasting impact, and alone are insufficient to create a sense of urgency that translates to customer action.
While we all know and agree that insights are the key to successful selling in a complex environment, companies struggle to generate commercial insights and to know what good insight should look like.
So what exactly is insight anyway? This year’s new SEC research reveals the key ingredients and a basic definition of commercial insight. We think of it as having a few key components. The first component is:
- Be credible/relevant – Demonstrate an understanding of the customer’s world, substantiating claims with real-world evidence. (MREB members, see how Volvo’s research team coordinates with sales and marketing to uncover the appropriate topic to investigate)
While every insight must have this baseline requirement, it alone is insufficient—you’ll merely have a catchy idea that probably won’t stick. And that is thought leadership in a nutshell – food for thought, but unless it really reframes customers’ current thinking, they will most likely move on to the next new and shiny thing they see. That’s where the next two differentiators come into the picture:
- Be frame-breaking – Disrupt the customer’s current logic, revealing an underappreciated aspect of the customer’s environment or a flawed assumption.
- Lead back to your unique strengths – Refer customers specifically to areas where you outperform competitors. (MREB members, see how Condé Nast generates effective teaching to support multiple years of sales activity)
This last component, while not important to the customer, is especially important for you as the supplier. If your commercial message meets the first two criteria, but it doesn’t lead back to you, you have just done some free consulting that may benefit your competitors—you have a sharp message, but it’s not commercially viable for you.
- Challenge Convention like your Best Sales Reps Do
- Teaching your Sellers to Teach
- Setting up a Shopper Insights Shop
Related Member Resources: