While it may be a new concept to you and many in the staffing industry, insight selling has been around for years and has been deployed by sales professionals in other industries including enterprise software, financial services and systems integration. Perhaps you have heard the terms "selling with insights, "challenger sale," "provocative selling," and others. Either way, they all essentially imply the same thing which is sellers sharing relevant insights with with their prospects to position themselves as a thought leader in order to quickly establish trust and credibility and move deals forward in a way in which traditional sales techniques cannot. The act of executing Insight selling supports and aligns with a consultative sales approach.
How Did Insight Selling Came About?
Over the past century the sales profession has been transformed through a multitude of inflection points. An inflection point can be defined as a point in time for either opportunity or failure. Looking back on the history of the sales profession there have been two major inflection points. The first inflection point occurred when Dale Carnegie opened his sales training courses in 1912 and released his best selling book, How To Win Friends & Influence People in 1936.
The second inflection point occurred with the sales research study performed by Huthwaite International, better known as SPIN Selling. In short, this research concluded that customers were more interested in having their problems solved and achieving business results than they were in simply learning about and purchasing features and benefits. This led to the solution selling revolution that took hold in the late 90’s and early 2000’s and still bears weight today.
The third inflection point and the one that we face today is different because it is customer driven. Today’s customers wish to engage sales professionals differently than they have in the past. Buyers no longer want to be informed about your products or services or engage in “solution” dialog . They can read about that stuff on your web site. They can research you and your competitors and obtain proof points, and value propositions all without ever speaking with a sales person. In short, today’s customer has more access and power than they had in the past. They have access to information. What they don’t have access to however is your ideas and insights.
Because of the internet, today’s informed buyers have a lot of information to sift through and options to consider but they don’t necessarily have more wisdom or confidence in the decisions they must make. They need salespeople like you-to share your perspective, fresh ideas and insights to help them think ideas through.
What is Insight Selling?
An “insight” is a relevant and compelling viewpoint, experience or expertise that when shared with a prospect or customer offers them a new way of viewing their world and causes them to reexamine existing beliefs and conventions and compels them to challenge their assumptions and the status quo. An insight could also be an observation (by the salesperson) that when shared, results in the prospect or customer seeing things from a fresh perspective. An "insight" could also be market research or a data point that when shared with a customer helps them see things differently and affords them opportunity to consider options that were otherwise not previously available to them.
More simply put, insights and insight selling is all about salespeople creating “aha moments,” for their customers through a simple realization, of "connect the dots connection." This approach, especially early in the buyer journey when salespeople are prospecting is very effective.
Insight Selling Tips
For insight selling to work, sellers first must conduct sufficient upfront research and pre-call planning. Specifically, salespeople must research and understand the latest trigger events regarding their prospects business and possess a keen understanding of the risks, opportunities and threats relative to their customer's business or IT projects in order to offer relevant insights. For sales professionals who don't possess functional domain expertise, or business acumen, and don't already follow a consultative sales methodology, they will likely struggle with insight selling. But that doesn't mean those sellers can't learn the necessary skills. With insight selling and consultative selling training, any seller can learn to apply insight selling.
Creating an “Aha Moment” is not exactly easy for salespeople. First, you have to conduct the research and possess the relative data, second you have a perspective, original thought or point of view (a real insight) that when shared, will shift the prospect's thinking and perspective. And finally, you have to be able to share your insight in such a way that that your prospect makes the connect back to their business problem or goal.
Insight selling is a fantastic way for kick-starting conversations with new prospects and helping those prospects become aware of issues they didn't even know they had. Insight selling is also a great way for sellers to get buyers to consider initiatives and solutions that weren't previously on their radar. The real skill though in successfully executing insight selling lies within the sellers ability to produce those "aha" moments and connect (for the buyer) the goal or problem with their solution.
About Dan Fisher
Dan Fisher is founder and owner of Menemsha Group, a provider of sales enablement solutions dedicated to helping IT staffing firms improve win rates, shorten their sales cycle, and increase revenue per sales rep. Since launching Menemsha Group in 2008, Dan has consulted with over 200 IT staffing firms and has invested over 5000 hours coaching IT staffing sales reps. He’s authored is his own proprietary sales methodology and has previously spoken at Staffing World, TechServe Alliance and Bullhorn Live 2012. Prior to launching Menemsha Group, Dan spent 16 years in the IT industry running local, regional and national sales teams. Dan worked for Kelly Services, Oracle Corporation and Alliance Consulting. Dan currently resides in Boston, Ma.