Insight selling never stops.
For those of you who don’t know, in its most basic form, insight selling means self-education so you can better serve your buyer.
But self-education takes time, which we in sales never seem to have enough of. Unfortunately, you can’t truly understand your buyer and gain their mindshare, unless you provide new ideas that truly push him or her to think differently.
Salespeople No Longer Hold All The Answers
Data from Forrester helps reinforce what we already know: buyers are looking for you to provide a road map from problem to nirvana, and present best practices to mitigating risk and cost along the journey.
Please understand that a buyer is conducting due diligence without you; gathering information from Google, competitors, industry analysts and peers. When you interact with a buyer on the phone, email, voicemail, conference call and in person, you need proof of your claims. You need to validate the data, facts and outcomes you’re claiming to be true against competitors, benchmarking against industry best practices.
Your buyer is looking for this level of transparency and agnostic approach from you. In other words, you no longer hold all the answers buyers are looking for!
So how do you begin the education process? Let’s go through how you can acquire and deliver the right insights to meet buyers where they are in their journey and push them off the status quo.
Many of us have heard of using Google Alerts to monitor insights on competitors, target accounts or even specific people. But I want to focus on other content assets such as blogs, eBooks, infographics and videos. Your options for acquiring insights fall into two categories:
- Internally-driven insights
- Externally-captured insights
The goal here is for marketing to create a visually-rich library that any sales professional can access, and when he or she does access the library, it’s super simple and intuitive to answer the following questions:
- What insights are available for my specific Buyer Persona?
- Within that Buyer Persona, my buyer is at X stage of their buying journey, what’s valuable for them now?
- Of these very specific insights, perfect for that Buyer Persona, at that particular stage of their buying journey, what type of assets most resonate with my buyer? Blogs, ebooks, video?
If your team doesn’t have an internal content library that’s robust enough to showcase your content, I recommend you start externally-capturing insights.
Hint: The best mix is to actually use a bit of your own marketing content with third-party insights.
These are insights that are not created by your organization. While they won’t necessarily drive inbound-leads into your sales funnel (because they lack a marketing-driven call to action), you will be able to gather extremely relevant insights for very specific situations.
To start capturing externally-facing insights, first find a free Content Aggregation tool that you prefer. I personally like Feed.ly, but some of you might use Flipboard or Buffer. These tools allow you to tag blog sites from any company, analyst and industry organization that you feel creates highly valuable content for your buyer.
The best blogs you want to harness are the blogs your buyers are most commonly reading today. You can find this information using these tools’ keyword searches or a quick Google search for “Top Blog in X industry.” As an example, here is a sample list of blogs saved in my Feed.ly account under my “Social Selling” category:
Your Content Aggregator allows you to segment blog sites by categories, which in turn, allows you to have blogs for multiple Buyer Personas or hot topics in your industry. The tools are the vessel of information, but it’s your job to ignite your own flame by reading these insights consistently, so you can deliver these new ideas to a buyer.
As a general rule for myself, I spend 10–15 minutes each morning as I’m eating breakfast to find valuable insights that I think will be great to share socially, or shared privately to a specific buyer, based on a conversation that we’ve had.
While your Social Aggregator is a content vessel, it many times resembles a dumping ground, rather than a highly organized machine. That’s why tools like Feed.ly integrate nicely with content organizing tools such as Evernote or Pocket. These tools are meant for you to extract and tag the articles that you’ll reuse over and over for conversations, and save these articles into categories for simple organization.
As you start leveraging these tools, you’ll begin to ask yourself: “What is the best tagging system to keep the articles highly relevant when I’m searching?”
We use three simple categories: Why, How and Who.
Your Buyer’s Journey, and your sales process for that matter, can be carved into three fundamental questions that a buyer asks themselves along their journey:
- Why do I have a problem?
- How do I solve that problem?
- Who do I choose to help solve my problem?
Within your Content Aggregator tool like Feed.ly, you create these three foundations tabs (Why, How, Who), and tag each article you save with one of these labels. You can add additional layers of granularity if you have many articles saved, and need to be hyper specific. You can create additional tags for Buyer Personas (CFO, CIO, CMO), so now your insights are searchable by Buyer Journey stage and persona. The better you organize these insights, the more likely you’ll spend time ingesting the knowledge and saving these nuggets of gold for future sales conversations.
The only way sharing insights will become habitual, and ultimately, valuable for your buyer is if you deliver insights on LinkedIn and/or Twitter on a daily basis. The average LinkedIn users are only on the platform for a few hours a week, so you must create exposure with a minimum viable omnipresence.
Even at one article posted per day, the probability that a buyer noticed the article you shared is quite low. This is why content distribution tools, such as Hootsuite, should be used only after you see value in sharing insights manually. Be sure to engage with anyone who comments on your posts, even if they're not a buyer, as it helps increase your visibility to potential buyers.
On an individual basis, you can leverage tools such as Hootsuite (or its Google Chrome extension Hootlet) to accelerate your sharing process. I personally use Hootlet as I can click to share content right from the articles website, and Hootlet allows me to customize my social messaging, and schedule the article for future sharing times. With minimal effort, I amplify my exposure to a completely different magnitude. I’m a true believer in Grant Cardone’s “10X Rule” concept around omnipresence, and that you must “burst through obscurity.” I recommend that you share a minimum of three insights per day:
- Before 9 a.m. when your buyers start their day.
- 12 p.m.– 1 p.m., during your buyers’ lunch period.
- After 5 p.m. when your buyers are finishing work.
- Also, Sunday evenings are perfect as your buyers are preparing their new week in a relaxed, highly-focused, but digestive mindset from their home office.
I particularly recommend sharing insights socially from the Why category. Create inception, be first, and capture a buyers mindshare when they’re first formulating problems in their mind. Why- and early How-based insights are best for social sharing as they also help “fish with a net.”
Late How- or Who-based insights are meant for contextual, one-to-one discussions with the buyer; this is “fishing with a spear”. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your company’s case studies, Who-type insights, are going to move your buyers off his or her status quo to purchase.
Insight is the key to sparking conversation with buyers. Show your buyers the opportunity cost of their status quo and the consequences of inaction. Your insights become both your building blocks to a trusted brand, and your knowledge-bombing weapon.