sales leaders and the age of insights is here

After training nearly 100K sales professionals worldwide, one thing is plainly obvious:  the majority of us aren’t educating with insights but informing with information.

There is a big difference that needs to be explored between these two concepts.

Information is pretty, packaged, ready-made, out of box, handy and understandable. Insights aren’t.

Insights are powered by critical thinking and the sales professional’s ability to go deep into the subject at hand, married with a customer’s business goals, delivered in a curated fashion that articulates the business objective.

I’d argue information helps a little whereas insights help a lot.

Marketing departments are working overtime to produce lots of information for sales teams.  There’s information for top of the funnel, information to nurture prospects, and so on.  But the investment into critical thinking is missing.

Sales has some of the brightest minds in the world. I’ve seen it first-hand; full of hungry go-getters who are committed to bringing about a change.  But the lack of investment into developing their critical thinking is dangerous, stupid, and dare I say arrogant.

I see the value in automating or systematizing insights delivery, but at what cost?

As the world rampages towards greater digitization, how can we not empower our sales teams with insights? Informing with information has been the foundation of most sales pitches for a long time.

Here’s a brute description of the evolution of sales in a nutshell. It goes a little something like this.

  1. I make a product. Do you want it?
  2. This is my product; this is how it can help.
  3. Tell me about your problems and I’ll tell you how my product can help.

While the latter is an incredible and generous way to approach buyers, access to digital insights is helping buyers understand potential issues far before they come to the fore. That means that buyers are savvier. And this is what our sellers need to contend with.

They need to be selling alongside educating. The two aren’t mutually exclusive anymore.  Of course, we need sellers to manage sales cycles and execute sales plays. But a critical thinking factor is also to educate buyers that aren’t yet ready or may not realize that they’re losing out on something.

How Do We Get Insights and Deliver Them?

Firstly, getting insights doesn’t need to be complicated. Put yourself in the shoes of a buyer. Ask yourself or others like them what makes them tick. What’s moving their needle?

Secondly, are you taking the time to educate buyers without expecting anything in return? Sure, marketing can do this. But is it doing so? And are you going to wait around for them?

Fundamentally, every seller should be educating people in accounts. At the minimum this demonstrates a willingness to inform but also to share insights about the market and the buyer’s business.

What enables all of this fancy talk?

It’s the belief from sales leaders that education is worth it. Until that happens, sales will continue to deliver information, not deep thinking or critical insights.

The Bottom Line

Many would argue that we’re no longer in the Information Age but have entered The Age of Insights. This means that it’s not access to information that’s the problem – the internet solved that little problem ages ago.

So, the opportunity for sellers now is to make sense of the gobs of information available.  It’s to provide a narrative and unpack it in a way that the buyer may not be aware of.

Does this take a little more time? Yes, absolutely.

Does it guarantee a positive sales outcome? The data says it does.  Studies from Forrester, for example, illustrate that people become buyers when educated with insights.

Does it happen immediately? Probably not.

Sales leaders, just ask yourself if you’d buy from the approach used by your sellers. Chances are you wouldn’t. It’s not that your sellers aren’t good people or have good intentions, but rather that their outreach is (largely) devoid of insights and education.

Curious to know what you can do to deliver insights? Or, do you just disagree and want to tell me about it? You can do that by connecting with me on LinkedIn here.

Amar Sheth

Author: Amar Sheth

Amar Sheth has trained thousands of people worldwide on the topic of Social Selling, through a style that’s part storytelling and part motivational.

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