Insights-based Selling: Everybody’s Doing It…Or Are They?

By Corporate Visions

November 17, 2015

The traditional approach to insight selling is becoming commoditized. Here’s how to break the cycle of “true but useless” information.

Insights are everywhere—at least, that’s the impression in the market. According to a recent Corporate Visions survey, 81 percent of companies say they use an insights-based approach to selling.

But are they actually?

Selling with insights has won such an enthusiastic following so fast that its sheer popularity has outstripped the market’s ability to define it. This has led to various standards—some rigorous, others lax—about what it takes to qualify as an insights provider today.

But, regardless of how companies internally define what insights-based selling is, and regardless of the quality of insights they’re actually delivering, you can bet on this: The approach has been roundly embraced as a key element of provocative selling. In other words, insights, rigorously developed or not, are saturating the market.

So what are you doing to make sure yours get noticed?

insight selling ideas

We’ve talked here and here about four different types of insights—and how not all of them are created equal. Some are simply better than others at revealing deficiencies or missed opportunities in a prospect’s current situation. Some are better than others at opening customers up to persuasion and activating buying intent.

In our survey, respondents deemed “anecdotal” insights (think in-house, tactical, best practices-focused content) to be the least effective in terms of achieving positive selling outcomes. Ironically, respondents said this insight type appeared most often in their campaigns and sales-facing content.

On the other hand, the survey revealed that so-called “visionary” insights, based on original, company-generated research and forward-looking market interpretations, were viewed as the most effective insight type, but were used the least of the four categories.

To be truly visionary, your insights-based message and content must be:

  • Original – Carry out primary research or market surveys to uncover market-related data. Ensure that they’re statistically relevant and sound.
  • Exclusive – Generate data points that are unique to you and that you can use as the foundation for developing counterintuitive insights about emerging trends in your market. You can then use insights, which you own, to carve out distinct positioning for your products.
  • Forward-looking – Develop a content-driven narrative on both sides of the lead handoff that asserts a distinct point of view—a perspective that shapes the conversation and leverages your findings to deliver unique interpretations of emerging issues, challenges, and trends.

With insights so pervasive, the bar for qualifying as a credible insights provider is rising, and the traditional “insights” selling model of recycling third party analyst figures, re-packaging the findings and laying claim to the concepts is only going to commoditize your message—because your competitors all have access to the same information as you.

That approach doesn’t deliver insights. It delivers true but ultimately useless information. Well-thumbed analyst reports and established information won’t have the impact on more discerning prospects and customers, who are going to start demanding more rigor behind insights generation. As a result of this shift, companies are going to need to take a more edgy, counterintuitive stance, supported by original, research-based rigor—otherwise, you may only find yourself posing as an insights provider.

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