Insights: Four Types, Four Takeaways

What better way to kick off a marketing and sales conference than with a workshop on insight selling examples?

What is one of the more misunderstood buzzwords of recent years? Yep, we’re talking about insights.

There’s a broad consensus among marketers and salespeople that insights are good; less clear is what actually makes for a good insight.

The rising popularity of insights-based selling has overshadowed that second part: What actually constitutes a good insight? What insights compel prospects and customers to take action? What makes them consider doing something new?

To get more precise about insights, Tim Riesterer, chief strategy and marketing officer at Corporate Visions, broke down insight selling examples on Monday afternoon into four discrete categories:

  • Anecdotal — Typically created in-house, these insights deal with tactical, day-to-day issues like best practices or lessons learned.
  • Authoritative — Insights in this category incorporate the work of credible third-party sources like industry analysts.
  • Current — These insights are founded on original, company-generated research and surveys.
  • Visionary — These insights take in-house, original research a step further by trying to define what’s next.

With these insight categories as the conversational backdrop, here are four takeaways from Tim’s insights workshop to keep in mind:

  • Eighty-one percent of companies say they use an insights-based approach, according to Corporate Visions research. Considering the commoditization of this approach, companies need to be thinking about what they can do to guarantee their insights aren’t causing them to sound like their competitors.
  • According to a Corporate Visions survey, “anecdotal” insights appear more often in demand generation and sales enablement assets than any other insight category. Respondents, however, deemed these insights the least effective type for influencing positive selling outcomes.
  • Conversely, “visionary” insights, which according to the survey appear the least in marketing and sales content, are considered the most effective insight type for influencing buying decisions.
  • The most influential insights tell prospects something they don’t know about a problem or missed opportunity they didn’t know they had. This is called messaging to your prospects’ “unconsidered needs.” An insight in this vein is based on three components:
    1. A surprising data point
    2. A disruptive perspective
    3. A provocative question

Great insights will reveal an inconsistency or uncertainty in the way a prospect’s doing something today. The more your insights tend to the “visionary” end of the continuum—i.e. the less used but most impactful—the better you’ll be at creating a distinct point of view and defeating the status quo.

Want to explore insight sales further? Check out everything we’ve got on the insight sales methodology below. 


Tim Riesterer

Tim Riesterer

Chief Strategy Officer

Tim Riesterer has dedicated his career to improving the conversations marketers and salespeople have with prospects and customers. His books, “Customer Message Management”, “Conversations that Win the Complex Sale”, “Three Value Conversations”, and "The Expansion Sale", focus on improving market-ready messages and tools that marketers and salespeople can use to win more deals. As chief strategy and research officer for Corporate Visions, he sets the direction and develops products for this leading marketing and sales messaging, content and training company.

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