Not All Insights Are Created Equal—Here’s Why


Insights. It’s one of those rare industry buzzwords that may actually be worthy of the enormous hype it’s generated. There’s no question we’re seeing a wave of companies embrace the provocative selling principles of insight selling.  Corporate Visions recently polled more than 400 business-to-business marketers and sales professionals and found that 81 percent of respondents believe they’re using an insights-based approach as part of their marketing and sales strategy.

But for all the buzz it’s created, insights remains something of a murky term, with a range of meanings and understandings often attached to it. This lack of precision around the term raises some questions: What actually constitutes a powerful insight? How do you know what types of insights are most effective at differentiating your solution and defeating a prospect’s status quo?

What’s more, how do you know if you’re actually creating action or just recycling someone else’s facts and data?

Not All Insights Are Created Equal
The best insights occur when you can show an inconsistency or uncertainty in the way somebody is thinking about doing something today. Some types of insights do this better than others. So to arrive at a more precise definition of which types of insights are most effective, I’ve identified four types of insights that companies can create and deliver:

  • Anecdotal Insights: Typically created in-house, these insights focus on more tactical, day-to-day issues like best practices or lessons learned.
  • Authoritative Insights: Content based on this insight category incorporates the work of credible third-party sources like industry analysts.
  • Current Insights: This content is centered on original, company-generated research and surveys.
  • Visionary Insights: These insights leverage in-house expertise and look to the future of the industry to define what’s next.

While all these insight types can play a role in your campaign and sales enablement content, not all of them are equally effective at converting demand generation excitement into qualified pipeline. Our survey found that anecdotal insights—typically the easiest to develop—are delivered the most often, but are considered the least effective for positive selling outcomes. Ironically enough, visionary insights, which are used the least, are viewed as the most effective insights category.

As you can see, a kind of inverse logic is taking place, causing companies to rely most heavily on the types of insights that have the least impact. When it comes to creating the urgency needed to compel prospects to leave their status quo, your messaging should aim to deliver insights that belong to the more effective but less delivered categories—in other words, insights that lean toward the visionary end of the spectrum.

In my mind, visionary insights are defined by three key components:

  • Original: Primary research that you conduct, which is statistically relevant and sound.
  • Exclusive: Unique data points you glean from your research that present potentially counter-intuitive conclusions to common perceptions.
  • A forward-looking point of view or campaign story based on that research: In other words, a content-driven narrative that confronts the future implications of your data, while broaching some of the emerging issues, challenges, and trends that your findings support.

By delivering visionary insights in your campaigns and sales enablement tools, you’ll ensure that your messaging stays on the right side of the divide between creating provocative insights instead of simply passing along information. If you’re just relying on information that’s already out there, or—worse—that corroborates someone else’s current position, you’re further entrenching your prospects’ status quo situations and limiting how open they are to making a change. You also are taking a commoditized position and presenting no potential for differentiation.

To truly maximize your insights approach, build a story—a forward-looking point of view—around your own unique data points. Doing so will position you as an industry sage, helping you define the conversation and realize the pipeline impact you need.

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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.