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Insight Without Action Is Just Idle Chatter!

by David Brock on November 25th, 2013

Today, we are all trying to engage our customers with Insight.  But so much of what people think of as Insight ends up prompting no reaction from the customer.

Perhaps, they might say, “Thanks for sharing.”  Maybe you’ve gotten them more interested and they respond, “That’s interesting stuff.”  Or you’ve gotten them hot and lathered and they say, “Wow, I’ve never heard that before!”

But if we don’t produce a compelling response, “We’ve got to do something about this situation–now,”  the insight is just a nice discussion.

The purpose of our Insight is not to just to share interesting data or information with the customer, but to get them to take action and change — and to do it with us.

So this tells us that our ability to be effective in engaging our customers with Insight, we have to address several things:

We must be focused on something the customer wants to achieve-whether it’s responding to an opportunity, addressing a threat, helping them achieve a goal.

We must disrupt the customer’s current thinking, or the status quo.   We must get them to want to change, thinking that doing nothing is unacceptable.

We must personalize the Insight to the customer–both the impact on their current state and what they want to achieve.  We have to address the issue of, “This is what this means to you–your business and you personally.”

We must focus our Insight around problems that we are the best in the world at solving.  Otherwise, we open the possibility our customers will take the Insight and execute with someone else.

Many are struggling with executing with Insight.  They get one part of it–usually it’s the “new news” part.  As sales people we are pretty good at this, we’ve always talked about how great things might be–whether it’s with our products, solutions, or now, Insight.  Our marketing organizations are getting on board, as well, crafting great messaging around our Insights–driving interest and demand in the markets.

It’s the other three elements we struggle the most with.

Disrupting the status quo, getting the customer to commit do change is tough.  It’s so much easier to do nothing.  It’s so much easier to say, “We need look into this more deeply next year.”  There’s so much data showing the increase in “No decision made,”  (Well actually the decision has been to do nothing.)  Yet we focus on the new-news, and are uncomfortable with creating discomfort with the customer.  I’ve written about creating pain and disrupting the customer.  Many have commented on the negativity of this, suggesting the focus be more on the positive outcomes of the future.  I get it, our customers get it, yet until we create that discomfort, there is no reason to change.  the difference, in moving from OK to better, versus, “this isn’t working for us, we need to do something about it,” is profound.

Coupled with this, the customer needs to know specifically what it means to her.  “How will we (I) improve? By how much?  How long?  What are the risks–to the organization and me?”  The fact that other have seen results from our Insights mean little to the customer.  To get them to want to take action and change, they need to know specifically what it means to them and how they will achieve the outcomes promised in the Insight.

Then they need to do it with us–not someone else.

Too much of the discussion I see around Insight focuses on the new, the hot, the sexy.  It’s natural, because that’s what we and our marketing organizations have always done, we just have a new focus.  But without the other three elements, we risk having great conversations, getting a lot of interest–but in the end just having idel chatter.

Make sure you are creating and delivering real Insight that produces new outcomes to which the customer commits.

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2 Comments
  1. Brian MacIver permalink

    I wrote this to Tamara Schenk, when she curated this blog:

    “This is just so true.

    It is particularly true with Marketing ‘developed’ insights which Salespeople have to ‘deliver’.

    Insights MUST be constructed, Salespeople MUST be involved.

    Insights should be part of the Sales Strategy.

    The hierarchy of desired Customer ‘reaction’ is DISAGREEMENT, this has a near 100% chance
    of Customer Engagement.

    AGREEMENT has about a 20% chance of Customer Engagement, you told them something they knew!

    NO REACTION, is 100% ineffective
    at Customer Engagement!

    I add that I agree with your use of Opportunity or Threat,
    and that great insights are often mundane,
    but VERY RELEVANT to the person you are sharing with!

    Great Blog, thanks Dave.

    • As always Brian, your comments add so much more. I think the notion of constructing Insight, just as we construct value is very important. Too often, we mistake Insight as the “pitch” that marketing gives us. But Constructing Insight is the process of engaging our customers, braking down what they currently do and rebuilding for the future.

      Thanks so much!

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