One of the disturbing trends and, I’m certain, unintended consequences of people looking at the Challenger Sale, is that we aren’t really providing insight or creating distinctive value. In speaking with people about what they are doing, too often it focuses on story or the pitch. Insight and value creation are different than a provocative presentation. Insight and value creation are unique to the customer.
I’m a great fan of the concepts put forth in the Challenger Sale. As too often happens, with great ideas, they become co-0pted to mediocrity. People take shortcuts in understanding and implementation, not really understanding what needs to be done. I’m seeing much of this happening with organizations that truly don’t understand insight and value creation.
Marketing and sales organizations constantly look to “teach” their customers. They seek provocative ideas, things that interest the customer and catch their attention. They equip the sales people with new tools to “challenge” the customer. But too often, all they’ve done is elevated the “pitch.” I’ve sat with clients on the receiving end of these “pitches.” Too often, I feel we (the customer are irrelevant), that the pitch was designed for “Dear Occupant or Current Resident. I understand your [insert name] business and want to provide you insight.”
The insight our customer seek is not generic ideas. Generic ideas are a dime a dozen. Customers are looking for insight about THEIR businesses. They want to understand things they can to to improve and grow. They want to understand opportunities they may be missing, they want to learn new things. But insight that creates real value for the customer is about their business. It’s specific to them, not generic–something that can apply to their competitors and others.
Insight and value creation are closely intertwined. They speak to unique challenges to the customer and present opportunities, specific to the customer. They speak to things the customer might do–providing a unique road map for the customer. They help the customer understand the barriers, risks, challenges to achieving the goals. They speak to value specific to the customer–what results will they get.
To provide insight and create value, we have to invest in our customers. That’s our CUSTOMERs. The individuals and the companies they work for. We have to understand what they are trying to achieve, we have to understand their businesses, we have to know how their companies and markets work. We have to see unique opportunities—areas they may be missing, areas in which they may, unwittingly, be underperforming, opportunities they may be blind to.
This insight is not just identification of problems or opportunities, but the insight also provides a vision of the solution–what needs to be done, how, the risks, the value, and—–what we do in helping them achieve the goals.
We see opportunities for our customers and markets. We provide solutions to help them address those opportunities. Our marketing programs create awareness and visibility of what we do. But our competitors are doing the same. They see opportunities, they provide ideas. These are great starting points. They are the stuff of campaigns.
But our customers want much more. They care about themselves and their business. They don’t care about our generic and provocative pitches, however interesting they may be. They constantly ask, “What’s in it for me?” Until we translate our ideas into insight and unique value, we aren’t providing the leadership they crave, we aren’t differentiating ourselves, and we aren’t creating value.
Ideas are great, insight produces results. Are you providing your customers insight or ideas?