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“Dear Occupant, I Have Insight For Your Business”

by David Brock on May 29th, 2012

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?

  1. David, great post. We’ve continued to refine our understanding of what good “insight” truly is. More commonly we see “accepted information” and even occassionally “thought leadership” at the center of pitches, but not insights relevant to the customer business (which highlight the supplier’s unique positioning in the market). This blog post details some of those evolving viewpoints and your readers might find it helpful.

  2. Duane Burman permalink

    Dave, your sharing in this piece reminded me that it is essential that we must 1st get our Clients/Prospects to TRUST US—in order for them to be inclined to invest the effort to share, clarify, validate their NEEDS in a partnering-like exercise with us. I have found great success in asking key Decision Makers “What their personal Report Cards looked like?”; and then tying their “Grades” back to organizational achievements that I can help them with—or if I cannot within my resources; I provide them with key players from my extensive, “reliable & tested” network that I know can meet their needs. I have taken some real heat from some of my (pipeline-focused) superiors; but in most cases those investments later resulted in sales by me or my teams; and occasionally referrals to others I never would have gotten to sell without taking the gamble!

    • Duane, you make so many important points! Trust is the foundation of all relationships–internal, external. Understanding how our customer are measured is such a simple idea, but very few people ask this, then develop value propositions to support it. Thanks for the great comment.

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