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Insight, Change, And Value

by David Brock on July 15th, 2013

I’ve been writing a lot about Insight recently.  In the course of the posts, I’ve gotten really outstanding and intriguing comments, both privately and publicly.

Clearly Insight is important—it always has been, always will be.  What we label as Insight may have evolved.  We may have taught customers about products—we still do need to teach them about products, whether it’s sales people or through content we create.  We may have taught them about solutions to problems they have had.  We may have taught them about new ways to run their business, new opportunities, how they might improve.

Those are all various forms of Insight that have been around for decades, if not millenniums.  All have their place, depending on where the customer is in their own thinking.  All must be leveraged to help the customer achieve their goals, and so we may achieve our goals.

We have to be careful about Insight.  Not everyone perceives the same thing as Insight–what is Insight for some, “wow, I’ve never thought of it that way before.”  It may just be interesting information to others, “thank you for sharing but we have more important issues to deal with for the time being.” Or even useless SPAM to others, “you don’t know anything about me, stop wasting my time!”

So perhaps for Insight to be Insight, it has to have value to the customer.  It has to help them achieve something important to them, as part of their company, job, or personal performance.  Hmmmm, here’s that value thing popping up again.  I’ll come back to that.

I think there is tremendous value to all the excitement and some of the hyperbole around Insight.  It has reignited conversations sales professionals should be having, but haven’t.  It’s refocussing us on our customers and how we sell.   It’s refocusing us on value, though we don’t talk explicitly about that very much.

Let me move on.

We are taught to teach and to help our customers “unlearn.”  But this is nice language about change.  And isn’t that what sales has always been about?  Isn’t it about getting the customer to change, to do something different, perhaps to do more. to change vendors?  (I suppose, in renewing contracts, it may be about keeping doing the same thing, but for the moment, I’ll put that do the side).

We know we have to get our customer to want to change–to see the need to change as their highest priority.  We have to make the “pain of not changing greater than the pain of change.” (Thanks Brent and Matt)  One of the primary reasons we fail in our sales efforts, why “no decision made” is becoming so prevalent, is we don’t overcome current inertia.  We haven’t created the reasons or the incentive, we haven’t helped them assess and balance the risks.  Here’s that value thing creeping in again.   If we don’t build enough value, the customer won’t change.

It really is all about value!

We keep coming back to that.  Whether it’s about Insight or Change.  Whether it’s about helping customers solve a problem, satisfying a need, presenting a solution, our success is about building value with the customer.

We wrap all sorts of stuff around this concept, sometimes so much so that we make things about the methods and techniques.  We talk about Insight, forgetting that it helps the customers and us focus on defining and developing value.  Or we may talk about solutions, or problem solving, or finding the pain, or determining needs.  These are just methods to help us and our customers in defining, developing, building and delivering value.

All of this is helpful–to us and to our customers.  They help us look at things differently.  We and our customers may see things we haven’t seen before.  We learn new things–both we and our customers, which impact the value we can build with each other.  Insight has focused us on latent or unrecognized needs/problems/challenges.  Other methods enable us to approach similar issues in different ways.  They enrich our abilities to help the customer in building value.

Or we can just focus on Value Creation:

  1. What do our customers value?  (Sometimes they don’t know how to articulate it or it may be unconscious)
  2. What do we do, both with our products and services, and in the way we work with our customers that creates value for the customer?
  3. How do we co-create or build value for our customer?
  4. Is it superior and differentiated to every other alternative they have—including doing nothing, or spending time focusing on something else? 
  5. Does the customer own it as their own?

It’s really not much more complicated than that.



From → Innovation

  1. Dave;

    During the past several weeks, you have written a definitive treatise (or at least the framework for one) on the the subjects of insight selling, customer alignment, co-creation, value selling and much more. For TODAY’s sales and marketing world.

    I know there is more to come, it is much appreciated.

    Gerhard Gschwandtner recently wrote an article entitled “How Many Sales People Will Be Left by 2020?” In it he cites Gartner research to conclude that by 2020 the number of sales people in the US will decline from 18M to 4M…due to the increase in computerized interactions between buyers and sellers.

    Trying to get my mind around the implications of that. However, in our world of complex, high-value, business impacting sales I am sure of one thing. Sales professionals who adopt the principles you articulate will be alive, well, vigorous and in high demand. Those who don’t, who cling to the just good enough of product selling and responding to demand, will be remembered in history books and museums.


    • Jim: Thanks for the overly kind compliment, I really appreciate it.

      I wrestle with the figures that Gerhard cites. Clearly so much is moving to web based transactions, we’ve already seen tremendous shifts in B2C and in the very nature of retailing. “Big box” stores are struggling.

      However, when it comes to complex B2B sales, while the information available on the web will become richer, I still see huge roles for the sales person. I think much of what we see as the role of a salesperson now will change dramatically. We’ve already seen the role of the sales person as educator about a company’s products is disappearing. So if we talk about traditional views of selling, those jobs are becoming extinct. If we look at the evolved role of selling, we will see the dividing lines between sales and marketing disappear, so sales people will be doing more marketing and vice versa. We will still see the “last mile” be a huge issue and sales people fill that role. We will see sales people becoming more resource managers and project managers. I frankly don’t see the number of people needed in complex B2B sales decreasing a whole lot, but I see the definition of their jobs changing.

      Taken another way, there will always be people in the organization responsible for revenue generation. Today we call them sales people, tomorrow, they will have entirely new sets of skills and may be called something else.

      Thanks, as always, for your great comment.

  2. Hi Dave, enjoyed the post, back to value again. Had a session with 130 B2B sales people last week and a key message coming from the floor was to justify with numbers (value) and compel with emotion. Interesting the same group (all from Europe) felt they were missing information on the buyers process, the buyers justification to buy (Value) and the cross functional buying teams they were selling to. I guess the level of information the sales person has on these three areas has an impact on the insights they provide during the sales process. Have a good evening from a warm and sunny Dublin for a change!!!

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