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zondag 23 februari 2014


Earn trust, then you can worry about the rest.

Insight Selling

Insight Selling

Customers are increasingly circumventing salespeople. They’re using publicly available information to diagnose their own needs and turning to sophisticated procurement departments and third-party purchasing consultants to help them extract the best possible deals from suppliers. The trend will only accelerate. For sales, this isn’t just another long, hot summer; it’s wholesale climate change.

Top-performing reps have abandoned the conventional “solution selling”  and replaced it with “insight selling”. This new sales strategy demands a fundamentally different approach across several areas of the purchasing process.

Customers are coming to the negotiating table armed with a deep understanding of their problem(s) and a well-scoped RFP for a solution. It’s turning many of our sales conversations into fulfillment conversations. Reps must learn to engage customers much earlier, well before customers fully understand their own needs.

Most organizations tell their salespeople to give priority to customers whose senior management meets three criteria:

- The customer has a need for change.
- The customer has a clear vision of its goals.
 - The customer has a well-established processes for making purchasing decisions.

These three criteria are easily observable, for the most part, and reps and their leaders habitually rely on them to predict the likelihood and progress of potential deals.

Top-performing reps place little value on such traditional predictors. Instead, they emphasize two nontraditional criteria.
- They put a premium on customer agility: Can a customer act quickly and decisively when presented with a compelling case, or is it hamstrung by structures and relationships that stifle change?
- They pursue customers that have an emerging need or are in a state of organizational flux, whether because of external pressures, such as regulatory reform, or because of internal pressures, such as a recent acquisition, a leadership turnover, or widespread dissatisfaction with current practices. Since they’re already reexamining the status quo, these customers are looking for insights and are naturally more receptive to the disruptive ideas that top- performers bring to the table.

In conventional sales training reps are taught to find an advocate, or coach, within the customer organization to help them get the deal done. They’re given a list of attributes to look for. The description below suggests that the ideal advocate:

- is accessible and willing to meet when asked
- provides valuable information that’s typically unavailable to outside suppliers
- is predisposed to support the supplier’s solution
- is good at influencing others
- speaks the truth
- is considered credible by colleagues
- conveys new ideas to colleagues in savvy, persuasive ways
- delivers on commitments
- stands to personally gain from the sale
- will help reps network and connect with other stakeholders

It turns out that this idealized advocate doesn’t actually exist. Each attribute can probably be found somewhere in a customer organization, but rarely all come together in one person. So reps find themselves settling for someone who has some of them. And when choosing an advocate most reps walk right past the very people who could help them get the deal done, the people top-performers have learned to recognize and rely on.

Customer stakeholders can be classified according to 135 attributes and perspectives.
The distinct stakeholder  profile gives the relative ability of individuals of each type to build consensus and drive action around a large corporate purchase or initiative. The profiles aren’t mutually exclusive; most people have attributes of more than one.
Every stakeholder has a primary posture when it comes to working with suppliers and spearheading organizational change.

1. Go-Getters. Motivated by organizational improvement and constantly looking for good ideas, Go-Getters champion action around great insights wherever they find them.

2. Teachers. Passionate about sharing insights, Teachers are sought out by colleagues for their input. They’re especially good at persuading others to take a specific course of action.

3. Skeptics. Wary of large, complicated projects, Skeptics push back on almost everything. Even when championing a new idea, they counsel careful, measured implementation.

4. Guides. Willing to share the organization’s latest gossip, Guides furnish information that’s typically unavailable to outsiders.

5. Friends. Just as nice as the name suggests, Friends are readily accessible and will happily help reps network with other stakeholders in the organization.

6. Climbers. Focused primarily on personal gain, Climbers back projects that will raise their own profiles, and they expect to be rewarded when those projects succeed.

7. Blockers. Perhaps better described as “anti-stakeholders,” Blockers are strongly oriented toward the status quo. They have little interest in speaking with outside vendors.

Average reps gravitate toward three stakeholder profiles, and top-performers gravitate toward three others.

Average reps typically connect with Guides, Friends, and Climbers, types that we can group together as Talkers. These people are personable and accessible and they share company information freely, all of which makes them very appealing. But if your goal is to close a deal, not just have a chat, Talkers won’t get you very far: They’re often poor at building the consensus necessary for complex purchasing decisions. Ironically, traditional sales training pushes reps into the arms of Talkers thus reinforcing the very underperformance companies seek to improve.
The profiles that top-performers pursue, Go-Getters, Teachers, and Skeptics, are far better at generating consensus. We can refer to them as Mobilizers. A conversation with a Mobilizer isn’t necessarily easy. Because Mobilizers are focused first and foremost on driving productive change for their company, that’s what they want to talk about, their company, not yours. In fact, in many ways Mobilizers are deeply supplier-agnostic. They’re less likely to get behind a particular supplier than behind a particular insight. Reps who rely on a traditional features-and-benefits sales approach will probably fail to engage Mobilizers.
Endless questioning and needs diagnosis are of no value to Mobilizers. They don’t want to be asked what keeps them awake at night; they’re looking for outside experts to share insights about what their company should do, and they’re engaged by big, disruptive ideas. Yet upon hearing those ideas, Mobilizers ask a lot of tough questions, Go-Getters because they want to do, Teachers because they want to share, and Skeptics because they want to test.

Many sales reps will ignore the commotion and stick with solution selling, and their customers will increasingly reject them. But top-performers seeking out customers that are primed for change, challenging them with provocative insights, and coaching them on how to buy, will become indispensable. They may still be selling solutions, but more broadly, they’re selling insights.

Difference between Solution Selling an Insight Selling