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19 Insight Selling Mistakes to Avoid

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Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

Like anything, insight selling comes with its own potential pitfalls. To help you avoid them, we have outlined the most common insight selling mistakes. Some points are tactical, and others strategic.

Download: Your Guide to Insight Selling Success.

Insight Selling Mistakes
  1. Treating insight selling as a tactic rather than a pursuit: Some sellers think that if you share content and antagonize buyers, you are employing insight selling. Insight selling is not about doing one thing or another; it is about you providing value throughout the entire sales process.

  2. Not embracing the mindset of seller as a change agent: If sellers are just part of the status quo and are not pushing buyers to step outside of the box, they're probably not selling anywhere near their potential. Insight sellers must embrace their role of change agent and push buyers out of their comfort zone.

  3. Being arrogant or meek: Many buyers report that sellers are pushing too far, too hard, and too fast. On the other end of the spectrum, a success killer is the quiet seller who isn't willing to challenge the thinking of buyers. You must find the right balance.

  4. Sending information via email and believing that's insight selling: Buyers see this for what it is—a non-customized strategy that communicates the seller is not making an effort. All messages should be relevant, personalized, and focused on a strategic imperative important to the individual buyer.

  5. Equating insight selling with pitching: Embracing insight selling does not lead to an altogether rejection of consultative selling concepts. When sellers make this assumption, they forgo questioning, listening, and understanding in favor of taking up the mantle of an idea and pitching it forcefully. Consultative selling is necessary, it's just no longer sufficient for sales success.

  6. Lacking customization and customer focus: With a little effort, sellers can create much deeper engagement with buyers. Take the time to demonstrate understanding and tailor interactions uniquely for them.

  7. Not convincing: Insight sellers must be able to take a point of view, defend it convincingly, and persuade others to believe in it.

  8. Conducting ill-timed needs discovery versus presenting: Know when it is time to share a point of view and when to listen. For example, if the buyer requested and arranged the meeting, let them own the floor first.

  9. Making presentation gaffes: The list of possible mistakes is long: bad story, bad slides, too many slides, improper humor, etc. Most importantly, design your sales presentation to be interactive, and master the material.

  10. Dismissing trust: The buyer's trust in the seller is essential. Without it, the buyer perceives the risk of buying from you as too high.

  11. Equating collaboration with consensus building: Insight selling involves collaborating with buyers throughout the sales process. But collaboration does not mean getting absolutely everyone on the same page, and it does not mean including people who are tangential to the decision making process. Instead, engage the primary buyers in needs discovery and solution crafting.

  12. Being unwilling to involve the buyer: Working closely with senior, highly knowledgeable buyers can be intimidating. Put in the effort and time to increase your expertise and craft a peer dynamic with the most senior decision makers.

  13. Creating psychological ownership and then stealing it away: Sellers commonly don't allow the buyer to take the credit for ideas and thus don't create ownership. Instead of pointing out that you had the same idea, simply say, "I agree."

  14. Not taking control and guiding collaboration: Collaboration does not mean relinquishing control. It is important to have the skill and gravitas to prevent a buyer from strong-arming his or her way out of a collaborative setting.

  15. Not being proactive: Buyers are disengaged when sellers don't establish themselves as sources of insight in collaboration-driven meetings. Proactively invite collaboration—don't leave it to chance.

  16. Expecting that everyone can be an insight seller and not hiring for insight: Not everyone is destined to be an insight seller. Assessing and hiring candidates who have the necessary skills and attributes is critical for organizations that want it to become a part of the sales culture.

  17. Lacking the tools and resources to execute insight: It is not always possible for every seller in a team to generate his or her own ideas to expand buyer thinking and success for the business. Circulate good ideas among the team to ensure that every seller is armed with the best tools.

  18. Not coaching for insight: Sales coaching too often focuses on the process of a deal. Rarely do coaches give encouragement, offer ideas, and provide resources to make the seller more effective with insight selling.

  19. Providing training that fails: If insight selling is simply this quarter's training program, don't expect traction. To build effective insight sellers, company leaders should think of training less as an event and more as an ongoing priority and initiative.

Common mistakes and misconceptions hinder the ability of many to master insight selling. To be successful, read Your Guide to Insight Selling Success and avoid these common mistakes.

Last Updated July 28, 2023

Topics: Insight Selling