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Do You Have What It Takes to Become an Insight Seller?

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Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

There’s a revolution underway in sales. What used to work, even just a few years ago, is no longer enough to win major sales today.

As a result, a new breed of seller, who's beating out the competition and winning the sale, has emerged: the insight seller.

Insight sellers share new ideas and perspectives with their buyers, and they collaborate with buyers to develop the best solutions. They don’t just sell the value of their products and services, they become the value.

insightsellerattributes.pngTo succeed as an insight seller, we've identified 12 key attributes, which we divide into tendencies and qualities, that drive their success. They're displayed in the image to the left.


Insight sellers share 7 tendencies—these are the predispositions that drive how people choose to spend their time:

  1. Passion for Work and Selling: Insight sellers have a desire for success in general and for selling in particular.

    Without it—Sellers don't do the work. They may be compliant, but they are not committed doing what it takes to succeed in sales.
  2. Conceptual Thinking: Insight sellers conceive innovative ideas and select the right strategies. They see how the parts affect the whole and tend to have the mental discipline to think structurally and systematically about things.

    Without it—Ideas are poorly positioned and sellers tend not to create compelling solutions or inspire buyer confidence.
  3. Curiosity: Insight sellers are interested in people and situations. They have a thirst for knowledge and strive to become experts.

    Without it—Sellers don't seek knowledge. They often don't ask enough questions or listen. Insights they do share often aren't new, interesting, or relevant.
  4. Sense of Urgency: Insight sellers value speed. They drive sales forward, are impatient with the status quo, and take action.

    Without it—Sellers let too much time slip by. They don't focus on actions that drive the best results or push for decisions. They aren't change agents.
  5. Assertiveness: Insight sellers take control and lead discussions. They defend their point of view and insert themselves into important situations. They are not afraid to create disruptions.

    Without it—Sellers don't create the tension or disruption required to create change. They don't practice interaction insight and aren't forceful enough to even get on the buyer's radar screen.
  6. Money Orientation: Insight sellers are comfortable discussing money and understand how businesses make money. They are also motivated to maximize their personal income.

    Without it—Sellers tend not to qualify prospects or establish return on investment (ROI) cases necessary for driving new initiatives forward. They don't ask about money and waste time chasing leads that don't have a chance of closing.
  7. Performance Orientation: Insight sellers manage their time ruthlessly and focus on results. They take advantage of opportunities, manage their pipelines tightly, and are driven to win.

    Without it—Sellers don't manage their time or activities well. They make excuses and don't make strong ROI cases.

These tendencies are the engines that drive an insight seller's actions. But tendencies are only half of the story when it comes to what it takes to succeed as an insight seller. Insight sellers also share 5 qualities that guide their success.

If tendencies are the engines of behaviors, qualities are the platform and the rudder:

  1. Gravitas: Insight sellers are substantive, confident, and credible—they are people to be taken seriously.

    Without it—The advice of the seller is not valued or taken. They tend not to succeed with executive buyers and they wilt under pressure such as in a negotiation.
  2. Business Acumen: Insight sellers are quick to understand situations. They give advice and make good decisions. They understand organizations, people, change, innovation, finance, and accounting, along with the key drivers of profit and success in business.

    Without it—Sellers don't establish credibility or communicate insights and advice leading to good outcomes. They don't drive action and change and don't make strong ROI cases.
  3. Perseverance: Insight sellers are willing to do what it takes to succeed. They focus on the task at hand, and stick with it for the long haul.

    Without it—Sellers are easily distracted. They don't pursue the knowledge and skills necessary for insight selling success.
  4. Integrity: Insight sellers have strong moral values and they consistently meet their commitments.

    Without it—Sellers ruin their relationships when they're uncovered for not being virtuous and success doesn't last.
  5. Emotional Intelligence: Insight sellers understand and manage their own and others' emotions. They can handle difficult personalities and adjust their style based on the buyer. They don't panic, get distracted, or react emotionally.

    Without it—Sellers don't create or succeed in situations that require tension. They get flustered and lose focus easily. They also have a difficult time creating and maintaining a peer dynamic.

Anyone can come to a training class and learn a skill, but not everyone will a) become good at what they learn, or b) apply new skills and behaviors when selling. Getting to top performance depends on whether the person is the right fit for the role.

And fit, when it comes to becoming an insight seller, is very much determined by these 12 attributes.

Last Updated June 6, 2023

Topics: Insight Selling