RAIN Group Sales Blog

Your source for sales advice, tips, research, and insights to unleash sales potential.

Insight selling is the process of creating and winning sales opportunities and driving change with ideas that matter. There are two applications of insight selling: interaction insight and opportunity insight.

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The following is an excerpt from our new toolkit for sellers, How to Change the Buyer Conversation with Insight. Click here to access it. >>  Think about buyers you've worked with who were trying to move an initiative or agenda forward. You probably heard something like:  "We only need support in these areas from you." "The team has decided to engage an outside provider to deliver on X." "We're open to ideas about Y, but don't want to talk about Z." These buyers are in their comfort zone: either comfortable with what they're trying to accomplish or how they're trying to accomplish it.  In some cases, there may be a good reason for it. It's possible they've already invested a great deal of time and resources into what they believe the solution should be.  But many buyers are headed down paths that won’t serve them well. This is because they don’t know what you know or that something better might be possible. Your job is to help buyers make the best decisions, which often means making different decisions.

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At their core, top-performing salespeople are change agents. They recommend, advise, and assist buyers (what is typically known as consultative selling), and they aren't afraid to push when it's in the best interest of their buyers. Indeed, top sellers are Insight Sellers. These people make five cases to ensure the value proposition for each buyer is as strong as it can be. They inspire buyers with new ideas and perspectives, and influence how buyers tackle their priority initiatives. They question the status quo and don't let buyers accept it, thus redefining reality.

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Everyone says, "Sell value, drive value, make sure buyers both perceive and receive exceptional value from you, and your sales teams will be more successful."

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Sellers who win more often bring new ideas and perspectives to their buyers. In fact, 71% of buyers report that they want to talk to sellers early in the sales process when they are looking for new ideas. But what ideas inspire buyers? How can you shape buyer agendas for action? How can you differentiate in sales?

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Since Mack Hanan coined the term in 1970, consultative selling has been the most widely accepted—and most pursued—sales approach. The approach is characterized as understanding buyer needs and positioning offerings as solutions to problems. While this has been the go-to approach for many sellers, massive changes in buying technology and the vast amount of information on the internet is significantly changing how buyers buy at an unprecedented pace.

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For the last 50 or so years, consultative selling has been the go-to approach for most sellers. In traditional consultative selling, the buyer states a need and the seller positions their offerings as solutions to problems. This used to be enough to win the sale. But today’s buyers often perceive sellers and their capabilities to be somewhat interchangeable.1 This leaves sellers stuck in a capabilities battle, fighting price pressure.

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Since the term was coined in 1970, consultative selling has been the most widely accepted—and pursued—sales approach. For the following forty years, advice for how to sell had mostly been a variation on the consultative selling theme.

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We've written a lot about our What Sales Winners Do Differently research, in which we studied more than 700 B2B sales purchases by buyers representing $3.1 billion in annual purchasing power. We've shared with you how sales winners don't only sell differently, they sell radically differently from second-place finishers.

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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.

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There's been a bit of a gold rush around the term "insight selling" in the last several years. Research from a variety of sources, including RAIN Group, has confirmed a simple fact: Buyers buy from sellers who are sources of ideas.

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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.

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There's been a lot of noise the last couple years declaring relationship selling dead. "The Internet has changed everything." "Personal connections don't matter anymore." "Selling is not about relationships." "Throw out everything you thought you knew about sales, Armageddon is coming!" Blah, blah, etc.

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In the latter half of the 1700s, German astrologist and physician Franz Anton Mesmer treated his patients by looking deeply into their eyes and waving magnets in front of their faces. Mesmer believed barriers in our bodies disrupted the natural flow of the processes that gave us life and health. He further believed his penetrating eye gazing and object waving restored natural order inside his patients and relieved all sorts of maladies.

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Lots of things have changed in the world of sales, but some things have not. Building trust was important 50 years ago, and it's just as important today. When buyers trust sellers, they depend on them, listen to them, give them access, and spend time with them.

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In Insight Selling: Surprising Research on What Sales Winners Do Differently, we reveal the results of our extensive analysis of over 700 B2B purchases from the buyer’s perspective. In our research, we found that sales winners consistently exhibit behaviors on three levels: they connect, convince, and collaborate.

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In our What Sales Winners Do Differently research, we found that the number one factor separating sales winners from second-place finishers is this: Sellers educated buyers with new ideas or perspectives. In other words, the seller became known as a source of insight.

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Insight selling is an old concept that has recaptured the fancy of the sales world, and rightly so, because it’s about adding value. Specifically, it’s about the seller adding value over-and-above the product or service. Too many folks, however, think insight selling is about educating buyers through presentations. They’re about half right, but without the other half, they’re missing out on the full impact of insight selling.

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CONVINCE con•vince Cause (someone) to believe firmly in the truth of something. Persuade (someone) to take action. Building confidence in the validity of an idea. Inspiring action. The sellers who do these best sell the most.

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