Gaining New Insights into the Sales Process

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In last week’s podcast with Linda we dove into the topic of insights.  How she phrases it may lead you to re-think the way you train your sales people. Entire Transcription with Podcast Link: The New Sales Conversation with Linda Richardson

Joe Dager: The Lean world is predominantly on the operational side where we think bigger, better, and faster is the key to selling. It is that product dominant type of thinking. But you’re saying it’s not much of a differentiator anymore?

Linda Richardson: I think when you look at bigger, better, faster, there are a lot of companies out there that are striving and working and are at white boards day and night and pushing their teams to be bigger, better, and faster. If you’re going to be looking for your differentiation there with a very knowledgeable client, that’s not going to impress as much as if you can figure out and bring something to add to what the client already knows. That’s beyond product knowledge, and that’s where this whole concept of insights, to bring insights to clients, to really prepare in a way that was actually never possible before.

Joe Dager: Well to get those insights, but where does the salesman need to be? Can he get that through product training and the type of training he gets within a company? Or does he need to be trained on the customer’s product? How do you get these insights?

Linda Richardson: That’s right. These insights aren’t the result of just knowing your product. That is a big part of it and especially if you’ve worked with other clients and you can appropriate an idea from one client and bring it to another and really add value. But the job of the salesperson is really much tougher. The need for expertise and business acumen is vital right now, much, much so than ever. I talk about something I call futuring – you not only have to know what the client needs now, you need a lot of information so you can anticipate what the client will need. I talk about readiness in the book. Salespeople need to be industry ready, not just company ready. Company ready is very important, Stakeholder ready, very important, industry ready. If you really had industry knowledge and company knowledge and stakeholder knowledge, and you know your products, out of that hopefully can come insights.

The job of insights shouldn’t only rest on the shoulders of a salesperson. It’s up to the marketing department with all of the data that they have, I believe, to provide insights, at least conceptually generic insights that salespeople can tailor and apply to their clients. It really takes a village to sell today. To just ask that salesperson to just go out there and do it is really tying both hands behind their back. What we need to do is support operations, and marketing, sales leadership, sales coaching. All of those are major, major pieces that are needed to sell in this new challenging world of sales, and it is a new world.

Joe Dager: You’re saying that we need an engagement team per se of people out there. Would it be fair to say that it’s got to be just not directed to customers, but you already have to be, and I use this metaphor, playing in the customer’s playground and his market to understand the opportunities out there?

Linda Richardson: Absolutely. The clients, today, won’t talk to you unless they know you know their world. You have to show that you know your world. That’s the value of bringing insights into the client because if you can start a conversation and not go too far into the conversation, because that’s the big dilemma that’s created. You can go in with a lot of information today that you didn’t have in the past. The salesperson has tremendous resources. Yes, the client has tremendous resources but so does the salesperson. They can do research in a matter of 20 minutes that would’ve taken, if possible, days in the past. So the idea is if you can bring insights and use those insights to engage relevant insights to clients and then use that as a jumping off point to really engage in a dialogue and the kind of specific information you do need from the client.


In a recent post, I discussed the Value Model Mapping that was a part of the above discussion. The mapping provides a great deal of context to the sales conversation. As more and more decisions are being made by committee, our understanding must adjust. We can no longer just look to the decision maker. We must view the purchasing committee as a whole. My outline on how I would create a map for a sales conversation is below.  I think it creates an interesting outline for a sales call covering all three aspects; Pre-planning, The Actual Sales Call, and Post review. Your thoughts?

Download the Value Model Mapping PDF

 Entire Transcription with Podcast Link: The New Sales Conversation with Linda Richardson

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.

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