Give clients “Insights” to make more sales

In the past several years there’s been a bit of a gold rush around the term “insight selling.” Research from a variety of sources, has confirmed a simple fact: buyers buy from sellers who are sources of ideas. So now everyone’s doing it.

This isn’t necessarily a new concept. The whole industry of management consulting has been in the business of selling ideas for more than 100 years. The rest of the industries, however, have recently jumped on the bandwagon.

The idea of insight selling goes like this: sellers provide insight into how a business can be successful—they can give the ideas away for free—and they can bank on buyers buying their widget in the process.

It turns out this works. It is, however, easier said than done.

The cold reality is that most sellers don’t bring new and valuable ideas to the table. Buyers see through thinly veiled product pitches presented in a teaching wrapper. Sellers have to be better than this if they want buyers to say something like:


I’m pitched ideas all day by sellers who think they were the first person who tried that on me today. However, this one that just came by—they really got me thinking. I think they have something worthwhile to offer.



The top three things sales winners do most differently from second-place finishers are:

  1.  Educate me with new ideas and perspectives
  1. Collaborate with me
  1. Persuade me we will achieve results The common thread? They’re all about

Great collaboration often inspires ideas. In fact, there’s plenty of research to suggest that great ideas come from collaboration because the ideas can mingle and swap.

Finally, “persuade me we will achieve results” is about belief in the ideas and their merits.

When sellers employ insight selling, which we define as “the process of creating and winning sales opportunities, and driving change, with ideas that matter,” they’re finding themselves in the winner’s circle more often.



I ask you to forgive me a moment’s bitching if I pick out a particularly unhelpful trend in many of these about-to-become-best- selling business books, especially those in sales, that use what I call the Armageddon selling formula.

The approach goes something like this: “Everything you’ve ever learned about sales is wrong and, unless you stop doing it instantly, your sales efforts will shortly die in agony. There is, however, one simple cure that I have discovered. It is . . .” and here the author puts in a pitch for the appropriate magic bullet, such as “my prospecting method,” “my selection system,” “our funnel management process,” or “our trademarked social media analytics”—take your pick...

The Armageddon approach to sales doesn't help anyone. When, for example, a serious journal like the Harvard Business Review publishes an article titled “The End of Solution Sales,” it damages the credibility of all involved. The sales field has been growing up nicely in recent years: It can live without this kind of overstatement. Solution selling (or consultative selling, as I prefer to call it) isn't dead or finished; it just needs to adapt to the new sales world.


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