Get Your Reps to Sell with Insights

selling with insights sales reps

Today, the pressure is on for salespeople to “sell with insight.” But what does that mean?

At the Sales 2.0 Conference in Las Vegas on September 18, Richardson CEO David DiStefano defined “insight selling.” As he explained, insight is “information or a perspective” that

  1. is based on credible research or relevant experience,
  2. is personalized to the buyer,
  3. opens the buyer’s mind,
  4. creates urgency and causes the buyer to act.

How many sales teams today successfully sell with insight? DiStefano said the numbers do not look good:

  • Only 1 in 10 executives report getting value from meetings with salespeople. (Forrester research)
  • Only 17 percent of executives grant a second meeting to a salesperson. (Forrester research)

Clearly, these numbers indicate that customers feel they are not receiving enough value from their interactions with salespeople. By contrast, someone who sells with insight will have productive initial meetings with customers and be invited back. The insightful seller will hear customers say,

“I never thought about it that way.”

“Tell me more.”

“You know, I hadn’t considered the risk of NOT doing that.”

“My boss was just talking about this the other day.”

These are all promising statements indicating that buyers’ minds are being opened and they’re receptive to hearing more (or, even better, actively taking next steps). But there is an inherent risk to selling with insight, and DiStefano said that many sales leaders are afraid their salespeople will fall flat on their faces (according to Richardson data, 70 percent of US executives are concerned that their salespeople lack the skills necessary to sell with insight). Here are three things that salespeople should keep in mind when selling with insight.

  • Don’t use statistics that “smell funny.” If your data comes from a study you sponsored, for example, buyers will probably be skeptical.
  • Don’t use numbers that are stale, outdated, or overused. You don’t want to hear your prospect say, “That’s an old number. New data actually suggests XYZ,” or “Your competitor was in my office yesterday and quoted the same number.”
  • If you’re referencing relevant experience (for example, customer case studies or informal information based on conversations you’ve had with other executives), watch for holes where the prospect might not see that relevance. For example, you don’t want to hear, “Well, that worked for that particular industry, but our industry is nothing like that.”

DiStefano stressed that sales leaders cannot expect salespeople to make a quick switch to insight selling. “We know the buyers have more power and more knowledge and engage us later in the sales cycle,” said DiStefano. “That is a significant challenge, and the switch to selling with insights is not something that just happens. You can’t just tell salespeople, ‘Go do this,’ and expect them to do it differently.”

To learn more about insight selling, visit

[Image via Flickr / 드림포유]


About Lisa

Editorial Director at
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