Insight Is Always Contextual!


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HBR recently published an article, “Why ‘Tell Them Something They Don’t Know’ Is Bad Advice In B2B Sales.” The title is very “clickbaity,” upon reading it, the theme was very different, though perhaps not well explained.

I don’t think anyone would argue, insight is important. It’s key to capturing the attention and imaginations of our prospects and customers.

If I look at much of the prospecting email or calls I receive, clearly the marketing and sales enablement people have read the same books–they are trying to engage me with insight.

But……. (You have to know there is a but)

Too often, the insight is meaningless to the recipient. It isn’t relevant or novel to them. Alternatively, we can’t connect the dots for the prospect about why the insight should be important to them.

Too often, we go through the motions of engaging with insight but fail to leverage the power of real insights.

As an example, recently I worked with a team that had been trained to deliver insight. They knew what to say, because they had been trained and scripted in saying the words. They could reference papers and case studies that were publicly available about the insight.

The problem was, the people they delivered the insight to tended to shrug their shoulders, say, “That’s interesting, we already know about it, we don’t have that issue.” and move on.

There were a number of problems with their implementation of their insight strategies:

  1. The insight wasn’t particularly new or unknown. In their case, the data was widely known by their target customers. Insight doesn’t necessarily have to be new, novel or unknown, but….
  2. They failed to make it relevant to the customer. They cited the insight but didn’t translate it into what it meant, why it was important, and why the person they were delivering the insight to should care. This was because….
  3. They weren’t equipped to have these conversations with the customer. They could parrot what they had been told/trained to say, but they didn’t really understand what it meant to the customer and why they should care.
  4. They couldn’t make the insight relevant to the differing personas involved in the buying decision. They focused on the end users, how it would make them much more productive/effective. But they couldn’t translate the insight into the impact on the operations, procurement, and financial people involved in the buying process.
  5. The insight focused on inciting the customer to change. But as the customer moved through their buying cycle, they didn’t adjust their insight to be aligned with where the customer was in their buying process. They failed to provide insights on ease of uses when presenting the solution to end users, they never addressed specific insights on savings with procurement and finance. It ended up being the customers’ jobs to figure that out.

Insight can be very powerful. But it has to be contextually relevant to the people involved in the buying group–both their role and where they are in the buying process. Absent this, it loses it’s power and relevance.

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  1. @david.brock Thanks for posting this article. I couldn’t agree more with context mattering when you deliver insights. Insights is another resource available for you, but if you don’t take into account the context of the audience you are sharing it with, it can be seen as irrelevant, not meaningful, no ‘light bulb’ moments triggered. In sales ops, pulling insights is one thing, but we need to partner with sales enablement and sales management if we want to help sellers more effectively use it with the unique context each customer will have. Great share!

    1. Thanks so much Yuri! I think this is an area where a lot of our “personalization” efforts fall short. We have tools that enable massive personalization, but we fall short by not making our outreaches/engagement contextually relevant to the person we are engaging.

      1. Good point. Leveraging technology to automate “personalization” is ok, BUT if we don’t also enable our sellers on what it really means to “personalize” your message – especially when you are sharing insights – then it’s simply slotting in a person’s name and title, which really isn’t personalizing it. And you won’t get the unique context relevant to your prospect/customer until you have some dialogue with them.

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