How to Transform Prospects from Impartial to Inspired: A Guide to Leading with Insights

Discover how leading with insights can help you disrupt the buying process and reset the buying criteria in your favor.

August 25, 2014




The Challenger Sale taught us that winning sales reps lead with insight. The practice hasn’t changed, but the market has.

Specifically, there are two trends that are forever changing the state of buying:

  1. Customers are cutting sales people out of the process.
    1. Two-thirds of the buyer’s journey is now performed digitally.
  2. Customers are getting more information from outside sources.
    1. Branded content from suppliers accounts for less than half of all information used for purchase decisions.
    2. Today, any given supplier will likely receive no more than 15% share of mind among those making the buying decisions.

Leading with insights is the "buying process-friendly" way of becoming an entrenched part of your prospect's decision journey. Here's what you need to know about leading with insights, and how to use this sales strategy to generate results.

What does leading with insights mean?

When you hear people talking about leading with insights, what they really mean is finding and delivering a key commercial insight that is unique to each sales prospect and their respective company.

CEB defines a commercial insight as “a compelling, defensible perspective from a supplier that materially impacts a customer’s performance and directly leads back to their unique capabilities.”

There are two operative words here:

Impacts – Your insight should clearly show how your prospect’s business currently is, or will be, impacted as a result of either making a decision or maintaining the status quo.

Unique – Your insight should be unique to your prospect’s business, not generic information.

Providing an impactful, unique commercial insight is what allows you to disrupt the customer buying process. And now that you have the prospect’s attention, you can “reset” the buying criteria in your favor.

Insight selling, at its core, is about reaching prospects that can make decisions and telling them something new and exciting that relates to how they compete in their market. Insight selling is most effective when the message is tailored to the unique scenario of the company, including company-specific metrics and the individual stakeholders involved.

How we lead with insights

Our sales team here at LinkedIn regularly leads with insights to connect with potential customers.

For example, we may find that a company has x number of users paying for their own licenses, and in most cases the company is incurring the cost through expense reimbursement.

So we reach out to the company and let them know that x number of people are paying for licenses, and that they could increase access, expand capabilities and save money by purchasing a group license, for example.

It’s a simple approach, but it’s one that clearly shows how we “unteach” these companies that prefer to have employees pay for their own licenses or enlighten the companies who aren’t aware of the increased expense being created.

An example of using prospect-specific research to lead with insights

Let’s say your company sells cyber insurance that protects companies against data breaches. Instead of spewing the same, generic stats other sales reps use, you could have a research team look for technical vulnerabilities specific to your prospect.

Then, show these specific vulnerabilities to your prospect and explain why they are at an even higher risk than other companies and competitors in the market.

Now, you can start talking about solutions that can provide the same or better level of protection than competitors at an equal or lesser price.

Where to find unique, impactful data points

Granted, some sales organizations have easier access to insightful data than others. But if you need to dig for insightful data, chances are good that your competition needs to dig for insights as well.

One of the great value props of Sales Navigator is that you don't have to dig anymore, information comes to you. For example, if your company uses LinkedIn Sales Navigator, you have access to real-time updates from previously saved leads and companies that are generated from not only activity on the LinkedIn platform, but also a variety of news sources.

What’s better than having your insights delivered to you?

If you don’t have access to LinkedIn Sales Navigator, you’ll want to save potential buyers as LinkedIn contacts and follow the Company Page and relevant Showcase Pages of your target companies in order to stay in touch with news and updates that can make a difference in your selling efforts.

What are the insight “triggers” for your sales organization?

Every sales scenario is different. There are likely “triggers” that your company will want to stay on top of in order to deliver timely, insightful messages.

For example, if you sell a service that helps executives transition from one company to the next, you’ll definitely want to stay on top of executive-level job changes on LinkedIn and join relevant recruiting / HR groups.

And once you identify your prospect, you can deliver better insights based on the type of company she is transitioning to.

Employees: an excellent source of insights

When you have a target company that you’re certain is a good fit, but data insights aren’t easy to come by, use your LinkedIn network to connect with other employees at the company.

TeamLink is a great way to identify ways to get introduced. It automatically shows you which colleagues can help you connect with customers and accounts.

Keep up on the competition’s content

Keep a close eye on the marketing activities of your competitors, especially those publishing content that challenges the way people in your industry are currently doing business.

Yes, sometimes you can use data from “enemy content” to help lay out the costs of your prospect’s current behavior.

Now go and lead with insights

Albert Einstein once said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.”

Gaining the attention of decision makers early in the sales process is a common problem for most sales professionals. Those who lead with insights invest most of their time framing a very real, very specific problem for decision makers. And they hold a massive advantage over those who spend five minutes offering up solutions to perceived problems.

Who is your most promising prospect today? How can you find and deliver insights that will disrupt the buying process and reset the buying criteria in your favor?