How Insight Sales is Like a Relationship

by Shannon F.

Valentine’s Day, love it or hate it, is usually a time to reflect on your relationship status. So whether your Valentine’s Day involves an expensive, multi-course meal, a wild night out with your other single friends, a quiet evening spent at home watching a documentary on the mating habits of spider monkeys, or some strange combination of the three, relationships will probably cross your mind at some point today, February 14th.

The best romantic relationships have a lot in common with the best sales relationships, and vice versa. Yesterday, we explored how Insight Sales is rapidly replacing Solution Sales as the way to go. Some pundits have said that relationship selling is out the window, but we don’t think that’s true. Insight Sales is about changing the dynamics of the relationship between prospect and salesperson so that it’s healthier and more productive. Here are some characteristics of a thriving prospect relationship based on Insight Sales principles:

The best couples have insightful discussions. Solution Selling can mean some pretty boring conversations: the prospect or customer presents an existing problem, and you, the salesperson, provide a ready solution. Luckily, today’s prospects are educated consumers. They’ve done their research already, and they aren’t looking for answers to easy questions. Instead, they’re in the market for innovative ideas that could transform the way they do business. Identifying a prospect’s unmet need and helping them to revamp their business practices makes for a much livelier first date.

They don’t always agree with each other. It can be pleasant to date someone who agrees with everything that comes out of your mouth—for a while. Eventually, you may feel that you aren’t being challenged or engaged. Solution Sales wisdom states that the customer is always right. But if your customers truly do know more than you, it won’t be long before you become irrelevant. Providing an alternative viewpoint can help them realize that they need your insight and expertise.

They make the little things count. It may seem unfair, but the big things—like mutual respect, emotional support, and financial stability—are often taken for granted in a relationship. It’s the small, thoughtful gestures that win you the most points. Similarly, your prospects/customers expect you to do the big things as a matter of course, but having a little insight into their wants and needs will get them to actually appreciate you. They don’t care that you installed 50 cubicles in their new office building—that’s your job—but they’re still telling their friends about the little coat hooks you put on each one as an extra touch.

They share a vision. Even when working towards different goals, each member of a good relationship understands what the other is striving for and will actively offer feedback, encouragement, and advice. It may be hard to get caught up in your prospects’ dreams and goals, but that’s what separates Insight salespeople from the rest. They help prospects envision what their company could be like tomorrow, rather than just providing a solution for today. And every relationship should have a vision for tomorrow, whether it’s making a long-term commitment or just trying that new Korean barbeque place on the corner.

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