Insight Selling and the Value of CRM I hear you say? Are process-oriented tools (like a CRM) suitable in todays world of creative, adaptive, and insight-based sales? We’d like to introduce you to Insight Selling and the Value of CRM.

The Harvard Business Review recently wrote an article, Dismantling the Sales Machine.  It discusses recent research surrounding the breakdown of process-based selling environments and the rise of what it calls “insight selling”. It characterises insight selling as a creative and adaptive approach to winning new business.

The main points the HBR highlighted when defining this new environment compared with traditional sales were:

  • There is a growing importance to measure and evaluate salespeople on long-term total business growth. Rather than short term gains and prescriptive practices that have them jumping through pre-defined hoops.
  • Demanding quick-wins forces sales reps to compete on price, rather than figuring out creative ways to build value for customers.
  • Reps perform better with informed customers if they are supported during the process rather than directed to take actions.
  • Advanced sales organisations in the new environment look for late-stage buyer behaviour, but also identify early-stage indicators. Tracking them all the way along this continuum.

Within this new ‘Insight Selling’ environment, managers are suggested to demonstrate the following:

  • Facilitate salespeople in a collaborative environment to assist with creative outcomes. Not dictating process and procedures.
  • Communicate informally to stay informed and involved on a regular bases rather than strictly at scheduled reviews. They “live at the whiteboard” and encourage creative strategy sessions.
  • Judge salespeople on long-term achievements and avoid knee-jerk reactions to short term lulls.

Insight selling environment

Similarly, sales talent which will succeed in this environment are:

  • Judgment-based critical thinkers
  • Collaborative
  • Autonomous
  • Motivated by things other than short term monetary incentives (See our blog on Purpose, Autonomy, Mastery)

So where does process-oriented software like a CRM fit in with this new model of Insight Selling?

  1. The ability to measure Volume and Conversion is more important than velocity. (See our Sales Momentum post)
  2. The CRM should function to support a salesperson’s everyday process rather than enforce management’s metrics-based processes. Too often CRM systems are imposed as a ‘tool’ for salespeople when they really only serve to give visibility to upper management.
  3. Measure the entire customer journey. From social to sale, if you want to be an advanced sales organisation as characterised by the HBR, you’ll need to ensure you begin mapping your customers buying journey wherever it starts.

“Insight Selling” is a new name for something the SalesSeek team have been doing for a long time. We realised that typical CRM tools weren’t allowing the flexibility of use that was required to add value to salespeople and the day-to-day sales process. With empowered and informed consumers there are still key advantages from process based tools such as CRM, however these need to be utilised in different ways that are aligned with todays modern selling environment.