So far in this Q&A series, sales force transformation leader Mike Kunkle (@Mike_Kunkle), has defined insight selling and discussed how it is applicable throughout the buyer’s journey, regardless of the stage that sales reps become a part of it. Clearly it’s an important skill, but can all reps be good at it with practice? Are there inhibitors to insight selling? I asked exactly that…
What would you say is the biggest inhibitor that keeps sales reps from effective insight selling?
This may surprise some people, but this is crystal clear for me. It’s a lack of highly-honed interpersonal communication skills. Here’s why I say that:
I’ve seen 15 sales reps in a training room, ranging from 3-20 years of experience, struggle during a training activity to purposely formulate and ask a simple open question, on demand.
I’ve seen veteran sales reps struggle to make a client-focused empathy statement.
I’ve observed reps on sales calls interrupt their client’s question, to answer a question the client wasn’t really asking.
I’ve heard experienced reps wrap up their discovery session without ever asking a single question about the impacts or implications of the problem they were exploring with the customer. No quantification. No discussion about what happens if the problem isn’t solved. No question about their desired outcomes. Certainly no discussion about what, if anything, the buyer already tried. Surface level selling skills lead to surface level solutions. And we wonder why so many opportunities stall at “No Decision.”
And lastly, to tie this back to insight selling, in the same way that some people can’t set up a joke and nail a great punchline, I’ve seen a lot of reps struggle to deliver juxtaposed data points effectively to create an “A-ha!” moment.
If I had to radically raise the effectiveness of a sales force and could only pull one sales rep lever to do it – I’d choose basic sales communication skills. This usually makes people think I’ve lost my mind, because everybody thinks they and their team have these basics down. But when you truly put that to the test, it’s usually far from true. And… it’s especially critical for insight selling.
Stay tuned next week for Mike’s thoughts on why it’s important for reps develop a “sales acumen” for success. For more insight from Mike, visit is blog on transforming sales results at MikeKunkle.com or follow his posts on LinkedIn.
For details on how Brainshark helps reps have more productive, successful sales conversation, take a tour of the Brainshark Sales Accelerator.
Mike Kunkle Q&A Series