Today, almost every complex product is loaded with sensors that report diagnostic data, performance data and usage data. Some of this data ends up on the display panels on our stoves, automobile dashboards, medical devices, aircraft cockpits or industrial equipment. Most of the data is uploaded to the manufacturer or seller of the device that generates the data.
CPQ and other technologies will ease the burden of product knowledge and allow the salesperson to concentrate on a more beneficial sales role. Insight selling is the manifestation of this elevated selling role.
For Sales, this capability offers huge opportunities in the area of negotiating relationships with the buyer that will maximize the usefulness of the uploaded data.
How Insight Selling Benefits Buyers
Sellers frequently build their value propositions to include a responsiveness component. Sales can elevate that message of responsiveness to advantages far more valuable to the buyer, such as:
- Reduced or eliminated product downtime
- Part and supply purchases based on data-driven need rather than a calendar-driven maintenance schedule
- Enhanced, data-driven budgetary predictions for service expenses and product replacement costs
How Sellers Benefit from Insight Selling
Sellers will also enjoy these similar benefits:
- Lower cost of selling for supplies and parts
- Increased predictability of supply and part needs for inventory purposes
- A closer relationship with the buyer that will make the seller more difficult for competition to displace
- Enhanced, data-driven revenue projections for budgetary purposes
But the seller has to establish a higher level of trust with the buyer from the beginning in order to exploit the advantages of an IoT-connected customer. To realize the full benefits, the seller needs to establish agreements with the buyer that allow him or her to analyze and act upon the data received from the installed devices.
The buyer will need to trust the seller to maintain extreme confidentiality regarding the buyer’s operational data and must have confidence in the seller’s ability to protect that data from access or misuse.
Benefits Delivered and Relationships Redefined in Almost Any Vertical Market
It is easy to visualize the positive impacts of this capability for almost any complex product or market. It is equally obvious that this capability will change how the product is sold—both from a message point of view, as well as the selling process itself.
The selling process will be automated for many part and supply products. The sale of the product will be focused more on the enhanced responsiveness and the supporting relationship between vendor and customer.
Sales will still need to talk about product efficiency and effectiveness, but the conversation will need to go much further as those two elements approach a nearly commoditized status.
For example, consider HVAC-R. Imagine your furnace reporting constant carbon monoxide level readings directly from your heat exchanger. For cooling systems, refrigerant levels and systems operational data offer enhanced predictability of system failure and facilitate failure avoidance.
The HVAC-R sales team delivers a message of enhanced safety and drastically reduced downtime. But ultimately, the HVAC-R sales team sells a relationship that supports an automated system maintenance and resupply process.
For Specialty Vehicles and Industrial Equipment, the base products are revenue-critical to the buying enterprise. Sensor-generated information delivered back to the manufacturer offers detailed product status reports, as well as enhanced predictability of part failure for preventative action and consumables data for replenishment ordering.
Again, Sales will deliver a product message regarding reduced downtime and build an after-sales relationship that facilitates automated supply and maintenance of the installed system.
The sales transactions generated by an ISR team who calls customers to check on part and supply inventories will now be facilitated by data sent from the installed product to the supplying vendor. Orders will be automated; parts and supplies sent; maintenance performed; and invoices generated and paid—all without the intervention of a physical buyer or seller.
Across every industry, connectivity is redefining products and buyer/customer relationships. For Sales teams, this means big changes in how they sell, what they sell and how their customers perceive them.
A New Role for Sales and Buyers
Sales will ask the buyer to authorize processes that automate the ordering, shipment, installation and billing for products, parts and supplies. These transactions will be authorized and driven by data generated by the installed product and shared with the seller.
To achieve this level of partnership, Sales must move beyond features and benefits. CPQ and other technologies will ease the burden of product knowledge and allow the salesperson to concentrate on a more beneficial sales role. Insight selling is the manifestation of this elevated selling role.
Product knowledge will still be important, but Sales will need to see the product as a buyer sees it. They will need to anticipate what the buyer needs prior to the buyer realizing that need.
Buyers will see Sales in a new light that transcends that of a source for products and will expect Sales to bring more to the table than knowledge of features and benefits.
Sales must become brokers of knowledge, and that knowledge needs to be built around a deep understanding of the buyer’s business, their needs and their goals.
Sales: A Source of Insightful Knowledge and Valued Counsel
Successful sellers will be the sellers that most convincingly convert their own realized insights about the buyer’s business into tangible, value-based knowledge to be shared with the buyer. At that point, the buyer sees the sales rep as something far more important than a vendor. Sales then becomes a source of insightful knowledge and valued counsel.
Once this is accomplished, the buyer and seller will embrace a connected relationship that passes data, product and information back and forth as dictated by the customer’s needs.
The full potential of the connected, smart product will be realized, and the promise of a beneficial buyer/seller partnership built on connectedness will be fulfilled.