Recently there has been a great deal of attention placed on the importance of offering new insights to customers to win their business. Insight is a critical element of sales, but only as one piece of a holistic sales process. Insight alone is nothing more than data, and it certainly isn't enough to win new business or dislodge your competitors.
The sales process is a lot like gourmet cooking, with insights/data being comparable to the ingredients used to prepare the dish. High quality, fresh ingredients are paramount to creating quality dishes; but on their own, ingredients are just groceries sitting on the counter. And the best ingredients in the world won't matter if you don't understand the tastes and needs of those who will consume the meal, like preparing the world's best Lobster Newburg and then finding out your dinner guest is allergic to shell fish. Oops. Perhaps most important of all is the creative process of actually preparing the food. Once you understand the wants and needs of your dinner guest, have planned the perfect meal, and purchased the best ingredients, you still need the skills to take the information/ingredients, and make something amazing!
Consider the quality and source of the "insights" you bring to customers in pursuit of new business. If your revolutionary insights have not been researched and vetted to align with the needs of your customer organization's strategy and capabilities, they won't be received with much enthusiasm/appetite. Only with the benefit of the customer's perspective and input can we leverage our "insights" as a strategic advisor to the customer.
Once insights are gathered, how well are we positioned and prepared to share them with customers? Without the relationship or the skills to engage customers, we will not have the credibility to share our insights; and certainly not to challenge the current thinking or practices of customers and their organizations.
It takes specific skills - exploratory, relationship-building and diagnostic skills - to leverage data as the spring board to transform insights into solutions, win new business and become the preferred business asset to customers.