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Sales Insight Roundup: Challenging The Status Quo from Business Metaphors to Sales Strategy

The sales insight roundup gathers news, research and provocations from thought leaders in sales and leadership. Here’s what we found interesting this week:

Finding the Right Metaphor for Your Presentation

From HBR

Very few people, if any, can come up with a brilliant metaphor on the first try. When we’re brainstorming in our shop, we write down the obvious choices right away just to get them out of our brains. After pushing past those, we’ll start to come up with more creative ideas. If we’re trying to illustrate partnership, we might begin with a cliché like a handshake in front of a globe but then move on to a reef ecosystem, for instance, or a photo of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

If you’re feeling stuck, start naming random objects and then try to make a connection between those and your concept. This simple exercise might not lead to the metaphor, but it will jumpstart your brain…

Are metaphors really worth that much effort? I’d answer that question with another: How important is it for your audience to understand and embrace your idea?

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Our Take: Metaphors can be powerful communicators of your ideas…and they have the potential to be powerfully off-putting when they only remind your audience of tired clichés. Revisit the metaphors you commonly use with Nancy Duarte’s recommended thought exercise. What clichés can you push past?

Insight v. Fact – Impacting the customer to seller relationship


Customer: We are having an onboarding problem with our financial advisors that we need to address.

Sales person: That’s interesting. According to a study by IDC, those companies that leverage technology to reinforce their sales process have about 90% of their sellers attaining quota more consistently. Can you tell me a bit more about your specific onboarding problem?... The insight delivered here is simply a fact! There is a critical action that needs to take place involving sequencing. You see, problems need ideas, not facts! Stating the “insight” (in this case a fact by definition) is out of sequence at this point. However, most sellers do this as one way to gain credibility with the customer. Meaning that the seller is trying to deliver his/her true insight, which we agree is a deeper level of understanding. Has that actually happened, has insightfulness been delivered? I’m not convinced and neither should you!

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Our Take: “Insight” has been a hot topic in the Sales world. Everyone wants to have it, and a lot of organizations think they do have it. It’s worth considering this thought provoking example further. Are your salespeople providing anecdotal facts, or are they walking the prospect through a process of realization? How are you evaluating the insightfulness of sales conversations? What is being done to equip salespeople to lead customer conversations that deliver real value?

A List of Goals Is Not a Strategy

From HBR

Let’s say you’re getting together with other managers and employees to develop your organization’s or unit’s strategy. No matter how much discussion and enthusiasm you bring to the task, you’re likely to emerge with a list…When you’re done, you might scratch your head and reflect: I think this looks OK. It doesn’t. It contains what might be called goals, objectives, actions, and vague statements of intent — but alas, no strategies.

So how do you really create strategy, rather than end up with a hodgepodge list like this? By following these steps:

Identify which stakeholders you depend on for success… Recognize what you want from your stakeholders… Recognize what your stakeholders want from you…

If you’ve been struggling to develop strategy and write your strategic plan, what you may have been missing up till now is a method. These steps will help. Toyota doesn’t produce defect-free cars day after day without a system. Surgeons don’t operate on hearts and brains without clear procedures. You shouldn’t expect to design effective strategy without a process, either.

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Our Take: Identifying key stakeholders early on is the right step. Graham Kenny is on point when he highlights stakeholders as the key to putting together a successful strategy to accomplish all the goals on your organization’s to-do list.

Comment below with other articles you found interesting this week or comment with your opinion of the Insight Roundup articles.

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