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Do You Really Understand What Your Customer Values?

It used to be that clients most strongly valued our product information, our responsiveness when approached, our ability to fulfill an order or request, and our ability to provide the best offering and/or price. All of these are still very important, but since the advent of the Internet, buyers have redefined what value means to them during the sales cycle.

Revenue Storm recently surveyed B2B and B2C companies and pitted these two sets of values against each other to determine which set clients valued more:

Value Category 1

  • Ability to fulfill an order or request
  • Ability to provide the best offering or price
  • Ability to respond and listen when approached

Value Category 2

  • Ability to challenge current thinking
  • Ability to proactively bring innovative ideas
  • Ability to provide thought leadership

82% of respondents valued the items in Category 2 over the items in Category 1.

Customers Have Redefined Value

Value Shift

This is an amazing result and a harbinger of the value shift happening in the marketplace today. Elements like fulfillment, overall value, and responsiveness are critical and will always be an important part of the value equation, however, they have become expected. They are a minimum requirement to even get into the game. Momentum has shifted toward our ability to deliver insight and thought leadership, and buyers weight these values heavily when selecting a business partner.

What buyers seek today is insight. Let me illustrate with a personal story.

Desperately Seeking Insight

My youngest son Justin began having health issues at the age of eight. He’d have bouts of stomach pain and diarrhea.  For months we tried all the standard remedies with no luck. We took him to doctor after doctor who employed their own treatments, also with no success.  Then Justin developed an even worse symptom—severe depression.  Every day, at home and at school, became emotionally taxing for him and everyone around him.  I can tell you that as a loving parent it was the most challenging and frustrating experience I have ever encountered.  Every day was a combo of pain, diarrhea, and emotional trials – and there was nothing I could do to stop it.  I wished I could take it on myself so he could get some relief.

That continued for two years until we finally got him diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.  By this time, however, it had become life-threatening because he was chronically dehydrated and anemic.  He got dark circles around his eyes, and the smallest amount of exertion would completely wipe him out.  His skin got yellow, and he got these sores around his mouth that refused to heal.  And to top it all off he developed insomnia, so he literally couldn’t get a break from it.  He’d crawl into bed with my wife and me, and we‘d try our best to comfort him.  To say that we were sad and frustrated doesn’t even begin to capture it.

Data And Information Is Not Insight

But at least, finally, we had something—we had a solid diagnosis.  Initially, I knew nothing of Crohn’s disease, but with a desire to save my son’s life I dove headlong into research and turned up thousands of pages of contradictory data on Crohn’s disease.  It was really overwhelming.  But it was my job, as Justin’s loving father, to turn data into something valuable—information and insight.

I desperately reviewed mounds of data.  I organized it, and slowly distilled it into a coherent picture (what I would call information).  I felt I understood Crohn’s—what it was and how it worked.  But I was still missing something.  I still needed a clear path of what to do with this information.  What I really needed was insight.

How This Relates To Sales

So let me tie this back to sales for a minute.  Prospects and clients are the same.  They have access to data.  They have access to information.  In fact, there was a time when clients valued data and information.  But that day is gone.  What clients want is insight.  They want help understanding and designing a clear path that will lead them to their desired outcome.

Just like I was looking for, clients want the actionable steps that understanding the information provides.

Finally – Insight!

Ultimately, I identified a few individuals who shared with me practical insights on how we might treat Justin’s condition in a non-steroidal, non-surgical way.  Within months of administering this regimen, Justin recovered and remains in complete remission to this day.  In fact this is a recent picture of Justin and I a Universal Studios in Florida.

I have tremendous respect and gratitude for these pioneering practitioners who helped me heal my son.  I share this story with you because these are the same emotions – respect and gratitude – that you engender in your clients when you provide them with genuinely valuable insights.

We can add value to clients by saving time for them synthesizing information into actionable Insight.

Getting Help for IBS/IBD and Autoimmune Conditions
While the specific solutions we used to help my son is not relevant to this book, it is however, important to me that these valuable insights reach those suffering from this condition. If you have family, friends, or know anyone who suffers from IBS, IBD or another autoimmune condition, please reach out to me via my website at via LinkedIn, or any other means. I will gladly help you. If I can save you the time I spent researching and the years of frustration we suffered, it will be well worth it.

What Makes Good Insight?

Three criteria make insight valuable:

  1. It must be relevant.
  2. It must be novel.
  3. It must be actionable.

Relevant – Relevance is both subjective and contextual. It is subjective because what is relevant to one person may not be relevant to another — one person’s signal is another person’s noise. At the same time, relevance is contextual. What proves to be a valuable insight affecting the business as a whole may not be very valuable to the janitor who is not greatly affected by it.

It doesn’t matter how valuable you feel your insight is. It only matters if the person you are talking to finds it relevant in their current context. Your prospect is the judge — not you.

Novel The insight you share must provide something new—something that is not already known. Again, this is subjective. What you know may be very different from what your prospect knows. New information to you may be old information to them and vice versa. As a Huthwaite study proves, clients find new insights regarding problems, solutions, and opportunities very valuable indeed. So much so, that they are willing to pay a premium for the solutions related to them.

Actionable The insight you share must be actionable—something they can do something about. If it doesn’t suggest an action they can take, your client won’t find it useful. Ideally, the insight you share will suggest something actionable that relates to the solution you provide.

While much more could be said about delivering insight, the basic formula for what makes good insight is:

Insight Formula


Closing Tip: Customers want more than data and information – they want insight.  Relevant + Novel + Actionable = Good Insight.

Until next time!


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