Salespeople need to come to the table as an expert first and foremost.

As someone who is passionate about helping professional B2B salespeople and leaders to become more effective and up the ante in a time where the whole sales landscape has changed, I have listened intently to professionals in that space, digested the most up to date theories and tested the market by conversing with buyers and sales professionals alike, there appears to be three key areas that determine a higher level of success for salespeople.

The Sales Triad, consists of the following three keys:

Personal Leadership that we see interwoven in many messages and is critical for a sales approach that is strong and is led with conviction.

Thought Leadership where the insight selling philosophy shows its value driven face and where all strong sales conversations focus and

Sales Leadership leveraging the hard skills based on success outcomes around profit, purpose and people.

The internet gives us plenty of perspectives around Personal Leadership and Sales Leadership but not many perspectives around Thought Leadership, or as some would call it, Insight Selling. So I’m sharing my own insights and thoughts here from a B2B sales angle.

First of all it’s important to understand the meaning of the word ‘insight’ and then put that into context around selling.


noun: the capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of someone or something.

So how does a salesperson sell an insight?

They need to come to the table as an expert first and foremost, and the foundations of that expertise are set in the following 4T’s model:

  • TRENDS across their industry
  • TRIGGERS across their customer’s business environment
  • TASKS across their buyers role and
  • TYPE of person their buyer is.

Understanding these four categories is the cost of entry into insight selling allowing a salesperson to speak with relevance and currency.

Speaking with relevance around the obvious is a step up from not being able to have conversations that drive value at all, but when you can up the ante again and have a conversation or write an article leading with your own original thoughts, sharing your individual perspective and using your unique voice then you are tapping into a skill that successful salespeople exercise naturally. By doing so, it allows people to buy you, as well as buy into what you stand for, your ideas and your insights.

The following are some categories where the thinking of a salesperson must change. It sheds some light and ideas around what they must do and what they can no longer do especially when with a buyer who knows what their problems are and what they potentially want.

People feel good when they have spent time with someone who thinks differently, who challenges in a constructive manner, who is controversial in a respectful way and who is provocative because it helps others to become innovative and imagine… what if…. it helps them reverse engineer and benchmark their new ideas.

When we have something to aspire towards, we are more motivated to shift our status quo and change is more sustainable. We must provide the same vehicle to our clients by way of sharing our insights in an inspirational and transformational manner and not just educate them and instruct them on products or specifics.

So here’s three activities (and insights) we can both finish on:

  1. Understand the implications of your buyers challenges before you meet and check in you are on the right track and use as a discussion point
  2. Create a list of questions and statements that will uncover the real buying criteria – before you have your meeting so you can be present in the meeting
  3. Create a messaging matrix that will allow you to be more agile and contextual in your value driven conversations and be familiar enough with it to go with the flow when you need to.

Lastly, as a bonus – be an ‘authentic authority’ in your field.

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Bernadette McClelland
Heading up Melbourne Sales and Sales Leadership Consultancy, 3 Red Folders, Bernadette McClelland works with CEOs, Business Owners and Sales Leaders in businesses that manufacture, distribute and supply capital equipment and tangible goods to create sales smart cultures. This enables and empowers these same businesses to connect, convert and close more business, faster by strengthening their commercial conversations. Bernadette has also proudly coached Harvard MBA students on their sales enablement curriculum • Been the Master Asia Pacific coach for Anthony Robbins across twelve countries • Been recognised internationally for her books and articles on leadership and sales transformation • Named in the Top 50 Speakers globally by Top Sales World for 2019 and 2020 • Been recognized as one of the 35 Most Influential Women In Sales globally by SalesHacker • Spoken on stages that include Paris and Portugal, Atlanta and Alice Springs, New Delhi, New South Wales and New York City, Bangkok and Brisbane, Chicago and Christchurch, Queenstown and Queensland, Melbourne and Minneapolis sharing her cutting edge thought leadership.