3 Critical Stages to Develop Commercial Insight

Marketing Predictions Guru Lisa Vitale If your prospects don’t buy your product or service, getting them to read your collateral doesn’t do much good. The key is changing behavior, and changing behavior is the value of commercial insight and “insight selling.”Rather than basing content strategies on features and benefits, insight selling seeks to redefine your prospect’s purchase criteria in favor of your solution by providing compelling insights with real commercial value – in other words, highlighting the connection between your differentiators and your prospect’s key concerns.  CEB,[i] the proponent of Challenger Marketing, defines a commercial insight approach as one which “elevates customer conversations and re-frames their needs and the way they assign value to your points of differentiation.”


Here are three critical stages to address in developing your own insights of commercial value:


Know your market – intimately.  Begin by determining in which market segment(s) your value prop is strongest, and then explicitly define who your customer is and what shapes their behavior:

  1. Build buyer personas to get “inside” your prospect’s mindset – survey current customers, prospects, and your client-facing team members to better discern buyer challenges, issues, influences, motivations, and goals.
  2. Understand your buyer’s ultimate goal and prioritize their primary concerns – on both the business and personal levels.
  3. Identify key business and industry segment drivers and sub-drivers.
  4. Map the relationships between all of these factors (goals, concerns, drivers, sub-drivers) to understand cause and effect.


Understand your offering in the context of your target market.  Your goal at this stage is to develop unique insights that will serve as a differentiator for your offering, as well as provide material value to your prospects, while spurring them into action.  With a firm and deep knowledge of your target market, you are primed to discover where you can best leverage your offering:

  1. Detail your offering’s differentiators and key strengths
  2. Explore where in your prospect’s relationship map you can inject intervention points to create new value or achieve a more effective, efficient result.  CEB identifies 3 types of interventions:
    1. Reveal a new or unrecognized driver
    2. Affect the magnitude of a driver, or demonstrate that its effect is different than imagined
    3. Surface a previously unknown relationship
    4. Test assumptions regarding your commercial insight(s) – begin with sales to refine your insight, before testing your idea(s) via prospect-style surveys or with existing customers


Generate differentiated, credible, and frame-breaking content.  Successful content must focus narrowly on your commercial insight to keep messaging sharp and direct, and prospects clear on the unique value you provide:

  1. Explicitly link your commercial insights with your strongest points of differentiation to ensure competitors don’t benefit from your new framing.
  2. Craft a compelling narrative from your new, insightful perspective – and substantiate it with data – to give prospects cause to question their conventional thinking.
  3. Create a strategic content plan around your viable and unique commercial insight.  All content should be tightly focused to disrupt prospect thinking, such that their purchase criteria are reset in favor of your solution.  Cut all content which doesn’t serve this purpose.


Commercial Insight

For example Kronos found that changes in the Affordable Care Act added important new requirements to retail dining establishments. Kronos then made changes in their offerings that addressed these requirements. This gave them a significant point of differentiation. They also used this knowledge as the core of a marketing campaign targeted at Workforce Management in Dining establishments.


The goal of a commercial insight approach is to break down common, narrowly-focused buyer perspectives by providing credible, relevant, and compelling connections between your differentiators and your prospects’ top priorities and goals.  In so doing, your differentiated offering is reframed not as a “nice to have,” but rather as a necessary and unique solution to your prospects’ most urgent needs.  Having tested your insights with existing customers or via prospect surveys, will provide you with valuable feedback, as well as a goldmine of data and content from which you can craft highly compelling messaging.


[i] http://www.executiveboard.com/exbd/marketing-communications/index.page?