Rise of the Challenger Marketer: What it means & how to be one


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The Challenger Sale is arguably the most important sales book written in the past five years.  It’s not entirely original ideas, but that’s not the point.  More than perhaps anything else, this book and its core ideas are accelerating how sales professionals take a proactive, customer-centric approach to their daily work.

That said, The Challenger Sale could also be described as one of the most important marketing books of the last few years.  Unfortunately, many marketers are still not needing its lessons in their own efforts.

This is important for several reasons.  One, too many marketers still focus on their product and services, rather than their customer’s pain, problems and needs.

Two, if we’re to believe the reports that up to 74 percent of the sales process is completed by the time buyers actively engage sales, that means that marketing (not sales) now owns the majority of the sales process.

And three, the story marketing tells needs to align directly with the perspective and story that sales tells.  If sales takes a teach, tailor and take control approach, marketing needs to do the same.  Anything less introduces artificial friction into the buyer/seller relationship.

It’s time to challenge ourselves to embrace our role as Challenger Marketers.  Based on the core tenets of the book, this means:

1. Teach
Our primary interactions with new prospects needs to focus on their needs and education, not our products and features.  It needs to introduce ideas that help make those prospects better before we make dollar one, let alone have them in our active opportunity pipeline.  It means making your initial marketing interactions, and the value it provides, something the prospect would actually have paid for if given the choice.  Yes, that’s a high bar, but it’s something Challenger Marketers should aspire to.

2. Tailor
Long gone are the days of one-size-fits-all marketing.  We have the tools now to have one-to-one relationships with every prospect, based on their individual roles, needs and real-time buying signals.  At minimum, the challenge to taylor our marketing requires deeper understanding of the distinct personas involved in the buying process & buyer’s ecosystem.  At best, it means creating real-time, tailored experiences through our content, marketing automation platforms, predictive analytics and social engagements.  This again is a high bar, but there are plenty of places to get started down this path.

3. Take Control
When you do these things right, you earn the right to take control of the conversation.  You earn the right to push the prospect forward based not on your objectives, but their desired outcomes.  When you make their business case (rather than your own), you are there and forward evangelizing their needs, not yours.  And when Challenger Marketers embrace this opportunity, it sets up sales to continue the conversation with momentum and velocity that increases close rates and market share growth.

For organizations that are already embracing The Challenger Sale (or at least more general levels of its tenets), this is also an accelerating opportunity to drive greater integration between the sales and marketing organizations.

We have much more to say on this topic, including more detail on the three tenets above for Challenger Marketers and recommendations for the systems, tools, processes, etc. that can help Challenger Marketers to execute.

Curious in the meantime your perspective on this…

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.


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