The Challenger Sale


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challenger saleThe Challenger Sale represents the best new sales material out in decades.

Access is one of the biggest issues facing sales professionals today. Sourcing contacts is not necessarily difficult, but getting their attention or engaging them in progressive dialogue is tougher than ever.

Prospects no longer tolerate unprepared sellers, as it has become very rare to find an executive willing to sit through old school questions such as: What keeps you up at night? Or, tell me about your business?

Prospects expect you to know their business… not just their business but what the leading companies in their space are doing related to your offering. In short, you must have a Point of View (POV).

A Point of View is critical and the book The Challenger Sale, by By Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson of CEB, highlights the trends that shape the need for a POV:

  • Consensus based purchasing
  • Risk aversion
  • Customization – everyone wants it but no one wants to pay for it
  • Use of 3rd party consultants

Their work is research based and highly professional, and demonstrates that nothing is more critical to sales success than your client’s experience with your sales process… not your product, brand or service.

The book profiles five types of Sales Professionals:

  1. The Hard Worker
  2. The Challenger
  3. The Lone Wolf
  4. The Relationship Builder
  5. The Reactive Problem Solver

They argue convincingly that THE CHALLENGER far outpaces ALL others… and the data backs them up.

As I read this book, it made me feel good about my own approach to selling. Sure, I work hard and constantly seek to build relationships, but I’ve always been a challenger.

As an example, I worked as a recruiter in the residential real estate developer markets prior to joining the tech sector more than twenty years ago. We specialized and had market-leading capabilities related to delivering employment candidates (acquisition, development, housing professionals and the like).

There were two basic approaches toward getting new clients.

1) Many recruiters would do their prospecting calls and present the qualities of our organization (industry expertise, specialized candidates, exclusive focus, etc.).

2) The rest of us were challengers. We made our prospecting calls, too. But, instead of trying to gain attention by spouting off all of the distinctive qualities of our boutique firm, we put a candidate forward. That’s right. We didn’t know if they needed a Director of Development, we simply pitched the candidate in a confidential and anonymous manner.

Our approach of putting a valid candidate forward served to remove any questions about the quality or distinction of our firm’s specialization in residential real estate developer markets.

You’d be right to assume that most of the time we would be talking to an executive that didn’t care about a Director of Development candidate. But, they DID have other staffing needs and by manifesting a five-start candidate, we demonstrated the qualities that made our boutique firm so successful.

The approach was much more effective that spouting off features and benefits.

We challenged the prospect to hear our story, and that allowed us to sustain the dialogue and qualify the potential of the account.

We were challengers.

Keep in mind that Jim Cathcart’s Relationship Selling will never be dead, as people buy from people and doing business really should be friendly.

But today’s enterprise decisions rarely rest with one individual executive, as consensus drives corporate spend. Having a strong relationship with key decision makers will always be an advantage, but today’s deals require broad stakeholder agreement.

At Empowered Sales Training, we leverage deep personal experience, gems from industry icons, classic sales methodologies and innovative practices to empower sales success.

The Challenger Sale may be new material, but it was a classic upon publication.

The book not only reveals the power of a POV, it demonstrates how to get there:

  • Teach differentiation
  • Tailor for resonance
  • Take control
  • Maintain a constructive tension based on client value

I encourage you to read this book:

The Challenger Sale
How to Take Control of the Customer Conversation
By Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson of CEB

Empowered Sales is not licensed to teach, nor has any other relationship with the people or organization offering The Challenger Sale. We simply appreciate good material and are confident that our audience will appreciate the recommendation.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kevin Graham
Kevin Graham is an author, speaker and expert on empowerment, sales and leadership. As managing director of Empowered Sales Training, Kevin works with organizations to empower sales success. Formerly, Kevin was a top performing sales executive in the ultra competitive technology sector. He's qualified for President's Club status in three Fortune 500 companies, carried the Olympic Torch and played in a national championship.


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