The Challenger Sale: 4th sales breakthrough in the past 100-years?


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“The Challenger Sale is potentially the 4th sales breakthrough in the past 100-years.”

That’s a bold statement made by Neil Rackham, the researcher behind 10k salespeople and 35k sales calls in the 70’s that lead to SPIN Selling.

To find out why, I just completed a video interview with Matt Dixon, co-author of the Challenger Sale and Executive Director of the Corporate Executive Board. (Click here for video interview).

After interviewing 20k salespeople, Matt said that they found that salespeople fell into 5-catagories; 1) The Hard Worker; 2) The Challenger; 3) The Relationship Builder; 4) The Lone Wolf and; 5) The Reactive Problem Solver.

But what was most startling was that in complex sales, 54% of the star performers (top 20%) were Challengers and Relationship Builders were virtually non-existent at only 4%.

This was the opposite of what most sales leaders expected.

Matt believes it’s a result of a change in the way a customer buys. For example, with the proliferation of information and advice on the internet, a customer is already 60% of the way through their buying decision by the time they reach out to a salesperson. As a result, they don’t need information from a salesperson, they need insight.

In fact, according to a recent study, 53% of customer loyalty is a function of the salesperson’s ability to deliver insight that challenges the way the customer thinks about the world.

Neil Rackham adds that the salesperson today needs to deliver a sales experience that the customer would be willing to pay for!

What customers don’t want is for the salesperson to show up and throw up and talk about features and benefits. And surprisingly, they don’t want the salesperson to show up and deliver a series of open ended questions- death by interrogation- because that also delivers no value.

They want insights.

At Insight Demand, we teach salespeople insight based selling through the power of storytelling. This enables your salespeople to challenge your customer’s thinking without challenging the customer. The result is that instead of just pitching product and reducing price, your salespeople will now link your unique capabilities to your customer pain points in a way that will inspire them to buy.


PS: In the next video interview, Matt answers the question “How do you challenge the customer’s thinking without challenging the customer?” Click here for video interview. Hint, the answer is to deliver insight based stories that are set-up by hypothesis based selling.

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