The Challenger Sale – Who paid for your last sales call?


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Would your prospect have paid you for the value they received from meeting with you or one of your sales executives on your last call with them?

This is a vexing question and it’s one of many vexing questions that have been on my mind since I read the “Challenger Sale“. It’s a question that should be keeping B2B sales enablement professionals, sales managers and sales professionals up at night.

This question is vital in a World where buyers can find everything they need to know about your products and services without having to speak to you.

On your last call, did you bring the gift of knowledge and insight? Did you educate the buyer on an industry issue or sub-optimal condition that you are aware of because of your domain expertise, view of the market, knowledge of their company and your unique understanding of how your capabilities can create value?

Alternatively, would the buyer have invoiced you for 40 minutes of their time that they felt you robbed from them on your last sales call because you occupied their time, but failed to bring any value?

I will introduce a couple of related concepts to begin to address the value of the sales call question.

Challenger Selling is not new to Top Tier Consultants

The Challenger Sales type has been identified as the most effective in selling complex B2B products and services. When we examine the attributes of “The Challenger” and what they are doing in more depth, we see behaviors and methods that are currently employed by successful consultants in tier 1 consulting firms.

What the Challenger is doing differently is that they are initiating a buying process by engaging in the identification and mentoring part of the IMPACT buying process.

IMPACT Universal Buying Process

buying process

Top tier consultants and “Challengers” are creating value with the leadership in the prospective organization by bringing a point of view to the table and an opportunity into focus….while making the buyer aware of the risks in their approach vs. alternatives.

Value Created Sales Engagement

challenger engagement

Challenger Selling is analogous to Value Created Selling.

The value-created selling concept is the crux of selling to early adopters of novel technology, discussed in the book “Why Killer Products Don’t Sell“.

Killer Products authors Dominic Rowsell and Ian Gotts spell out the challenges and opportunities in the value-created approach.

According to Rowsell and Gotts, “The Value Created buying culture occurs when the customer senses there is an opportunity but can’t describe it. It takes the supplier to bring it into clear focus and suggest a solution. An example might be an organization that has recognized they need to drive operational effectiveness and improvement, but it takes a supplier to show how they can engage their employees in adopting shared processes, how they will deliver it, and what a solution might look like”.

As described in The Challenger Sale, in many cases the customer will not know how to buy your Challenging solution because it is unique and no buying category exists; this suggests that you will require a value-created sales approach. Another case for a value-created approach is because your Challenger solution affects so many departments that a strong champion will be needed to get stakeholders on-board early to move the “opportunity” through the mentoring and positioning phases.

In both the Value-created and Challenger sales approaches the buying cycle starts with a deep dive to understand the problems the buyer is trying to solve

  1. The process starts with the creation of a sales and marketing messaging framework consisting of a deep dive into the prospective client’s business.
  2. Understanding the prospective buyer’s business goals, industry issues and competitive landscape and how products can be used to create value in that context to create value follows.
  3. Next we need to create a visual story that salespeople can use to position themselves as expert consultants and to challenge the status-quo and have their capabilities unfold naturally in conversation.challenger cover

When you have been through this exercise and trained
the sales team to tell your story, customers will begin

thanking you for your insight and you are on your way to making a challenger sale.

The Challenger Sale is highly recommended reading for sales, marketing and product management professionals and you can order it by clicking on the book cover.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mark Gibson
Mark Gibson has been at the forefront of developing sales and marketing tools that create clarity in messaging value for 30 years. As a consultant he is now engaged in helping sales, marketing and enablement teams to get clear about value creation. Clarity attracts inbound leads, clarity converts visitors into leads and leads into customers, clarity builds mindshare, clarity engages customers, clarity differentiates value, clarity helps onboard new hires clarity helps raise funds, clarity + execution win markets.


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