The Challenger Sales model & its relevance in the selling models of the future..


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I recently read the book – The Challenger Sale and would like to share my impressions from the book.

My personal opinion on the relevance of this model:

  1. In order to succeed this model requires a change in the culture of the sales organization (from top to bottom), which we have observed is a very very difficult thing to achieve. Very few organizations have leaders who are capable of driving such a change initiative to success.
  2. As this book is based on the research on reps that were successful in selling when everyone else was failing, this assumes that what worked in the economic downturn will work always. Though I do agree with some of the components of the model, I do not think that this is a long term solution that will change the way B2B sales organizations will function in the future.
  3. This model is still built around the seller and not around their customers or prospects.
  4. The innovation in sales models for the future is still due.

Some impression from the book:

This book has come from the findings of a long and serious study of sales organizations and their customers feedback over a long time. As with all findings from a survey, I would take the findings with a grain of salt.

The entire set of recommendations flow from the study of the sales reps who were successful when everyone around them failed to hit quota and expands from there.

The key message from the book is the following:

If you want to succeed in B2B selling in the future, you need to be able to incorporate a challenger mindset in your sales teams and back it up with building a corresponding culture & support capabilities in the sales organizations

So, what constitutes a “Challenger mindset” for a sales rep:

  • Ability to offer customers a unique perspective
  • Strong two-way communication skills
  • Understanding of the individual customer’s value drivers
  • Comfortable discussing money
  • Ability to pressure customer
  • Creates and maintains a creative tension with the customers

What is the Challenger sales model:

A sales model through which you are consistently able to maintain a creative tension with your customers and prospects by:

  1. Teach them for differentiation
  2. Tailoring the message based on the recipeint and his value drivers
  3. Taking control of the sales process (from start to finish and not just during the final negotiation phase)

Let’s consider each of these a bit more elaborately:

Teaching for differentiation:

The primary argument here is that as a supplier, it is getting increasingly important for you to know more about your customers business and to be able to bring insights to your discussion with them. So much so, that you are able to get your customers to see their business in new lights.

Every interaction with you, would then be something that they will look forward to rather than dread.

The most important aspect of this activity is to ensure that all of these insights lead the customers to a problem that they would like to solve and which could be best solved by the products or solutions that only you can provide.

So, it is about using insights to show your customers challenges or missed opportunities that they currently do not see in their business, leading to your unique strengths as a solution provider to address the very same challenge or opportunities

Also, the capability to develop such insights for each of your customers or prospects is something that the entire organization needs to develop and then equip their sales reps with these insights and enable them to scale to other customers.

Tailoring for resonance:

B2B selling is getting more and more complex as decision makers in the buyer organizations do not sign the dotted line until there is enough buy-in from with-in their organization for the supplier.

So, it becomes important that the sales executives are able to garner this support even before they approach the decision makers. In order for them to be able to do so, they need to be able to identify the value drivers for each layer of the organization and have insights led conversations with each of them, tailored to their view of world.

Taking control of the sale:

This is the ability of the representative to be able to create momentum in the customer/prospect organization for the selling process. His/her ability to predict/identify roadblocks and being able to move them.

This also means that he or she is able to keep the discussion ahead and also getting more buy-in across the organization.

This is a key skill that the sales rep needs to build. The other two components of this model is more an organizational capability.

Have you read this book as well? Do let me know your thoughts on the book and the model itself? Also, do you know of any other book that you think proposes the sales model of the future.. Do let me know your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting your thoughts to me at @rmukeshgupta.

PS: The introduction to the book by CEB is below:

Another review of the book:

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mukesh Gupta
I currently work for SAP as Customer advocate. In this capacity, I am responsible to ensure that the voice of the customer is being heard and play the bridge between customers and SAP. Prior to joining SAP, I have worked with different organizations serving in different functions like customer service, logistics, production planning & sales, marketing and business development functions. I was also the founder-CEO of a start-up called "Innovative Enterprises". The venture was in the retail & distribution business. I blog at


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