The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation

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What’s the name of the game to sales success? If you’re like most business leaders, you’d say it’s fundamentally about relationships-and you’d be wrong. The best salespeople don’t just build relationships with customers. They challenge them.

The need to understand what top-performing reps are doing that their average performing colleagues don’t seem to be drove Matthew Dixon, Brent Adamson, and their colleagues at Corporate Executive Board to investigate the skills, behaviors, knowledge, and attitudes that matter most for high performance. And what they discovered may be the biggest shock to conventional sales wisdom in decades.

Based on an exhaustive study of thousands of sales reps across multiple industries and geographies, The Challenger Sale argues that classic relationship building is a losing approach, especially in the case of selling complex, large-scale business-to-business solutions. The authors’ study found that every sales rep in the world falls into one of five distinct profiles, and even as all of these types of reps can deliver average sales performance, only one-the Challenger- delivers consistently high performance.

Instead of bludgeoning customers with endless facts and features about their company and products, Challengers approach customers with unique insights about how they may be able to save or make money. They tailor their sales message to the customer’s specific needs and objectives. Moderately than acquiescing to the customer’s every demand or objection, they are assertive, pushing back when necessary and taking regulate of the sale.

The things that make Challengers unique are replicable and teachable to the average sales rep. Once you understand how to identify the Challengers in your organization, you’ll be able to model their approach and embed it all the way through your sales force. The authors provide an explanation for how almost any average-performing rep, once equipped with the right tools, can successfully reframe customers’ expectations and deliver a distinctive purchase experience that drives higher levels of customer loyalty and, ultimately, greater growth.

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