The Magazine Inc. once reviewed the book titled “The Challenger Sale” and headlined the review The Challenger Sale: Not Very Challenging.
Inc.’s Geoffrey James was right when he pointed out that most of the methods described in the book is “advice that’s already been provided in tens of thousands of other sales books and training seminars”. He was probably also correct to call BS on the author’s claim that the recommendations are based on extensive scientific research. The data set/quality is a bit questionable for scientific research but that doesn’t mean that the advice in the book does not work.
Avazent has first hand experience in deploying the techniques described in the book along with The Challenger Selling™ Model and tools developed by the Corporate Executive Board – CEB (Challenger™ is a registered trademark of CEB).
What’s great with Challenger Sales
Anyone that has lead a sales team (or any other team for that sake) understand that you don’t go to war with the soldiers you want, but with the soldiers you have. Challenger Sales is really a packaged model for helping management create a winning sales TEAM, rather than focusing on the individual sales rep’s skills alone.
For a newly appointed VP of Sales that is challenged to quickly increase revenue while decreasing the cost of sales, CEB’s ready to deploy questionnaires, templates, and educational material comes in very handy. It’s a proven model to use for someone that don’t have the time to reinvent the wheel.
It's not necessary to reinvent the wheel in order to increase salesChallenger Sales is a packaged model for helping management create a winning sales TEAM, rather than focusing on the individual sales rep’s skills alone.
Five profile types that B2B sellers fall into
In the last decade as the selling environment changed, CEB sought to understand what makes top-performing sellers successful. They conducted a survey of more than 6,000 sales professionals across industries around the globe and identified five profile types that B2B sellers fall into:
- Relationship Builders focus on developing strong personal and professional relationships and work hard to resolve tensions in the commercial relationship.
- Hard Workers will make more calls in an hour and conduct more visits in a week than just about anyone else on the team.
- Lone Wolves are deeply self-confident. They are the rule-breaking cowboys of the sales force who do things their way or not at all.
- Reactive Problem Solvers focus on post-sales follow-up, ensuring that service issues related to implementation and execution are addressed quickly and thoroughly.
- Challengers use their deep understanding of their customers’ business to push their thinking and take control of the sales conversation. They’re not afraid to share even potentially controversial views and are assertive—with both their customers and bosses.
When looking at average sellers, CEB found a fairly even distribution across all five of these profiles. But while there may be five ways to be average, there’s only one way to be a star. Challengers dominate the high-performer population, making up close to 40% of star sellers in our study. Additionally, Challengers dramatically outperform the other profiles, particularly Relationship Builders.
What makes the Challenger Selling™ model different?
Challenger sellers are defined by three key capabilities. Challengers:
- Teach their customers.
- Tailor their sales message to the customer.
- Take control of the sale.
Avazent’s role in implementing Challenger Sales
Avazent help organizations implement Challenger Sales in their organizations. A CEB membership will grant access to a lot of tools and templates, but even so the implementation will require strong leadership. That’s where Avazent come into the picture. We help with the change management process, design a sales process that is optimal for our specific client and support the education process.
The Challenger Sale was developed in the United States and has to be adapted for European customers in order to be effective. For example, cultural aspects has to be taken into consideration for “Taking Control of the Sale” not to backlash.
An intricate, and frequently overseen, part is that all sales reps need marketing support. Challenger Sales builds on the sales rep presenting compelling insight to customers in order to get their ear. In today’s competitive B2B business climate that compelling insight HAS to be VERY insightful. If not, the customer will not take that first meeting or there won’t be a second meeting.
Avazent will help define what customers will find interesting and create written content with interesting graphics that the sales reps can leverage in presentations or simply refer customers to download it on their website. We have found that Challenges Sales work very good together with an Inbound Marketing strategy. In the B2B world, Inbound Marketing doesn’t necessarily have to mean deploying a blog with one or two posts every week. Content that is compelling enough will have a much longer lifespan. The trick is to figure out what content that is in a specific industry.