If you’re in sales and haven’t heard about “The Challenger Sale,” chances are you’ll be caught up in the buzz soon enough. The book, written by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson along with their team, investigates and presents an argument for the Challenger Sales model. The challenger associate thinks outside of the box, completes in-depth research on their customer’s business and educates the customer during the sales process. You can get more background about the Challenger Sale model in our blog, Why the Challenger Sale Methodology is a Top Sales Strategy.
Ok! Now that you’re up-to-speed, let’s dive in a bit deeper and talk about implementing the Challenger Sales strategies and tactics into your own business or sales team. If you’re a sales associate looking to enhance your own skill set and are taking it upon yourself to try the Challenger Sales model, that’s great! If you’re a sales leader/manager or business owner, it’s important to clearly communicate with your sales team before starting. Let them know you appreciate their hard work, and that this is a suggestion for testing and incorporating into their already successful style. It can be hard for someone to change, so make sure that you’re supportive and provide encouragement with constructive coaching to your team as they develop their new sales strategy plan.
Why Incorporate These Selling Strategies and Techniques?
The simple answer here is because it works! Dixon and Adamson note that top performers are twice as likely to use the Challenger Sales methodology than any other sales technique. The longer answer is that today’s customer is a Challenger customer. These are the individuals who are high-performing “steak-holders” (employees that are instrumental in making or breaking your sale), and we need to adjust our selling strategies and techniques to accommodate them. Customers can look up lots of information online including pricing and reviews on their own. They are very informed and their time is limited. They don’t necessarily need to build a relationship or feel a special connection with their sales associate. What they need is someone who is going to respect their time, learn and care about their business goals and show them the customized solutions they need.
Break it Down
So, how does the Challenger Sale model fit into these new Challenger customer needs? Let’s take a closer look at the book’s the Challenger Sales model steps : Teach, Tailor and Take Control.
“Teaching is all about offering customers unique perspectives on their business and communicating those perspectives with passion and precision in a way that draws the customer into the conversation. These new perspectives apply not to your products and solutions, but to how the customer can compete more effectively in their market. It’s insight they can use to free up operating expenses, penetrate new markets, or reduce risk.”
Sales Tip: The Teach step is all about organization and research. The goal is to learn your customers’ business better than they know it. In order to Teach and provide valuable insights, you must know the ins and outs of every aspect of your clients’ business. Teach isn’t about the discovery model, where sales associates ask tons of questions to find out what a customer is seeking. Teach is about already knowing what solutions and products your customer needs and explaining to them why your product is the best fit.
“Tailoring relies on the rep’s knowledge of the specific business priorities of whomever he or she is talking to—the specific outcomes that particular person values most, the results they’re on the hook to deliver for their company, and the various economic drivers most likely to affect those outcomes.”
Sales Tip: Tailoring is all about flexibility and being able to adjust in the moment. Do not use the same presentation for every customer. Consider the decision maker. What is most important to them? Make sure that every single sales presentation is personalized.
Take Control –
“A Challenger’s assertiveness takes two forms. First, Challengers are able to assert control over the discussion of pricing and money more generally. The Challenger rep doesn’t give in to the request for a 10 percent discount, but brings the conversation back to the overall solution—pushing for agreement on value, rather than price. Second, Challengers are also able to challenge customers’ thinking and pressure the customer’s decision-making cycle—both to reach a decision more quickly as well as to overcome that ‘indecision inertia’ that can cause deals to stall indefinitely.”
Sales Tip: Taking Control is not about being aggressive. Repeat, this is not about being aggressive. You don’t have to be rude to be assertive. However, this may mean you have to push your customer outside of their comfort zone and stand up for your point of view. The Challenger Sales associate is an out-of-the-box thinker, and they will often need to defend their reasoning.
Now’s the Time
There you have it -- the Challenger Sales methodology of Teach, Tailor and Take Control.
Dixon and Adamson recommend diving in 100 percent if you choose to embrace the Challenger Sales style, noting that only completing some of the steps some of the time could garner disappointing results and failure to close an important deal.
There’s no time like the present. As buzz about the Challenger Sales model continues to spread, you can be sure that more sales leaders will be hopping aboard the Challenger train. Get ahead by starting a conversation and training with your reps now.
A note to sales managers: using these ideas to increase sales can take some time. After all, your reps are human and this will change their entire approach. Don’t be surprised if you get some push back (an opportunity for you to test out your Challenger skills), but if they’re able to hang in there and perfect this technique, it will be worth it!
Want to learn more about what your customers think of the sales process? Call us at SurveyMe. We will get you the insight you need to provide the proper coaching to your sales team.