Book Summary: The Challenger Sale

According to Dixon and Adamson in their book The Challenger Sale, customers place the most value on salespeople who make them think, bring fresh ideas to them, and find inventive methods to benefit their organization.

Customers want salespeople to tell them things they don't already know. These are the primary competencies of Challengers, the new sort of salesperson we should hire.

For the following 10 minutes, follow us as we learn more about the Challenger and manage the customer dialogue.

Lesson 1: Sales Reps R Us

A sales rep calling their customer and building relationships with them.

According to Dixon and Adamson, there are five different categories of salespeople.

Type 1: Hard Workers

Hard workers arrive on time, stay late, and are always eager to go above and beyond. They put their nose to a grindstone, are self-motivated, and aren't easily discouraged.

Type 2: Relationship Builders

These salespeople focus on cultivating personal and professional customer champions. Their bread and butter is a cappuccino and a cheerful talk.

Type 3: Lone Wolves

Lone wolves are so self-assured that they follow their instincts and disregard all of our norms. They increase sales, but not in a way that we are confident in repeating.

Type 4: Reactive Solvers

These salespeople are dependable and detail-oriented. They make certain that all commitments are honored once the transaction is completed.

Type 5: The Challengers

Dixon and Adamson defined Challengers as salespeople who know their customers' businesses and push them to think more deeply and creatively. Challengers aren't scared to cause a stir.

So, which of these personality types do you have at your workplace?

According to logic, the connection builder should be the most successful profile, and many firms appear to agree. Dixon and Adamson, on the other hand, disagree. They claim, and their data backs them up, that customers want the Challenger to serve them.

Challengers can expand the customer's knowledge throughout the sales engagement because of their unique viewpoint on the customer's business and their ability to participate in strong two-way communication.

Challengers can convey the correct message to the right person within a customer's company because they have a superior grasp of their economic and value concerns. Challengers can also guarantee that the appropriate fee is paid. They are at ease talking about money and can persuade the buyer to accept the best offer.

However, familiarity isn't enough to obtain a competitive advantage regardless of how great a client connection is.

As Dixon and Adamson point out, a customer check-in call might be a wonderful way to locate a business. Still, it's not a terrific way to build a business. Consequently, Relationship Builders are bound to fail in a world where the easy-to-find company has vanished.

Lesson 2: "I'd Like to Teach the World to Buy..."

A salesperson educating a client with unique perspective on their business and evidence to entice them.

According to Dixon and Adamson, educating in sales is all about providing clients with unique perspectives on their business and presenting those opinions with zeal to entice them in.

Visits to find out what clients desire are common in sales interactions. But what if buyers are unsure about what they require? What if a customer's most pressing demand is figuring out what they need?

In such a situation, rather than asking customers, telling them would be a preferable strategy.

Challengers are known for doing just that. They win not by understanding their customers' worlds as well as they know their own, but by genuinely knowing their customers' worlds better than they know themselves. They're being taught something they don't know but should know.

The objective for challengers is to teach a new skill to the consumer. We haven't taught a consumer anything if we don't change the way they think and act.

So, how can we ensure that our sales training – or commercial training, as Dixon and Adamson call it – truly results in increased business? Here are three rules to follow...

Rule #1: Lead to Our Unique Strengths

Commercial education must be linked to an area where we outperform our competition. If this is the case, our instruction will focus on what we do better than anybody else, placing us in the greatest possible position.

However, there are two points to consider: we must be the best and understand what we are excellent at.

We're far more inclined to provide free advice than commercial teaching until we can eventually relate the insights we teach our clients back to capabilities only we can provide.

Rule #2: Challenge Customers' Assumptions

Whatever we educate our consumers must challenge their preconceptions and speak directly to their reality in ways they've never considered. Whatever information we present must cause them to reconsider their position.

Dixon and Adamson provide a useful method for recognizing this. We've struck the point when a consumer replies with a thoughtful pause. "What precisely does this entail for my business?" they question. "What else don't I know?"

Rule #3: Kick-off Action

We must persuade them to take action. Because customers are easily distracted, our messaging must be appealing enough to keep them focused. If they don't, they'll end up like Doug from the Pixar film "Up," who gets distracted by every squirrel.

Lesson 3: The End Solution

A salesperson going through the process of giving the end solution to the client.

What is the best approach to make that compelling instructional pitch? Dixon and Adamson provide us with six stages.

Step 1: Tell and Show

A solid explanation or demonstration of our judgment of our customer's position is the foundation of a superb commercial training pitch.

Forget about the tired question, "What keeps you up at night?" We should advise them about the significant issues that similar businesses are facing. Share examples of our work with other firms that are relevant to their experience.

According to Dixon and Adamson, customers will perceive it as a "get" rather than a "give." They will receive our educated perspective rather than educating us with facts we should have been capable of figuring out on our own.

Step 2: Stir the Hornet's Nest

Consider making the challenge even bigger by bringing in a new perspective. Link those challenges to either a larger problem or a greater opportunity than they didn't know they had.

After making the customer sit up, or even anxious, because of our insight, if they were able to ignore the initial threat, they will most likely be more aware of the larger uncertainty.

Step 3: The Evidence Is Clear

The third stage is to present a business case for why the difficulties from step 2 are worth our customer's time and effort.

This is the time for the numbers and data, which are generally presented in the first few minutes of a traditional presentation.

Now it's time to look at the genuine, often hidden, cost of the problem or the extent of the opportunity they'd entirely missed. We've all heard of the FUD Factor which stands for "fear, uncertainty, and doubt."

Step 4: Make It Personal

The customer must be included in the image. The fourth step is to ensure that the buyer recognizes themselves in the tale we're presenting.

A counter-argument like "interesting, but we're different" should be avoided. So, how do you fight the "we're not the same" argument?

You start by creating a picture of how previous firms similar to theirs have gone down a difficult path by participating in conduct that they will recognize as characteristic of their own.

Step 5: A New Hope

After that, you must persuade them of the solution. This is a point-by-point breakdown of the exact skills they'll need to generate money, save money, or minimize the danger we've just persuaded them to face.

Step 6: We've Just the Tonic!

Step 6's purpose is to show how our solution is superior to everyone else's.

As Dixon and Adamson point out, if our competitors are still in the race at this time, it means we either failed to uncover really distinct skills or failed to lead them as convincingly as we'd planned. Lead to rather than with. Bring them in on your plan.

Lesson 4: We Are One

A salesperson and a client working together to reach an end solution; going through the client's industry, business.

While we may expect affordability and readiness to modify a solution to be at the top of the list for decision-makers, these aspects are far less essential than extensive support and ease of doing business.

It turns out that the best way for a sales agent to gain the support of a decision-maker is to go through the client's team—identifying, nurturing, and motivating important customer stakeholders throughout the business.

So, how are we going to get there?

One of the most difficult challenges a typical salesperson faces when dealing with consensus-based buying is to customize the sales message to diverse stakeholders for optimum resonance.

Dixon and Adamson recommend that we begin at the most general level—the customer's industry—and work our way down, via the person's business, function, and, eventually, to that specific individual.

Tough? Yes. However, the great majority of the in-market sales message is not contextualized at any level, let alone at each of these levels for each type of stakeholder.

So we'll meet with our marketing team to see what's going on in terms of industry trends and current happenings.

Has a major rival just gone out of business? Is there any evidence of a significant merger? Is the customer growing or losing market share at a quick pace? What about changes in the law? What do recent press releases and financial statements say about the company's strategic priorities?

According to Dixon and Adamson, Challenger sales people aren't focused on what they're selling but rather on what the person they're interacting with is attempting to accomplish. The product is only a means to an end.

Lesson 5: Taking Control of the Sale

A challenger salesperson eventually closing the deal; taking over control throughout the sales process.

In a typical business day, the above scene occurs millions of times. After a customer meeting, a Relationship Builder leaves.

Pregnant Pause is a term used to describe a period during which So, what's next? They won't press too hard on the following stages — completing the deal – since they don't want to sabotage an otherwise great connection.

Challengers, however, recognize that the aim is to close a deal, not merely have a pleasant meeting; they are focused on getting things done. Challengers seize control throughout the sales process, not just at the conclusion. In fact, one of the best times to take control is right at the start of the transaction.

We have to admit that many sales possibilities that seemed realistic on the outside were little more than a customer's disguised "verification attempts."

In other words, the consumer has already decided on a seller to work with. Still, they want to make sure they're receiving the greatest bargain possible.

Because the client has no intention of buying from these other suppliers, salespeople are only permitted to meet with the junior contact, never with more senior decision-makers.

Challengers, especially at this early stage of the sale, know better. They promptly detect these "foils" and urge the contact for more access in return for ongoing dialogue.

If the consumer isn't interested, the Challenger isn't either. They are not going to squander their time. They've already moved on to the next project. Have you gained the courage to declare "enough is enough"?

"Lead and simplify," challengers say. Instead of presuming that the consumer understands how to acquire a sophisticated solution, they teach them how to do so.

As a challenger, we educate our consumers on topics they were previously unaware of. We have hundreds, if not thousands, of implementations under our belts, whereas this may be their first.

Seizing control means we understand the worth of those resources and don't squander them on a client who isn't serious about making a choice. The consumer must first purchase us and our viewpoint on the solution before they can buy our solution.

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