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Challenger reps are defined not by overly aggressive behavior, but by their ability to
teach new insights, tailor the message for different types of stakeholders and take control of the overall sales conversation. In contrast to Relationship Builders, who seek to resolve tension throughout the sale,
Challengers maintain a certain amount of constructive tension across the sale to keep it moving forward.
"When it comes to
star-performing sales profiles, there is a clear winner and a clear loser. The dominant performance of the
Challenger profile stands in stark contrast to that of the Relationship Builder profile, which represents only four percent of sales stars in complex sales. It's ironic given that Relationship Builder is the profile most sales leaders have placed the biggest bets on," says co-author
Matthew Dixon, managing director,
The success of the
Challenger profile is not surprising given that more than 53 percent of what drives B2B customer loyalty is the sales experience itself. While business customers perceive very little difference between suppliers in terms of brand, product, service and price, they perceive huge difference in terms of the quality of the sales experience.
"SPIN Selling" author
Neil Rackham notes in the book's forward that "Customers have been demanding more depth and expertise. They expect salespeople to teach them things they don't know. These are the core skills of
Challengers. They are the
skills of the future, and any sales force that ignores the message of this
book does so at its peril."
The good news for companies whose ranks are not already filled with
Challenger sales reps is that
Challengers aren't only born, they can be made. "Up to 80 percent of sales reps can become
Challengers when armed with the right
tools, training and coaching. Companies can immediately begin to leverage the un-tapped value locked away in the core of their sales force," says co-author
Brent Adamson, managing director,
CEB. "By transforming the existing sales force into a
Challenger sales force, companies can begin to realize the financial benefits associated with higher levels of sales performance."
Organizations that want to take advantage of the benefits
Challenger Reps deliver should:
Generate Buy In – From the senior-most executives to the sales force team members, an organization must form consensus and buy in to the Challenger vision as the new way forward for sales.
Identify Their Challenger Deficit – An organization first needs to assess their sales reps and determine what percentage of the team does and does not fit the Challenger profile. For those who do not, companies should help reps understand what it will take for them to close their skill gap.
Align Marketing Support – Sales should educate marketing on the value of customer insight in today's solutions selling environment and the crucial role marketing plays in generating teachable insights for sales reps to deliver to customers.
Reinforce Challenger Behaviors – A close working partnership between sales and human resources is a must in order to provide effective training and coaching for sales staff that reinforces Challenger behaviors on an ongoing basis.
For more information on the
Challenger Selling Model or to purchase a copy of "
The Challenger Sale," visit:
www.thechallengersale.com. To join the
Challenger discussion, visit:
LinkedIn: The Challenger Sale by CEB. "
The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation," is published by Portfolio, a division of Penguin Group
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SOURCE Corporate Executive Board