The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Costumer Conversation
The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Costumer Conversation by Matthew Dixson & Brent Adamson
Starting to read the book, I wasn´t sure what to expect but the title was so interesting to me, that I had to choose this book. The name suggests, that selling is a challenging task especially in B2B sales and I was positively surprised that it started with a new approach on selling based on a large-scale study on successful sales representatives. The sales experience is a very important key for keeping loyal customers.
According to the study sales representatives fall into 5 different profiles based on skills and interaction with their customers which are the following:
- Hard Worker
- Lone Wolf
- Relationship Builder
- Problem Solver
The most successful is The Challenger who is described to love debating, can pressure the customer, is comfortable discussing prices, has strong 2-way communication skills, has a strong understanding of the business of the customer and can identify the economic & individual customer value drivers and has a unique perspective.
Old sales solutions are not that effective anymore as customers are feed up with them. The book goes in more detail about the challenger model and why it works better than the other profiles.
3 different things are important: teaching, tailoring and taking control.
Their approach is the so called “commercial teaching “, which shows the customer how to think what their need is. It should lead to the sellers’ uniqueness, why the customer should buy from them and not any other business. Furthermore, it should make the customer understand why they need to act now and not wait to buy. Additionally, the seller should deliver an insight on the target market and show the customer a different view on their problem.
The components of a good sales pitch are described as follows: building credibility & understanding the customers problem, trying to tie the problem to a bigger opportunity, showing them numbers and statistics to underline the solution, trying to get them emotionally involved by telling a story, convincing and showing them why this solution is the best possible option.
Tailoring the sales pitch is crucial as well. Getting the right customer response is important and the pitch should be directed to the person who will make the buying decision as the concerns of people in different positions of a company vary.
Taking control is the last step which shows the target customer the value and is usually difficult as pricing is always a difficult topic. Concentrating on the value offered is key.
Another topic in the book I found interesting and possibly helpful for the case was the description of the PAUSE framework which is a system that helps sales managers to coach their sales representatives.
PAUSE stands for
P reparation for the coaching conversationà preparing for the conversation
A ffirm the relationshipà creating a safe environment
U nderstand expected behaviourà understand what to look for in the opposites behaviour
S pecify behaviour changeà observing behaviour changes
E mbed new behaviourà give tools to implement suggestions, like action-plans
There are many reviews on the book as well that voice critical options about the system.
Not every sales representative can implement the challenger approach and other sales methods are effective depending on the given situation and prospect.
I personally agree with the fact that this approach is not suitable for everyone, depending on the situation and if the sales person feels comfortable with it. Regarding the given case there are some helpful suggestions. Understanding the customers challenges and trying to show them the opportunity they could have if they would use our services/products.
I chose this book, because of my previous work Ive done in a callcenter. Not only were we all about customer satisfaction; meaning helping them out with their issues; no the main point was of course to bring profit to the company while doing that. We had to prepare for every single customer we called. Who are they, what do they do and what is their need. Calling them, the first thing was to build up trust. ‘’Im here to help you’’. Sometimes we had to have long conversations, even if we didn’t want to. But the goal here was to create a safe environment for the customer and to understand their behaviour. With these insights we had to think very quickly how to get the product to the man. Me and also my collegues, were creating different approaches for different kind of people to create a certain need for the product or the feature. If that worked, we still had to keep going on. Some customers were happy and totally convinced. But most of them wanted the safety of a follow up; or several follow ups. With the product and with the results. So we had to create a plan with the customer to continue the sale process.
Selling is a very hard job. One needs an incredibly good understanding of the customer and the product ,in order to make a product or service suitable for the buyer.