The Challenger Sales Method

“The Challenger Sale is about creating a new reality for the customer, one that requires them to question their existing beliefs and behaviors.”

– Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson

 
The Challenger Sale is a sales methodology developed by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson that focuses on teaching salespeople how to take control of the sales conversation and challenge their customers’ assumptions. The Challenger Sale methodology is designed to help salespeople differentiate themselves from their competition, build stronger relationships with their customers, and close more sales.

According to the Challenger Sale methodology, there are five different types of salespeople: the Challenger, the Hardworker, the Relationship Builder, the Lone Wolf, and the Problem Solver. The Challenger is a salesperson who is comfortable taking control of the sales conversation and challenging the customer’s assumptions. They are proactive and assertive, and are skilled at helping customers see the value of a new solution.

In complex B2B sales, 40% of high performers and 54% of all stars utilize The Challenger persona. So, the entire premise of the Challenger Sales Method is to learn and become more of a Challenger.
 

The 5 Types of B2B Salespeople


In B2B sales, there are 5 types of salespeople, the Hardworker, the Relationship Builder, the Lone Wolf, the Problem Solver, and the Challenger. But, the goal is become more of a Challenger, given the higher success rate this persona has with B2B sales. Here is some more information about each type:

The Hardworker: This type of salesperson is known for their tenacity and determination. They are willing to put in the extra effort to make a sale and are not easily discouraged by rejection. They are also skilled at building rapport with the customer and are able to maintain a positive attitude even in difficult situations.

The Relationship Builder: This type of salesperson is skilled at building rapport and trust with the customer. They use their interpersonal skills to create a positive and collaborative relationship with the customer, which can help to build trust and make the sales process more effective.

The Lone Wolf: This type of salesperson is independent and self-motivated. They are able to work effectively on their own and are comfortable taking a proactive approach to the sales process. They are also skilled at building rapport with the customer and are able to maintain a positive attitude even in difficult situations.

The Problem Solver: This type of salesperson is skilled at identifying and solving problems for the customer. They are able to think creatively and come up with solutions to the customer’s challenges, and are able to clearly communicate the value of those solutions to the customer.

The Challenger: This type of salesperson is skilled at challenging the customer’s assumptions and preconceptions about a product or solution. They are confident in their knowledge of the product and are not afraid to push back against the customer’s objections. They are also skilled at building rapport with the customer and are able to maintain a positive attitude even in difficult situations.
 

What is a Challenger?


A Challenger is a salesperson who takes a proactive and assertive approach to the sales process, guiding the customer through the decision-making process and helping them understand the value of the product. A Challenger is most successful when selling complex or innovative products and is designed to help the salesperson differentiate their offering from the competition.

The Challenger is knowledgeable about the product and its value proposition and uses this knowledge to educate the customer about the product and how it can solve their problems or meet their needs. The Challenger also challenges the customer’s assumptions and preconceptions about the product or their current solution, and may reframe the customer’s problem in a way that highlights the benefits of the product. The goal of the Challenger is to help the customer see the value of the product and how it can solve their problems or meet their needs.

In the Challenger sales model, the salesperson takes a consultative approach to sales and acts as a thought leader, sharing their expertise with the customer. The goal is to help the customer understand the value of the product and how it can solve their problems or meet their needs. The salesperson may also challenge the customer’s assumptions about their current solution and show how the product being offered is a better fit.

The Challenger sales model is designed to be highly interactive and involves a back-and-forth exchange between the salesperson and the customer. It is important for the salesperson to be well-prepared and knowledgeable about the product, as well as skilled in communicating and persuading the customer.

The Challenger Sale methodology involves several key steps:

Identify the customer’s current situation: This involves understanding the customer’s business objectives, challenges, and needs.

Identify the customer’s assumptions: This involves identifying the customer’s underlying assumptions about their situation and the potential solutions to their problems.

Challenge those assumptions: This involves proactively challenging the customer’s assumptions and helping them see new perspectives on their situation.

Propose a new solution: This involves proposing a customized solution that addresses the customer’s specific needs and challenges.

Close the sale: This involves persuading the customer to take action and make a purchase.
 

The 3 T’s of the Challenger Model


The “3 Ts” of the Challenger sales model are important because they represent the key elements that are essential to the success of the model. They help the salesperson effectively communicate the value of the product to the customer, address the customer’s specific needs, and guide the customer through the decision-making process.

1. Teaching: In the Challenger sales model, the salesperson acts as a thought leader and educator, sharing their expertise and knowledge about the product with the customer. The goal is to help the customer understand the value of the product and how it can solve their problems or meet their needs. The salesperson may use a variety of tactics and techniques to do this, such as sharing relevant data and research, asking questions to help the customer think more deeply about their needs, and providing examples of how other customers have successfully used the product.

2. Tailoring: In the Challenger sales model, the salesperson tailors their sales pitch to the specific needs and concerns of the customer. This involves gathering information about the customer’s needs, such as their goals, challenges, and decision-making criteria, and using that information to tailor the pitch to address those needs. The salesperson may also use this information to challenge the customer’s assumptions about their current solution and show how the product being offered is a better fit.

3. Taking control: In the Challenger sales model, the salesperson takes a proactive and assertive approach to the sales process, guiding the customer through the decision-making process and helping them understand the value of the product. The salesperson may challenge the customer’s assumptions or preconceptions about the product or their current solution, and may also reframe the customer’s problem in a way that highlights the benefits of the product. The goal is to help the customer see the value of the product and how it can solve their problems or meet their needs.
 

The Importance of Reframing


Reframing is a technique that is used to help the customer see the value of the product and how it can solve their problems or meet their needs. It involves rephrasing or reframing the customer’s problem or challenge in a way that highlights the benefits of the product being offered. This can involve:

Emphasizing the consequences of not solving the problem: By highlighting the potential negative consequences of not solving the problem, the salesperson can help the customer see the importance of finding a solution. This can help to create a sense of urgency and increase the customer’s motivation to find a solution.

Showing how the product can prevent negative consequences: By highlighting how the product can prevent the negative consequences that the customer is trying to avoid, the salesperson can help the customer see the value of the product. This can involve providing examples of how other customers have used the product to solve similar problems.

Comparing the product to the customer’s current solution: By comparing the product to the customer’s current solution, the salesperson can help the customer see how the product is a better fit for their needs. This can involve highlighting the limitations of the current solution and how the product can overcome those limitations.

Reframing the customer’s problem in a way that highlights the benefits of the product: By reframing the problem in a way that highlights the benefits of the product, the salesperson can help the customer see how the product is a better fit for their needs. This can involve rephrasing the problem in a way that emphasizes the benefits of the product or reframing the problem in a way that shows how the product can solve it more effectively.

Overall, reframing is a powerful technique that can help the salesperson effectively communicate the value of the product to the customer and help the customer see how it can solve their problems or meet their needs.
 

Tips to Building up Your Challenger


Educate yourself: To be effective in the Challenger sales model, it is important to have a deep understanding of your product and its value proposition. Make sure you have a thorough knowledge of the product’s features, benefits, and competitive advantages.

Use data and research: The Challenger sales model is based on thought leadership, and one way to demonstrate this is by sharing relevant data and research with the customer. This can help to support your claims about the product and its value.

Ask good questions: Asking the right questions can help you better understand the customer’s needs and tailor your sales pitch to address those needs. It can also help the customer think more deeply about their problem and how the product can solve it.

Provide examples: Sharing examples of how other customers have successfully used the product can help the customer better understand how it can meet their needs.

Reframe the customer’s problem: By reframing the customer’s problem in a way that highlights the benefits of the product, you can help the customer see the value of your solution.

Challenge the customer’s assumptions: Don’t be afraid to challenge the customer’s assumptions or preconceptions about the product or their current solution. By doing so, you can help the customer see the value of your product and how it is a better fit for their needs.

Build rapport and trust: Building a positive and collaborative relationship with the customer is key to the success of the Challenger sales model. Use your interpersonal skills to create trust and establish yourself as a thought leader and expert in your field.
 

Some Good Questions to Use with the Challenger Sales Method


Below are some good questions to use to become more of a Challenger:

“What are your goals for [area related to your product] in the next 6-12 months?” This helps you understand the customer’s priorities and how your product can help them achieve their goals.

“What are your current pain points or challenges in [area related to your product]?” This helps you understand the customer’s needs and how your product can solve their problems.

“How do you currently address these challenges?” This helps you understand the customer’s current solution and how your product compares.

“What would be the potential consequences of not addressing these challenges?” This helps the customer see the importance of finding a solution and can create a sense of urgency.

“How does our product address these challenges in a way that is different from your current solution?” This helps the customer see the value of your product and how it is a better fit for their needs.

“How do you envision our product fitting into your overall [area related to your product] strategy?” This helps the customer see the long-term value of your product and how it can fit into their overall plans.

“How do you see your current solution evolving in the next 6-12 months?” This helps you understand the customer’s plans for their current solution and how your product compares.

“What are the biggest risks you face in regards to [area related to your product]?” This helps you understand the customer’s concerns and how your product can help mitigate those risks.

“What other options have you considered in regards to [area related to your product]?” This helps you understand the customer’s other options and how your product compares.

“How do you see our product fitting into your budget for [area related to your product]?” This helps you understand the customer’s financial constraints and how your product fits into their budget.

“What would success look like for you in regards to [area related to your product]?” This helps you understand the customer’s desired outcomes and how your product can help them achieve those outcomes.

“If you were able to solve this problem, what would be the benefits to your business/organization?” This helps the customer see the long-term value of your product and how it can solve their problem in a way that has broader benefits.

Overall, the key to using these reframing questions effectively in the Challenger sales method is to ask them in a way that helps the customer see the value of your product and how it can solve their problems or meet their needs.
 

Implementing the Challenger Sales Method



Educate your team:
Make sure that your sales team has a thorough understanding of the Challenger sales method and how it differs from traditional sales approaches. This can involve providing training and resources that cover the key elements of the model, such as the importance of teaching, tailoring, and taking control. You may also want to provide examples of how the Challenger sales method has been successful in the past and how it can be applied to different sales situations.

Encourage a teaching mentality: Encourage your sales team to think of themselves as thought leaders and educators, rather than just order takers. Encourage them to share their expertise and knowledge about the product with the customer, and to use data and research to support their claims. This can involve providing resources and training that help them understand the product and its value proposition, and that teach them how to effectively communicate that value to the customer.

Focus on tailoring: Encourage your sales team to tailor their sales pitch to the specific needs and concerns of the customer. This can involve gathering information about the customer’s needs and using that information to tailor the pitch to address those needs. Encourage your sales team to ask good questions to better understand the customer’s needs, and to use that information to tailor their sales pitch to those needs.

Emphasize the importance of taking control: Encourage your sales team to take a proactive and assertive approach to the sales process, guiding the customer through the decision-making process and helping them understand the value of the product. Encourage them to challenge the customer’s assumptions and preconceptions about the product or their current solution, and to reframe the customer’s problem in a way that highlights the benefits of the product.

Monitor and track progress: Monitor and track the progress of your sales team as they implement the Challenger sales method. Use this data to highlight wins, identify gaps and struggling salespeople, and course correct.
 

Other Sales Methodologies

Solution Selling
Target Account Selling
SPIN Selling
The MEDDIC Selling Methodology
GAP Selling
The Challenger Sales Method
 

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