These days, almost every new hire in sales is told to read "The Challenger Sale."

It's a great book based off one of the largest studies ever done in sales. Problem is, when you're learning how to sell on the job with a giant quota hovering over your head ... you don't have any time to read.

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That's why this post is a five-minute review of the Challenger Sales Approach. (I also summarized the entire 240-page book into 15-pages for those looking to read the whole book in sparknotes fashion. Grab it here.)

The Challenger Sale research revealed that every B2B sales rep falls into five different profiles.

These profiles define the skills and behaviors sales reps use when interacting with customers. They also describe a rep’s natural mode of interacting with a prospect, and are not mutually exclusive –


The “Challenger Approach” to sales most correlated with actual sales performance among high performers.

... hence the name of the book. In the study, they found that –

  • 40% of high sales performers primarily used a Challenger style - as opposed to one of the other four sales styles the book to tweet
  • High performers were more than 2x likely to use a Challenger approach than any other approach. click to tweet
  • More than 50% of all star performers fit the challenger profile in complex sales. click to tweet
  • Only 7% of top performers took a relationship-building approach – the worst performing profile. click to tweet

We should note that the Challenger approach only worked better among high performers. Among average performers, all profiles were roughly as successful as one another.

This is a disruptive finding, as most sales training and sales teams today are geared towards creating and encouraging the "Relationship Builder," the least effective of the five profiles.

The Challenger Sales Model believes all five sales profiles can learn to be a Challenger.

The Challenger Sales Model is an approach to sales that is tailored to how the Challenger teaches, tailors, and takes control.

The Challenger Sales Model believes with the right training, coaching, and sales tools, all reps -- even those falling into one of the other four categories -- can take control of the customer conversation like a Challenger.

The book also discusses the fundamental principles serving as the foundation for this sales model. They are as follows:

  1. Challengers are made, not just born
  2. It's the combination of skills that matters
  3. Challenging is about organizational capability, not just rep skills
  4. Building the Challenger sales force is a journey, not an overnight trip

By embracing these principles as you implement the Challenger Sales Model, you'll take your organization on a transformative journey turning traditional solution selling on its head.

To learn more about Challenger sales reps and their specific traits and tactics, feel free to download our full summary of the book here.

Want more? Read 16 Brain Training Books That Will Dramatically Boost Your Thinking.

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Originally published Mar 15, 2018 6:51:00 PM, updated January 25 2019


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