One definition of "challenge" is "a call to fight." It follows that a challenger is a confrontational person who's ready to pick an argument. That doesn't exactly sound like a star sales rep.
But out of five sales rep personas, the Challenger was the most successful, according to Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson's book The Challenger Sale. Least effective were Relationship Builders, often thought by sales leadership to be a company's best reps.
Does this mean that sales reps should become short-fused bullies? Not at all. Dixon and Adamson's definition of a Challenger certainly includes confrontation, but of the more constructive and less damaging sort. Challenger reps seek to teach prospects a new way of looking at their businesses, tailor their insights to all stakeholders within an organization, and take and retain control of the sale.
Because Challengers present new ideas to prospects -- sometimes solving problems that they didn't even know they had -- these salespeople deal with more resistance than the average rep. But since their primary objective is to push their customers, Challengers are comfortable staying the course. In the end, they might make fewer friends, but they inspire more loyalty -- and produce more sales.
Here are 17 of the most quotable takeaways from the book. Share the knowledge with your Twitterverse with a simple click.
1) "Widespread support for a supplier across their team is the number one thing senior decision makers look for in making a purchase decision." (Tweet this quote)
2) "A Challenger is defined by the ability to do three things: teach, tailor, and take control." (Tweet this quote)
3) "As critical as a strong customer relationship may be, familiarity alone isn't enough to win the business." (Tweet this quote)
4) "The ability to deliver unique insight is arguably the most powerful weapon in the Challenger's arsenal and the biggest driver of B2B customer loyalty." (Tweet this quote)
5) "What if customers' greatest need is to figure out exactly what they need?" (Tweet this quote)
6) "Over half of customer loyalty is a result not of what you sell but how you sell." (Tweet this quote)
7) "Your solution isn't the subject of your teaching but the natural outgrowth of your teaching." (Tweet this quote)
8) "Address each customer stakeholder as if he or she actually was the customer." (Tweet this quote)
9) "Being number one in the market is great, but unfortunately it isn't anything your customers really care about." (Tweet this quote)
10) "Taking control has to happen throughout the sale, lest it end up feeling fake to the customer." (Tweet this quote)
11) "World-class sales managers today are defined not just by their ability to coach to the known but to innovate around the unknown." (Tweet this quote)
12) "You can't be an effective Challenger if you're not going to push your customers." (Tweet this quote)
13) "Challengers know they're on the right track when they hear their customer say, 'Huh. I never thought of it that way before.'" (Tweet this quote)
14) "The common denominator for insight isn't geography, size, or industry -- it's a common set of needs." (Tweet this quote)
15) "There are several ways to be "customer-centric" that are actually bad for business." (Tweet this quote)
16) "Taking control is all about creating constructive tension." (Tweet this quote)
17) "Emotional impact is about making absolutely sure that the customer sees themselves in the story you're telling." (Tweet this quote)
What's your favorite takeaway or quote from The Challenger Sale? Share it in the comments.
Originally published Dec 3, 2014 6:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017