Research from Gartner by Dixon & Adamson (2011) shows that customers are already more than halfway through the purchase process before even meeting a sales representative. Customers often already have an idea about what products and features they are looking to purchase. This means that sellers risk becoming irrelevant if they do not deliver an experience that exceeds products and winning a sale.
By disrupting the customers thinking and teaching them new ideas, sales organizations can increase business. In many sales organizations, a few sales representatives drive most of the sales. What is it that these sales reps are doing so well that other members of the sales team can adapt to their sales strategy?
There are five distinct profiles of sales representatives
The most common sales representative profile is the relationship builder. They want to satisfy the customers’ demands and have enjoyable conversations. But even if they are the most common, they have the fewest “star” sales representatives in this profile atonly 7%.
The average performer comprises similar amounts across all five types, but the challenger excels above all the others in achieving star sales performance. Nearly 40% of star sales reps were in the challenger category, and in complex sales situations, that number rose to 54%.
Source: Gartner (2019)
The challengers understand their customers’ business that they can use to deliver new insights and then change the way the customer is thinking. Contrary to the relationship builder, challengers are useful because they create constructive tension.
The challenger representative has three distinct skills:
Sales management needs to understand that not all sales representatives can adapt to the challenger’s ways by themselves. The entire organization needs to be behind the approach to provide the support the sales reps need to succeed.
The sensemaking approach is the sharing of information to guide customers toward a more transparent, more rationalized view of the purchase decision. Whether sales reps are Challengers or not, the approach they use to engage the customer with information is a critical determinant of sales success. Given the circulation of information in the marketplace, sales reps must help customers prioritize sources, combine contradictions, and qualify trade-off.
With sense making the customers are more comfortable and more likely to feel confident about the information they are receiving about the purchase they are about to undergo. This translates into high quality and low regret deals than other approaches.
Sales strategy is changing, and the challenger approach is increasing in popularity. That means that we are transitioning from pitching to commercial teaching.
A good challenger redefines the customers’ needs by providing insights, avoids pitfalls, and offers products or services that the customer does not even know exists. Applying the lessons of the challenger sale and commercial teaching to your presentation adds insight, persuasiveness, and a more memorable performance.
Customers often already know what they are looking to purchase before they even meet a sales representative. With facts and data, you can challenge the customers’ ideas of what they are looking for and aim them towards purchasing your solution.
By doing this, your sales organization can increase business and build more valuable relationships with your customers.
The challenger sales model is the most successful one in sales, but be careful about challenging your customers too hard, we do not want to lose them to the
We are a team of independent professionals from diverse backgrounds who want to make consulting simple. We have extensive experience from strategy- and technology consulting firms, start-ups, and corporations, where we have solved problems in 50+ countries – from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. We are the architects of your growth.