Sales

Challenger Selling: A New Approach to Closing Deals

Discover the Power of Challenger Selling: Revolutionize Your Deal-Closing Strategy with a Fresh Approach.

Rory Sadler
September 17, 2023
February 24, 2024
Discover the Power of Challenger Selling: Revolutionize Your Deal-Closing Strategy with a Fresh Approach.
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In the sales world, there's a new approach taking the stage: the Challenger Sales Model. This innovative method, developed by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, presents a fresh perspective on the sales process.

It veers away from the traditional method of relationship building and instead focuses on teaching and tailoring the sales experience, giving the control back to the sales rep.

The Challenger Sales Model is a groundbreaking methodology that has proven successful in many sales scenarios, particularly in complex sales cycles. In this article, we’ll delve into what the Challenger Sales Model is, how it works, and how you can leverage it to your advantage.

Rethinking Customer Conversations

Today’s customer landscape is evolving. According to Gartner's research, modern B2B buyers spend only 17% of their time meeting with potential suppliers. Instead, they're investing 27% of their time doing their own research online.

What does this mean for sales reps? Well, it means that prospects are stepping into the sales process with preconceived ideas about what they want and how much they're willing to pay.

In this scenario, the Challenger Sales Model shines. Instead of focusing on product features and benefits, the Challenger Sales Model encourages sales reps to teach their prospects how to solve their problems.

This approach resonates with prospects, who are often overwhelmed by the plethora of choices available to them and are seeking guidance on making a decision.

Deconstructing the Challenger Sales Model

The Challenger Sales Model is built around a sales process that focuses on teaching, tailoring, and taking control of a sales experience. According to Dixon and Adamson, with the right sales training and tools, sales reps can take control of any customer conversation.

An integral part of this model is understanding the different profiles of sales reps. Dixon, Adamson, and their colleagues identified five distinct profiles:

  • The Hard Worker: Always goes the extra mile, is self-motivated, and appreciates feedback.
  • The Relationship Builder: Excels at building strong customer relationships and fostering loyalty.
  • The Lone Wolf: Trusts their gut and operates independently.
  • The Problem Solver: Reliable, ensures customer problems are resolved, and is detail-oriented.
  • The Challenger: Offers a different perspective, understands the customer's business, and isn't afraid to push the customer out of their comfort zone.

The Challenger profile stands out because it allows reps to build up to a sale by creating constructive tension. Challengers intentionally dispute their customer's way of thinking, pushing them to consider a new perspective.

This method creates some slight tension in the form of a casual debate. By encouraging their customers to consider new opportunities, the Challenger sales rep can begin to offer an alternative way forward.

Harnessing the Power of Challenger Selling

As products and services become more complex, so do the sales processes behind them. In fact, 77% of B2B buyers note that their latest purchase was "very complex or difficult", according to Gartner.

Customers now have access to more information than ever before, which means that by the time they interact with a salesperson, they already have a pretty clear idea of what they want. This is where the Challenger Sales Model can prove beneficial.

The Challenger Sales Model is particularly effective in complex sales situations. Research has shown that the Challenger approach is a winning formula when it comes to complex selling.

Pros and Cons of the Challenger Sales Methodology

Like any sales methodology, the Challenger Sales Model has its strengths and weaknesses. While your top sellers may thrive using the Challenger approach, it might not be as effective for average performers or in simpler sales cycles.

Challenger Sales MethodologyProsConsProvides unique perspective on a product.Works best with top performers.Understands customer's value drivers.Best suited for complex sales approaches.Identifies economic drivers of customer's business.Challenging to implement if a rep is used to other methods.

It's essential for sales reps to evaluate their prospect's needs and decide if the Challenger Sales Methodology is the right fit.

Adopting the Challenger Sales Methodology

Implementing the Challenger Sales Methodology may require a significant shift in mindset for many sales teams. It involves breaking down traditional selling approaches and adopting a teaching role instead.

The crux of the Challenger Sales Methodology is teaching prospects, as opposed to building a relationship with them. Sales reps need to take control of the sale and guide customers towards making purchase decisions.

When done correctly, this methodology can be likened to a rollercoaster ride, tapping into a prospect's fears and raising their hopes, eventually leading them to eagerly purchase your product.

This methodology can be adopted using a five-step process:

Step 1: The Warm-Up

The first step in the Challenger Sales Process is to build credibility with prospects. It's crucial that your sales reps show their prospects that they understand the challenges they're facing.

To do this, your reps need to thoroughly research and investigate the prospect's pain points, challenges, and needs.

Step 2: Reframe the Conversation

This step focuses on finding the root cause of the prospect's problems and reframing them as growth opportunities. Once the sales rep digs a little deeper, they can begin to challenge any misconceptions the prospect has about how they will solve the prospect's problems.

Step 3: Use Emotions

Emotions play a key role in B2B sales. The more that a prospect can personally relate to a product, the more likely they are to buy it. A great way to get prospects to see personal value is by presenting them with relatable customer stories.

Step 4: The Value Proposition

The fourth step involves showing the prospect and any stakeholders the possibilities of a better future if they choose the new path laid out in front of them. The focus here should be on showcasing how the problem can be easily solved.

Step 5: The Product

The final step involves introducing your product. By this point, the prospect should have a clear understanding of their problem and how your product can serve as the solution.

Wrapping Up

Sales processes are becoming more complex, and prospects are conducting more research on their own before making contact with a sales rep. Sales leaders need to adapt to these changes to stay ahead of the curve.

The Challenger Sales Model offers a unique approach that helps sales teams navigate complex sales cycles and close deals more effectively. By teaching prospects and taking control of the sales conversation, sales reps can position your product as the only logical solution to the prospect's problem.