Challenger Sales Methodology Summarized by A Sales Person

Sam By Sam - Updated: August 05th, 2018
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A quick summary of what the challenger sales model is and why it is effective for modern sales teams.

The Challenger sales methodology debuted in 2009 as the result of a study conducted during the recession in the united states post 2008. In this study Brent Adamson and Matthew Dixon take a scientific approach as to which types of sales professionals succeed agnostic to economic certainty.

The model scientifically scores the effectiveness of five selling profile types. The authors arrived at this cohort after interviewing and shadowing 7000 subjects. Clustered and associations of behaviors vs output were correlated and the yield was five distinct profile types. The five types of profiles are as such: The Lone Wolf, The Relationship Builder, The Hard Worker, The Challenger and The Problem Solver. It turns out that managers and members of leadership were consistently biased towards the relationship builder profile. Turns out that this is the lowest performing profile. This was the first shocking finding. The highest performing profile was that of the challenger, with a 200% swing vs the relationship builder.

What made the challenger truly special and a consistent performer regardless of the economic environment, was their ability to provide wisdom and value for prospects. They were able to be believed as subject matter experts and leveraged that stance to prescribe strategic maneuvers for their prospect/client. They did this by instituting what the authors call a “commercial teaching” approach. This is where the pitch, instead of leading with product value, leads to it. This flipped the thinking and the execution so that before anything is advised, the advisor has to be confirmed believable and trustworthy.

This isn't a solo gig. There are tons of stats, evidence, and anecdotal evidence a challenger rep needs to be armed with to truly execute the commercial teaching mechanics. Marketing, sales enablement, data science, and other internal organizational assets need to fuel this approach so that at every touch point there is ready value to be prescribed.

The commercial teaching approach is founded upon three major drivers, to teach, tailor and to take control. To do this, one must pitch in a specific manner. This approach follows this cadence: The Warmer, The Reframe, Rational Drowning, The Emotional Impact, A New Way and The Solution.

When reps drive with a major universal truth that cannot be reasonably denied, the empathetic warmer, there is little room to escape this logic. The prospect starts to buyin via universally agreeable truths. We nest the logic further by building a storyline that invariably leads to the product which the pitch has been designed to do. In short, you are selling yourself first, so that everything you say is received with greater belief.

The challenger sale provides a clarified framework to what humans do naturally but that sales people find reasons to negate. First you build a bridge that commonly traverses shared experiences, you immediate provide value by stating that you understand. You can say things like I’ve done what you are about to do, here’s what you you’re going to run into, here’s what to avoid and what to target to win. This is further reinforced by experience in the market.