The Challenger Sale

19th Jun 2017

The Challenger Sale

You might have already heard of this classic and if you're in sales, that probability is much higher. I thought this was a great read, particularly for marketers. If you're looking to understand how sales personas compare to each other and the way marketing can influence the sales conversation, this book is definitely for you!

The credibility of this book is clear in its years of global research into sales approaches and their effectiveness. It became clear from this body of work that there were five main types of approach in which sales professionals were classified:



  1. The Lone Wolf - more of a maverick type of salesperson, running on their own, following up on their own initiatives and harder to manage
  2. Relationship Builder - mainly working on and selling through their strengths of their relationships
  3. The Hard Worker - a disciplined approach to target, deploy and follow up
  4. The Problem Solver - finding out what clients want and presenting the products or services in a solution-based manner
  5. The Challenger - to identify client's approaches and challenge their way of thinking through unique insights relating to their situation and proposing themselves as uniquely positioned to help


Of course, as sales professionals we have a bit of each style in us, but inevitably there is a more dominant persona which comes through.


From the extensive research it was found, and here is the jaw dropper, that the challenger was most successful and the relationship builder the least. It explains the challenger approach in more detail, which is useful from a sales side of things. What was particularly interesting was the need for good industry insights into the problems and the solution that change the game for the customer. Good collaboration with marketing is not just a nice to have but essential in getting this proposition right.


"Build a pitch that leads to your solution, not with it." - The Challenger Sale


How much of our time as marketers is spent finding these insights and marketing them or supporting sales teams in fueling their presentation and conversations? We all know customer behavioural research is important, but this takes it to a whole new level and how marketing can have a different level of influence on the sales conversation.


"What data, information, or insight can you put in front of your customer that reframes the way they think about their business—how they operate or even how they compete?" - The Challenger Sale


For me it puts marketing into more of an essential position for effective sales within the organisation. I think we have gone beyond the point of marketing providing branding, literature, ads and generating the odd lead, passing it on and leaving it there with sales - it's about more collaboration than ever before.



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