What's the secret to sales success? If you're like most business leaders, you'd say it's fundamentally about relationships-and you'd be wrong. The best salespeople don't just build relationships with customers. They challenge them.
The need to understand what top-performing reps are doing that their average performing colleagues are not drove Matthew Dixon, Brent Adamson, and their colleagues at Corporate Executive Board to investigate the skills, behaviors, knowledge, and attitudes that matter most for high performance. And what they discovered may be the biggest shock to conventional sales wisdom in decades.
Based on an exhaustive study of thousands of sales reps across multiple industries and geographies, The Challenger Sale argues that classic relationship building is a losing approach, especially when it comes to selling complex, large-scale business-to-business solutions. The authors' study found that every sales rep in the world falls into one of five distinct profiles, and while all of these types of reps can deliver average sales performance, only one-the Challenger- delivers consistently high performance.
Instead of bludgeoning customers with endless facts and features about their company and products, Challengers approach customers with unique insights about how they can save or make money. They tailor their sales message to the customer's specific needs and objectives. Rather than acquiescing to the customer's every demand or objection, they are assertive, pushing back when necessary and taking control of the sale.
The things that make Challengers unique are replicable and teachable to the average sales rep. Once you understand how to identify the Challengers in your organization, you can model their approach and embed it throughout your sales force. The authors explain how almost any average-performing rep, once equipped with the right tools, can successfully reframe customers' expectations and deliver a distinctive purchase experience that drives higher levels of customer loyalty and, ultimately, greater growth.
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About the Authors
Matthew Dixon is an executive director at CEB, a leading member-based advisory company. He has presented to hundreds of senior executives and management teams around the world, including those of many Fortune 500 companies, on issues ranging from customer service strategy to sales productivity. In addition to The Challenger Sale, his work has been published in the Harvard Business Review. Dixon holds a PhD from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh and currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife and four children.
Brent Adamson is well known for his passion for “productive disruption.” Brent is a sought-after speaker and facilitator, with more than twenty years of experience as a professional researcher, teacher, and trainer. Brent is a frequent contributor on sales topics on Harvard Business Review’s blog and the CEB sales blog, as well as being published in Bloomberg, Businessweek, and Selling Power. A native of Omaha, Nebraska, Brent joined CEB from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business where he received his MBA with distinction. In addition to his MBA, Brent holds a BA with distinction in political science from the University of Michigan along with MAs in political science and German, and a PhD in applied linguistics from the University of Texas. Brent resides in Leesburg, Virginia, with his wife and two daughters.