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.
About the Author
Matthew Dixon is a managing director and Brent Adamson is a senior director with Corporate Executive Board's Sales Executive Council in Washington, D.C.
About Corporate Executive Board
By identifying and building on the proven best practices of the world's best companies, Corporate Executive Board (CEB) helps senior executives and their teams drive corporate performance. CEB tools, insights, and analysis empower clients to focus efforts, move quickly, and address emerging and enduring business challenges with confidence.
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“The history of sales has been one of steady progress interrupted by a few real breakthroughs that have changed the whole direction of the profession. These breakthroughs, marked by radical new thinking and dramatic improvements in sales results, have been rare. . . . Which brings me to The Challenger Sale and the work of the Sales Executive Council. . . . On the face of it, their research has all the initial signs that it may be game-changing. . . . My advice is this: Read it, think about it, implement it. You, and your organization, will be glad you did.”
—Professor Neil Rackham, author of SPIN Selling, from the foreword
“The amazing thing is that the Challenger sales rep has been hiding in plain sight all these years. The Challenger Sale breaks the winning elements of this powerful approach into a set of teachable skills that can take even a top sales team to a new level of results delivery.”
—Dan James, former chief sales officer, DuPont
“This is a must-read book for every sales professional. The authors’ groundbreaking research explains how the rules for selling have changed—and what to do about it. If you don’t want to be left behind, don’t miss this innovative book that provides the new formula for selling success.”
—Ken Revenaugh, vice president, sales operations, Oakwood Temporary Housing
“Groundbreaking, timely, and disciplined research—presented in a way that is both intuitive and completely actionable—that has already had an impact on our organization by creating a customer lens that enhanced our sales recruiting, hiring, training, and deployment.”
—Jeff Connor, senior vice president and chief growth officer, ARAMARK Global Food, Hospitality and Facility Services
“The Challenger Sale shows you how to maintain control of the complex sale. The output of this superbly researched body of work is that you will know how to better differentiate your organization, your offering, and yourself in the mind of the customer.”
—Adrian Norton, vice president, sales, Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals
“There is a healthy dose of constructive tension throughout this brilliant book. Tension that will bring insight and clarity into how customers buy today and how your sales team must sell. If you are seeking to raise the bar in your sales organization, The Challenger Sale is a must-read.”
—Tom Meek, vice president, sales, Henkel Adhesives Technologies