Sales technique

Perhaps you have never heard about Challenger Sales and this is normal since of all Sales Techniques, this is the most recent. But don’t worry, once you’ve finished reading this article I’m sure you’ll know enough to be able to take your first steps to use it in your sales process.

If you want to know more about Sales Technique in general, I suggest our article Sales Techniques: the complete guide of what to learn.

Now, take a second and look at the chart below. I’m sure you feel a little old thinking that SPIN Selling is over 20 years old, am I right?

Always remembering that sales techniques are not exclusive. The more you master them, the greater your chances of becoming a top performer. Just as a midfielder does not only need to know how to play the ball, he also needs to know how to cross, hit fouls and even penalties. You also need to know the big picture if you want to evolve. Makes sense doesn’t it? So if you want to be really good, check out our article on SPIN Selling.

You know what SPIN represented (okay, it still does) in the sales techniques skillset for everyone who works with complex sales. When you align with your lead scenario using GPCT, you facilitate the entire sales process.

But now let’s talk now about what really matters: Challenger Sales.

Browse the content

  1. Sales Technique: Challenger Sales
  2. The 5 Profiles of Sales Professionals
  3. Challengers and their sales technique
  4. Relationship Builders vs The Challengers

Sales Technique: Challenger Sales

Cover of the book that came to challenge current sales techniques.

The book “The Challenger Sales: Take Control of the Customer Conversation (not translated into Portuguese)”, by authors Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson was released in late 2011. Both writers were already on the staff of the CEB Sales Executive Council, the board involving the best sales executives in the world.

The authors surveyed nearly 6000 sales professionals and came up with 2 key insights. The first insight comes from the following quote:

53 percent of B2B customer loyalty is a product of how you sell, not what you sell.

This means that the buying experience (the “how” you sell) is the biggest determinant for closing your sale. You need to generate value for your potential customer even before the sale takes place. You might be asking yourself: how is this possible?

Using an internal example, here at Outbound Marketing, already in the prospecting and qualification process, we seek to educate our leads on the latest in sales strategies and techniques, giving advice according to each case.

The second insight comes from the fact that there are 5 well-defined profiles of sales professionals and that one of them performs much better than the others (when you see the names you’ll know which one I’m talking about).

Curious to know what your profile will be as a sales professional?

The 5 Profiles of Sales Professionals

The 5 profiles are based on skills and behavior when dealing with customers. Although the 5 profiles are not exclusive, the author claims that we all have a predominant profile.

The 5 profiles of sales professionals are:

  • Relationship Builders: Focus on building solid customer relationship networks. They are very generous in their time, strive to meet every customer’s needs, and work hard to resolve any tensions in the business process.
  • Hard Workers: It is that worker who arrives early, leaves later and always gives a boost at the end. They will make more calls and visits than anyone else on the team.
  • Lone Wolves (Lone Wolves): They tend to have high self-confidence, they often just do things their way, not following the established process.
  • Problem Solvers (Reactive Problem Solvers): Super focused on details and can generate great customer confidence. They always seek to quickly resolve any obstacles in the implementation or execution of the project through post-sale follow-ups.
  • Challengers: They use all their understanding of the customer’s business to direct their speech and control the conversation. They speak fearlessly about views that are controversial to the customer’s view.

The 5 profiles and their sales techniques. Click to expand.

How to do real estate marketing: traditional and digital

Challengers and their sales technique

The study shows that 40% of top sellers use the Challenger approach. To better understand what this approach is and how it works, we’ll list 3 activities that help to characterize sellers who have this profile:

  • Challengers educate their customers: They focus the conversation to bring insights and new perspectives into the business and customer reality. It proposes approaches that the client does not know or has not considered.
  • Challengers target their sales messages according to the customer: He is able to recognize what goals and incentives the customer needs, in addition to positioning the speech according to the type of stakeholder within the organization.
  • Challengers have control of the sales process: Not aggressively, but assertively. They are comfortable with constructive tension (one that leads to challenging the status quo, even if it is different from what the customer believes) and are not able to fulfill all of the customer’s demands. When necessary, they are able to put pressure on the customer – both in terms of price and in terms of thought.

Imagine the following situation: The customer asks you for a 20% discount, and this percentage is beyond or at the limit of the “safety margin”. If you fit the Relationship Builder profile, it is very likely that to avoid any kind of tension, you, even reluctant, will end up giving the discount.

This situation is explained and deepened in the following article on how to deal with discounts. This text shows what a Challenger would do to handle this situation.

Relationship Builders vs The Challengers

Except for Challenger, the other 4 profiles have a performance very similar to each other. I decided to make a comparison with Relationship Builders precisely because the latter represents only 4% of high-performance sales professionals.

Furthermore, we have already talked here on the blog how it is common in the Brazilian market for sellers to try, through camaraderie, to close deals using the strategy of being accepted and adored by everyone within an organization.

But this strategy is very difficult to work in the long run when it comes to complex sales. It takes more than camaraderie to make a career working in complex sales.

Caption: When it comes to sales with low complexity, we can see that the performance in both profiles is almost the same. For complex sales we have a greater number of Challengers achieving better performance. Click to expand.

It is necessary to follow a well-structured process, have good sales techniques and even open the customer’s mind to solutions that differ from what he had initially thought. That’s what a Challenger does.

If you are not satisfied with the status quo of your marketing and sales area, I suggest you send an email to  to talk about how we at Outbound Marketing can help you change for the better (much better ) things out there.

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