May 2015: The Challenger Sale

How do you get people to try new things?

In my previous blog I teed up the question “How do you get people to screw up their nerve to try something new, ever?”

A book called “The Challenger Sale” has some answers to this question. The book describes the results of a study which found a certain type of sales rep, with a certain style of sales pitch, tends to be most effective when selling a complex solution offering.

Of the six types identified (relationship rep, hard worker, lone wolf, etc. the challenger rep stood out as the most represented style amongst top performers. The challenger rep manages to capture the prospect's attention and respect by putting forward some sort of insight which is new and compelling to the prospect. It just so happens that this insight sheds light on some significant problem that the prospect will want to solve, and which the sales rep's offering can solve.

Understanding of the problem and tension are deliberately built-up within the prospect's mind before a solution is even discussed — building desire — and only after all of this is the solution presented. Having deftly lead to her solution as the perfect answer to the prospect's burning problem, the challenger rep then makes the sale (or at least, sets the hook).

The process starts with defining just the right unique insight. Research and intuitive leaps lead to concepts to be tried in the field. Experimentation on prospects is conducted to validate which concepts work best — in which circumstances. A validated and refined sales script can then be rolled-out across a broader base of sales reps.

The field experimentation fits in nicely with the Lean Start-up line of thought. The solution offering might even be tweaked to align better with the unique insight script that was found to work best.

The thought bubble: “Lead with the problem, not with the solution”.
Makes a lot of sense — status quo being as comfortable as it is, and inertia being as powerful as it is… takes a hot fire to make anything happen.