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Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, the authors of the new book The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation (listen to the audio above). I believe that this is one of the most important books on sales in the last two decades. There is a general consensus that buying has changed. There is a consensus that selling has changed. But until now there hasn’t been a framework for thinking about and applying the implications of that change that is as cogent as The Challenger Sale.
The book provides a framework for a sales approach that is backed by a massive amount of research and study. It begins with the salesperson bringing a unique insight to the customer, rather than trying to elicit and solve an existing, known problem. This is an insight shared with Howard Stevens research in Achieve Sales Excellence, which suggests that our clients want us to bring them the ideas as to how they can improve their businesses. This stands on its head the conventional wisdom that diagnosis always precede prescribing.
The next attribute that Challenger salespeople possess is the ability to tailor their unique value proposition to the individual stakeholder. This is how they build consensus before selling to the C-suite. Selling below the C-suite is another heresy in sales, but the research proves that Executive Management wants–and needs–you to build consensus around your idea before they commit to it.
The final attribute it the ability to take control of the sale. We talked about this point towards the end of the interview, and we all agreed that sales has gotten soft, and that it is more likely that salespeople behave too passively than too aggressively. They studied high-perfomers, and I don’t believe high-performing salespeople become high-performers by behaving badly.
I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I enjoyed interviewing the authors. And, pick up the book. It’s a seriously worthwhile investment of your time.
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