Challenger Sales Model

5 Key Principles of the Challenger Sales Model You Need to Know

The first step of the Challenger sales model is revealing new insight into the lead. It doesn’t come from a stroke of genius but from well-prepared research on the customer.

After a prospect is surprised by this new insight, the Challenger rep teaches them how your solution can solve their problem. It is done without mentioning your product.

Focus on Insight

In a world where customers have easy access to all the information they need, it’s become increasingly more work for salespeople to find ways to help them. It has led many salespeople to shift their focus and devise a new sales strategy. One that focuses on educating and challenging their prospects to reconsider their current beliefs and ideas.

The Challenger sales model is a powerful way to do just that. Its key principles include teaching, tailoring, and taking control. The first step is identifying an insight that your prospect may have overlooked. This insight can be anything from a business process to a customer’s perception.

Once you’ve identified an insight, it’s time to introduce your solution. Your sales reps will use this opportunity to demonstrate how your product can solve the problem they’ve just taught the prospect about.

Only some salespeople fit the challenger sales model, but it’s important to understand how this type of selling can be used to your advantage. Studies show that challengers are the most effective in complex sales situations.

Challenge the Prospect’s Beliefs

When reps get a prospect’s attention, they need to challenge their existing beliefs. It is the phase where they reframe the discussion to showcase how their product fits into a customer’s bigger-picture goals. They also share data that shows how the client’s previous problem-solving solution failed. Using these facts, they create an emotional impact with the prospect that drives their decision to change.

Challenger reps use stories, hypothetical situations, metaphors, and genuine questions to stoke emotions further to build a powerful connection with prospects. They also use these tools to create a dialogue around pricing so prospects don’t feel like they’re being pressured.

Salespeople who follow the challenger sales model are highly effective and drive more sales opportunities than other reps. That’s why managers need to train their teams on the principles of the methodology. 

Take Control

The challenger sales model requires reps to take control of the conversation, reframe their prospects’ thinking, and introduce new solutions. It is a key step for overcoming the prospect’s resistance and can be difficult for some reps, especially those following a relationship-building approach. To successfully take control of the conversation, a rep must show they truly understand their prospect’s challenges and needs. To do this, they should thoroughly research their prospects for data on their pain points, challenges, and goals. Reps should avoid discussing their products at this stage and instead focus on introducing the prospect to new solutions.

At this point, the rep can identify how their product or service will meet a prospect’s value drivers and reframe their current situation. They should then share case studies or examples of how the solution has solved similar problems for other clients.

Unlike the classic relationship selling model, the challenger sales technique is only effective for some rep types. Some salespeople may find it uncomfortable or too aggressive, depending on their personality. As a leader, you need to know what types of salespeople your team is composed of and work with them to ensure they can transition smoothly to the challenger style.

Ask Questions

A salesperson’s ability to ask the right questions is critical to the success of the challenger model. Unlike relationship builders, who strive to become trusted advisers by offering prospects free information and insights, or problem solvers, who prioritize a product’s features over the customer’s pain points, Challengers can take control of the conversation and show their clients that they understand the issues that their clients are facing.

To do this, they must thoroughly research their leads’ challenges and needs and be ready to offer the best solution to those problems. To do this, salespeople should use tools such as conversation intelligence to gain a comprehensive overview of each call and meeting and provide valuable nudges when necessary.

It is important because, according to research by CEB, delivering new insights during the sales experience is the key to winning customer loyalty. Taking customers on a journey to strip back their existing thought processes and teach them that what they think they know about your product is wrong can change the whole picture.

Lead with Curiosity

Salespeople must know the value of focusing on their prospect’s needs and interests. The challenger sales method encourages reps to take the lead in conversations and show they are invested in solving the prospect’s problems.

It is crucial in complex sales cycles where prospects have conducted extensive research independently. When they reach your sales team, they often have a solid idea of what they need and can compare different options.

To overcome these challenges, salespeople must be able to take control of the conversation and lead prospects on a journey that teaches them something new. They must be willing to use strategic pressuring and have frank discussions about budgets and money. They also need to know how to tailor their approach based on the prospect’s business landscape and needs.

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