Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Challenger Sale: Taking Control Of The Customer Conversation By Matthew Dixon, Brent Adamson

The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation

The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation
By Matthew Dixon, Brent Adamson

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Product Description

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.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #2145 in Books
  • Published on: 2011-11-10
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: .90" h x 6.20" w x 9.00" l, 1.00 pounds
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 240 pages
Editorial Reviews

"The most important advance in selling for many years."
-Neil Rackham, author of SPIN Selling

"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

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.
For more information


Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful.
5The next important step
By Dean Heffta
If you are fed up with tricks, tactics and tall tales from sales gurus, then The Challenger Sale is what you need. For me, credibility was built by the connection to Neil Rackham. (any of Neil Rackham's work is a must read if you are looking to get away from the "hard sale.")

The Challenger Sale has something for everyone. The new seller, the old seller, the sales manager, the marketing director, the CEO.

This book has what I look for in significant books:
- No fluff
- Evidence based
- Improves how you think

Bottom Line: If you want tricks or silver bullets; you'll hate it. If you have enough commitment and respect for your customer and staff that you want to do things right; buy one for you and one for a friend.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful.
5Important insights for marketing
By John Gibbs
Everyone knows that the most successful type of sales rep is a relationship builder who gets along with everyone and is generous in giving time to help others. Unfortunately, everyone is wrong, according to Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson in this book. When the Sales Executive Council conducted research to find the characteristics which distinguished the most successful sales people from the rest, the results were surprising.

When the research data was analysed, the researchers found that sales reps could be classified into five different types according to their dominant characteristics: the hard worker, the challenger, the relationship builder, the lone wolf and the reactive problem solver. When selling simple items or services, there were high performing sales reps in all five categories, but when selling complex solutions the highest-performing reps were challengers and the lowest-performing were relationship builders.

The book goes on to explain in depth the three key activities of a challenger - teaching, tailoring and taking control - and it explains that challengers are made, not born, so that any sales force can be trained according to the Challenger Selling Model. There are chapters on the three key activities, as well as a chapter on how a sales manager can coach for optimum success and another on building challenger organisations.

The hardest part of becoming a challenger seems to be coming up with an insight which is valuable to customers and differentiates your organisation from your competitors. Once you have such an insight, it seems logical that a potential customer's degree of enthusiasm will be proportional to the perceived value of the insight.

I am not fully convinced that research results are strong enough to show that every organisation should adopt the Challenger Sales Model espoused by the authors. For low-complexity selling, hard workers did better than challengers, and even for high-complexity sales there were numerous star performers who were not challengers. Nevertheless, in my opinion this is an outstanding book containing important insights which are likely to make it an important text for anyone involved in marketing.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful.
5A breakthrough for complex sales
By Cindy Barnes
This is such a great book and the quality, quantity and overall rigour of the research is hugely impressive. I anticipate books based on extensive research to be a difficult read but, on the contrary, Matt and Brent give us a thoughtful, focused, concise and yet easy writing style making the book a joy to read. I have every confidence that this is destined to become a must-read business book.

The premise is that as sales become more complex, customers get `solutions fatigue' with more burden being put on them. The book offers an approach, with clear guidelines, on how to alleviate that burden. The research was based on 700 sales people, followed by a global analysis of 6,000 sales professionals involved in large-scale, complex, B2B sales. They defined those who were core performers and those who were high performers. They identified 5 profiles of sales person and the one that stood out way above all the others was The Challenger. A staggering 39% of the high performers were Challengers who:

* offer a unique perspective
* use two-way communication skills
* understand the customer value drivers and can identify economic drivers
* are comfortable discussing money
* can pressure the customer other words, they Teach, Tailor and Assert Control.

The book is packed with great case studies and it offers clear insights with immediate actions to be taken. There is a coaching guide, a hiring guide and whole chapter on extending the Challenger approach beyond the sales function.

From my perspective, once the value proposition has been created, this book shows that the best person to implement it in a high-pressure, complex sale is the Challenger.

Cindy Barnes
Co-author `Creating and Delivering Your Value Proposition: Managing Customer Experience for Profit'



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