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The Vision
The Challenger Sale
by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson
Review by Peter Wietmarschen
As a coaching and consulting company, everyone at 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching, especially our coaches, stay updated on what the prevailing needs are in the industry. A few months ago, a few of our staff members were sharing what training techniques they have seen work well and what topical areas our coaching clients and students were finding helpful in the industry's current sales and marketing conditions.
For my latest book review I wanted to focus on an area of business most everyone would want to improve upon. It is no secret our industry has been going through a challenging time. The causes are varied depending on your specific market but one fact that holds true for all of us, is the need to stay current on our sales tactics. No matter if you have 1,000 prospects or one prospect, a deficiency in your sales tactics will mean you lose the potential for more sales.
One of our coaches mentioned he was looking at sales tactics and cited The Challenger Sale as a powerful book in his own learning. I immediately knew this book had to be added to my to-read list on Goodreads and this month I bring to you my review of The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson.
The Challenger Sale begins with a foreword by Professor Neil Rackham where he lays out the major breakthroughs in sales tactics and strategies over the years. He posits we are currently at an inflection point in the sales industry and The Challenger Sale stands to provide a blueprint for how the sales industry will evolve. So, what does the future of sales look like?
This book was originally started through research into the sales industry which happened to begin right around the time of the 2008 financial crisis. Obviously, this was intriguing due to the close ties this industry has to that time in history. While this research looked more into the business-to-business (B2B) sales which fell during this period, there are many crossovers we can all use in our sales with our customers.
As they began their research into sales, they noticed a rather unique set of data. While globally sales were falling, a small group of people were not only maintaining their sales, but many of them were actually increasing their sales. Remember, this was during the largest economic downturn in many of our lives. With this research, the authors went out to find out what made this set of salespeople so successful at their jobs.
At first they lay out their current understanding of the sales process. Many companies now use a sales solution to solve their customer’s needs. Not all sales packages work for all customers and sales staff must be knowledgeable enough about their products to offer the right solution package to their customer. In a more personal level, I think of this similar to the package offerings many of our telecom companies offer us such as bundling cell phone service with cable and internet packages. What made some people successful at this type of sale that others couldn't?
What they first discovered through their research was that all salespeople can be placed into five unique buckets:
  • The Hard Worker
  • The Challenger
  • The Relationship Builder
  • The Love Wolf
  • The Reactive Problem Solver
These five sales types are found in each and every person but certain attributes are more pronounced in some people than others.
The authors found the best performers by and far came from one group, The Challengers. Throughout the book they lay out why The Challengers outperform their peers. While I want you to go and read this book and learn for yourself what you can work on, I will share three traits Challengers are defined by: They teach because they have a unique perspective on their customer’s business and their own solutions.
  1. Because of this perspective, they can tailor their services to resonate with their customer.
  2. They can control the sale by not being scared to talk money and press their customer when appropriate.
While they initially went into this study to learn about sales during the 2008 recession, they learned a great deal about sales that can be applied to the overall solution selling.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking to improve their sales or better understand the sales people they are in charge of. Besides the content of the book, I would also point out the ease of reading. The authors clearly lay their book out in short but informative sections and also provide the right amount of figures and images to complement their information.
I would give this book a 4.25 out of 5 stars.
Written by Ray Befus
About the Author >>>
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