Challenger Sale: The next wave of sales techniques?

sales techniques

When you read a headline like the one above talking about Challenger Sale, it is very clear that you can think of the following about the author of this article. That I will try to predict, in a pretentious way, the rise and establishment of a new sales technique.
Even if I did, which is not my intention, it would be nothing less than a prediction. Maybe you don’t remember Mother Dináh, that seer who was very successful in the last century (ops, decade). Chances are, you’ve forgotten it, as well as your predictions.
That’s exactly why I don’t want to, and I won’t, in the course of this text, answer the question that makes up the title of the text. My real intention is to establish for the reader what was the evolution that happened in the way customers buy and how this changes (or can change, and this is where the Challenger Sale comes in) the way you should sell.
The truth is, you shouldn’t ignore a methodology that Neil Rackham, the father of Spin Selling, claims will create a major shift in the way we sell.
He wrote the foreword to the book on this sales methodology that is called Challenger Sale: Taking control of the Customer Conversation and is in the video by CEB Global (Institution responsible for the research that led to the methodology) talking a little about the topic.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find a direct link to embed the video on this page. But you can find the video of Neil Rackham talking about why it is important to challenge (challenge) customers here. The video is at the bottom of the page.
What Neil Rackham says about the topic is the following:

The sales story is based on a sequence of progress interrupted by a few but big changes that actually change the entire direction of the salesperson. These changes, characterized by radical changes in thinking and dramatic improvements, are rare in the sales area… This brings me to Challenger Sale and the work done by CEB… In this regard, the initial survey shows all the signs of a job that generates big changes. My advice is simple: read, reflect and implement. You and your organization will be grateful that you did.

During the school period, I always found it very easy to study history. It was a discipline outside the curve of what I thought I wanted for life: My skills in Mathematics and Physics, mainly, led me naturally to the path of engineering.
And if there is a precept that I think is valid for studying History, it is that:

We need to understand the past, to understand why the world is like this today. And also to not allow mistakes made previously to be made again.

map history

This is exactly the proposition I want to make in this text. Earlier, I talked about one of the changes that Challenger Sale has brought to the table. Now let’s do a previous process: what happened to change in business relationships to the point where this new approach was needed?

Browse the content

  1. The 3 disruptions that occurred in sales
  2. The First Disruption in Sales
  3. the second disruption
  4. The third disruption
  5. What is the fourth sales disruption?

The 3 disruptions that occurred in sales

The 3 sales disruptions occurred in a very short time span if you think about it in terms of history. Just imagine: while the Roman empire varies from birth to death by approximately 500 years, the 3 disruptions in sales have passed within a 100-year span.
Admittedly, the analogy is not the best but just think: if you come from a family of salespeople, the way you sell today is very different from the way your grandfather or great-grandfather would sell then.
Generally speaking, what was the norm in the previous generation is not anymore. What was a disruption at a given time will be “disrupted” at some future time?
Want to know how it all started?

The First Disruption in Sales

one way Here on the blog we talk a lot about the concept proposed by Aaron Ross, of segmenting the sales process in Hunters and Closers. What some do not know and maybe are confused about is that there is a model that has a similar name and was considered the first disruption in the sales area.
It is the model of Hunters and Farmers. In this model we have two clear “profiles”:

  • Hunter: is a person who focuses on looking for new opportunities and enjoys challenges. The activity of prospecting is what generates excitement and motivates this person on a daily basis at work.
  • Farmer: is the person who focuses on building relationships and, based on that, generating new opportunities. Salespeople are the ones who nurture the customer in order to generate new sales opportunities.

This sales model gained wide traction in insurance companies and quickly spread to other industries.
There is no clear moment when this division between hunters and farmers really emerged. But this is not true for the second disruption.

The second disruption

The second disruption has a date and a very clear responsibility for it: July 1925, with EK Strong being responsible through the book The Psychology of Selling.
It was the first time that there was a definition of what sales techniques are, the difference between features and benefits, how to handle objections, whether we should use open or closed questions, among other terms that still populate sales discussions.
The big change proposed at this time is due to the fact that it became possible to define which skills make a salesperson perform well, and, therefore, it became possible to teach these skills to new members.
After all, what was the major area that took advantage of this? If you answered the training industry, you are absolutely right. This disruption defined that selling is not an innate skill and allowed an unprecedented number of people to enter the sales market.

The third disruption

The third disruption challenged the status quo of EK Strong and of companies in general that said they believed that what worked for simple sales should also work for complex sales.
It took place in 1970 with the emergence of SPIN Selling. Much more than a book written in a year, SPIN Selling was the product of several years of research and study by Neil Rackham and his consulting team.
This meticulousness in conducting research is what makes the knowledge really interesting. The size of the project, measuring 10,000 sellers in 23 countries, made the book a bestseller.
The first result of this disruption was the emergence of what we call consultative selling. This is the disruption of the moment and we have a complete guide to theSPIN Selling.
In recent years, yes, we have seen many improvements in sales, such as the use of the automation process, the use of CRMs, among others. But none that could be considered a disruptive change.

What is the fourth sales disruption?

city ​​changing

Regardless of the answer to that question, it is very clear to everyone that there has been a shift in the way people and companies buy. And it is on this basis that the fourth disruption must take place.
You might even, reading the previous sentence, think that this is exactly the premise on which Inbound is based. And it’s true! The Inbound strategy is based exactly on this discourse of changing the buyer’s mindset.
But this change in mentality involves much deeper precepts, such as:

  • Decision-making based on consensus: Even in very complex sales, the top echelon of the company’s hierarchy tries to reach a consensus with the operational team. After all, what’s the point of a solution that your team doesn’t adhere to?
  • Increased risk aversion: The Age of Technology has made solutions evolve faster and faster. So the risk for you when buying a solution is great. It can become outdated quickly and can generate a lower return than the new solution.
  • Greater demand for customization: As complexity increases, more and more customers require customization so that very specific problem are solved.

It is little by little that the sales area has been adapting to this new reality. What Challenger Sale proposes as the first object of study is to understand why, even during the crisis, there are still some salespeople who manage to sell and still exceed the goal stipulated by management.
Of course, like everything new, there is some discomfort and opposition to this new movement. Challenger Sale is no different. It will take a while to be accepted or not.
And it is necessary, dear reader, to always have a critical view. Now if you want to enjoy your next 10 minutes in a useful way, I suggest a continuation to Challenger Sales.
Now, if you liked this article on the topic, I suggest sharing it with your team or social circle. So we heat up our discussion and spread even more knowledge.