In the weeklong Efficiency Sales Professional Certificate™ Boot Camp, we talk a lot about “challenger selling.” If you’ve read The Challenger Sale, by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, you are familiar with this concept. (By the way, this is one of my favorite books and is on the “required readings” list for the ESP Boot Camp course.) For those of you who don’t know about challenger selling, a challenger is someone who listens to what the prospect says they think they want and then reframes the offering to allow them to see a path toward something that is actually in their better interest.
The Challenger Sale was the product of years of research where they studied several hundred organizations and identified more than 40 personality characteristics of their salespeople. They then clustered these characteristics into five archetypal profiles of salespeople: the relationship-builder, the hard-worker, the reactive problem-solver, the lone wolf, and the challenger.
Whenever I teach the topic of challenger selling, I always ask the audience, “Which one of those archetypal sales types would likely have the highest percentage of high-performing sales professionals?” In most cases, people vote for the relationship-builder. Why do so many people think relationship selling is most effective? Because it’s so ingrained in sales culture that sales are made based on relationships and they’re lost based on price. Frankly, neither of these is true.
I believe that successful relationships are the result of successful selling, not the other way around. I also believe that price should not be the arbiter, and if it is the arbiter, you're talking about the wrong things. Build good rapport with all of your prospects and customers, and use challenger selling to convey the true value of your product or service.
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