Relationship Selling vs. Challenger Selling



As most of you know from reading this blog, I’m a big proponent of challenger selling. I’ve written about the benefits of challenger selling and the downsides of relying on relationship-building to close sales. Today, I’d like to offer a scenario that highlights the differences between these two approaches.

Suppose a prospect says that they will approve an efficiency project only if it has a two-year payback or less. A salesperson that uses relationship-selling strategy would probably tell his or her prospect, “Okay. Well let’s try to find you something that has a two-year payback or less.” Assuming there is a solution that fits this restrictive condition, the salesperson will be able to make a sale. Unfortunately, this sale will probably be smaller than one without such strict payback constraints, and the salesperson will be throwing away the potential for a much larger one.  

In the same situation, a challenger seller would say something like, “Well we could probably find something with a two-year payback or less; however, if we did so you’d probably be harvesting only the very lowest-hanging fruit and leaving 90% of the energy savings potential in the tree. Do you know any farmer who only harvests the lowest-hanging fruit?” A sales professional would then zip it and give the prospect some time to ponder this question. Chances are the prospect will realize that they’re wasting potential savings by limiting themselves to a payback period of two years. 

So what’s the moral of the story? Being the agreeable, nice salesperson doesn’t work. If you’re afraid to give your prospects a gentle push, you’re leaving both energy savings and money on the table.

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Posted by Mark Jewell