Fashion and perfume designer Jean Paul Gaultier famously said, “It’s always the badly dressed people who are the most interesting.” Similarly, in the world of sales and marketing, it can be said that the sales people who challenge conventional selling wisdom are most interesting to customers. They are not all neat and tidy like the others. At least that’s the point of view being advocated in a new book, “The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation,” by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson. The authors arrived at this conclusion after analyzing data from a study of 6,000 sales representatives in all industries, across the globe. It showed the “Challenger” rep outpacing all others in sales success. The Challenger type of sales rep is a confident, assertive person who isn’t afraid to confront the customer’s misperceptions.
Challengers are smart sellers who also build deep relationships with their customers. They understand the customer’s business and are better able to address customer needs. A Challenger brings new and useful information to the customer. This information is also tailored to individual businesses and individual people in each business. It requires a deep understanding of each customer’s priorities and needs. All of which means that an effective sales force can’t just be all about wining, dining and schmoozing at sports arenas. Still, schmoozing over wine and food won’t hurt.
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