Challengers Are Made (part 2)

In my prior article – Challengers Are Made Not Born” I  introduced the idea of the Challenger Sale. Since that time I have seen numerous articles on this concept.  Amanda Wilson has written a great article on rolling out this idea.


4 Tips on Rolling Out Challenger Selling to Your Sales Team

Posted By Amanda Wilson
Have you jumped on the Challenger® Sales Model bandwagon yet? We sure have. The principles behind it are so compelling – take control of the conversation, provide insight and teach them something new, and disrupt the buyer’s thinking – I personally want to be a Challenger in all of my interactions, and I’m not even in sales!

Challenger Selling Works

We rolled out Challenger Selling to our reps in January at our kick-off. And while It is still very early days, we have considered our rollout successful thus far. Our reps are loving it. They are engaged in learning, applying it in the field, and sharing stories with the rest of the team. And as a result, we are now starting to see more leads turning into opportunities, more momentum in the sales cycle, and less price sensitivity. While we are just at the beginning of our Challenger Journey, I thought I’d share some of my own “insights” on why we are having success.

They are Right About Roadblocks… Mostly

Reports call out three specific behaviors in current operating environments that are inhibiting Challenger Selling. This was fairly accurate for us, with a bit of tweaking:

  • Process Discipline: There is nothing wrong with an established sales playbook. In fact, having a foundation from which to work helped in our Challenger rollout. The problem lies in the static nature of traditional playbooks, and the inability of them adapt quickly. Don’t throw away the Playbook, adapt it.
  • Short-term Focus: I don’t know about you, but I need my sales team focused on short-term opportunities. My bonus is tied to making that number! We have found the challenge is being able to focus on the short-term, with the long term pursuit in mind. Adapt behavior without interrupting the business.
  • Competitive Approach: Maybe I’m old-school, but I even just asked for a sales bell to be installed here in the office (or at the least get the app)! I believe in what we are doing here, so when a rep closes a deal that’s going to change the way a customer does business, that’s something to get excited about! With each rep win, they provide a story about how Challenger helped (or sometimes didn’t) so the rest of the team can learn—and they are excited to share it.

I have seen our rollout not be as much about our culture as it is about our sales process and tools—and adaptability of both.

My Four Tips on Implementing the Challenger Sales Model

CEB is working on creating more tools and best practices through their surveys and resources to help companies successfully adopt Challenger Selling. In the meantime, here’s what I’ve learned from our rollout:

  • It’s About Change Management: You are transforming your sales organization (and to some extent marketing). It’s not just about what the existing behaviors are, its about the fact that you have to change them.
  • You Need Reinforcement: Like Pavlov’s dogs, we need to be conditioned. To change behavior, you need to reinforce and motivate. Presenting the Challenger Sales Model, then expecting reps to apply the principles in a sale without any reinforcement (ringing of the bell!), will not change the status quo.
  • Do NOT Interrupt Selling! In every company I’ve worked, if we tried to effect change that interrupted my reps doing business, it would ultimately fail. Every. Time. The trick is to seamlessly provide change elements in the context of doing business. It not only is less disruptive, but provides immediate results for the rep which in turn is positive reinforcement.
  • Communicate and Share: This might be a given, but cannot be overlooked. Getting reps to communicate and share when things are working (or not) in an efficient way easily to Challenger Selling; for example we matched the stages to those of Challenger’s.

About Jeffrey Berson

40 years in and around the industry has made Insurance a part of my DNA. I have had the pleasure of working with and for some of the greatest minds in our industry. My "Bersonal" View is an attempt to capture some of the best ideas, the best concepts and the best practices in a way that can lead to success for others. It will certainly be my point of view, so please...don't take it "Bersonal".
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