Insights / Sales / Article

Challenger Sales Reps Teach Buyers Action

July 25, 2018

Contributor: Jordan Bryan

The best sales reps are Challenger reps, those that teach customers to change the status quo, spurring their willingness to take action.

Marc, the head of human resources at a transportation company, is looking for a new employee benefits solution. His current product is expensive, especially given the lack of specific functionality. Marc has identified a possible alternative and engaged with a sales rep, who has provided plenty of information to supplement Marc’s own research. Still, Marc is hesitant to make the switch. Why? Because change is risky, challenging and disruptive. To overcome Marc’s concerns, the sales rep has to spur him into realizing why the status quo is no longer an option.

“ Teach customers something new and compelling, and provide reasons for them to act”

“Customers are most likely to rethink their current course or reset pre-established buying criteria only when given a reason,” says Brent Adamson, principal executive advisor at Gartner. “Sales reps who provide more than the benefits of taking action, but also the cost of inaction, are likely to drive a customer to make that kind of change.”

Today’s sales reps, whatever their field, are selling change. Their mandate is to teach customers something new and compelling, and provide reasons for them to act.

Lead buyers to unique differentiators

Sales reps often start sales calls with a company pitch to try and highlight the unique strengths of their product and company, but our research shows customers still find it hard to differentiate between suppliers.

Challenger sales reps teach for differentiation, using their knowledge of the customer’s business and their unique perspective to teach customers something new about their company, rather than the supplier’s company. They engage in robust two-way conversations through which customers can “unlearn” or change their decision-making process, helping them to rationalize disruption of the status quo.

Sales reps shouldn’t be identifying unique differentiators for themselves. This messaging should be developed at the organizational level, with sales leaders identifying commercial insights, or commercial teaching, to arm reps to drive change and steer the buyer to the supplier’s solution in the process.

Apply commercial teaching to a sales pitch

  1. Establish credibility with buyer.
  2. Reframe buyer’s understanding of their problem to capture their attention.
  3. Quantify the cost of inaction to build urgency and momentum for action.
  4. Make the sale personal by having the buyer emotionally feel the problem with the status quo.
  5. Propose a solution that addresses the underlying cause of the problem.
  6. Share your solution and unique capabilities after the buyer feels the problem and effectiveness of a solution.

A commercial teaching pitch works by first shocking the buyer with the unknown, breaking down the problem behind the unknown and finally building back the customer’s confidence via a new solution.

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