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The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation Hardcover By Dixon, Matthew; Adamson, Brent Unknown Binding – November 10, 2011

335 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover (November 10, 2011)
  • ASIN: B0082RXJV0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (335 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,901,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

111 of 115 people found the following review helpful By J. F. Malcolm on November 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book comes very highly touted, especially by Neil Rackham himself, who calls it "the most important advance in selling for many years."I personally don't think it reaches quite that level, but overall it is an excellent book, with provocative insights and useful information for salespeople looking for ways to break out of the pack.

The key to a really good book is that it makes you say, "I never thought of that before," and to use that insight to improve your life in some way. Interestingly, that's also the key to a really good salesperson, as well.

The book is based on extensive research by the Sales Executive Council into the attributes of successful sales professionals. They found that salespeople tend to cluster into five different types, based on their behaviors: Hard Workers, Challengers, Relationship Builders, Lone Wolves, and Reactive Problem Solvers. Research is great when it generates new and unexpected insights, and three are central to the book.

Key insight #1: Salespeople matter--a lot!

One of the surprising insights generated by their research was that the Sales Experience accounted for 53% of the contribution to customer loyalty, more than company and brand impact, product and service delivery, and value-to-price ratio combined! In other words, the latter three are just tickets to be able to play; how you sell is more important than what you sell. In complex solution sales, star performers outperform core performers by 200%, as opposed to 59% in transactional selling, so it's a critical insight.

If how you sell is so important, the next critical insight is about what the most effective reps out of the 6,000 that they surveyed do differently.
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56 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Dave Kinnear on December 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The good news about The Challenger Sale is that Dixon and Adamson further the concept of consultative selling. Even better, in my estimation, is that the authors seemed to use some solid data on which to base their theories. I like some of their approach such as, “Lead to your solution not with your solution,” and “Differentiate yourself by showing your customer something new about their industry that they didn't know or provide them with a different view.” I believe the authors also get it right when they state, “In this world of dramatically changing customer buying behavior and rapidly diverging sales talent, your sales approach must evolve or you will be left behind.”

However, they missed an opportunity to move complex sales to the next level. By complex sales, I mean to segregate commodity sales from the intangible products and services that require trust. And by the next level, I mean a salesperson who authentically has the customer’s best interest at heart and not just their own.

The subtitle of this book is “Taking control of the customer conversation.” As though to inoculate themselves from criticism, the authors state that they know some people will interpret this statement as being “arrogant” while stating that it isn't. They also speak about “educating the customer” and recognize that the same interpretation may be made about that point as well. Indeed, this reader believes that the mindset of a salesperson who takes it upon themselves to control the conversation and educate the customer/client is absolutely being arrogant. The authors seem to give short shrift to the human capacity to sense when they are being talked down to or manipulated.
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176 of 193 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'd say read it - and don't expect too much in the way of earth-shattering revelations or some actionable sales methodology. The authors spend a lot of time up front in the book validating the credibility of their research. Throughout the book, they refer to their case study clients as "members" - as if they are the Sam's Club of business insight. (The Corporate Executive Board is a "for-profit" BUSINESS TRAINING company, not a non-profit member association)

I always held the belief that relationship-only salespeople were creepy, unproductive and non-scalable generalists - and now, thanks to this book, I have the data to prove it. Their branded "Commercial Teaching" is when marketing is forced into actually helping salespeople create compelling and provocative messages vs. non-value added brochures and seminars. After reading the book, I was left wanting something that brought it all together as a repeatable sales methodology or process. Unfortunately, that wish was never satisfied.

The book was very good at debunking bad techniques like "answering a question with a question", asking rhetorical and irritating questions like "what keeps you up at night?" and does an all out assault on "inquiry only" sales calls & methodologies. The section on coaching was very good and applicable to most sales improvement programs - and didn't seem overly unique to coaching to whatever the "The Challenger Sale" actually is.

Here is the highlight reel: 1) Relationship-only reps are the typically worst performers 2) Have marketing & sales co-create a good, orchestrated script that anticipates customer problems, creates disruptive tension and ends with innovative ways of addressing client issues 3) Hand the script to a rep and tell them to learn it and tailor it 4) Provide coaching to make it stick 5) Rinse & repeat with every client interaction.
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