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The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation Hardcover – November 10, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover (November 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591844355
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591844358
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (221 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“The history of sales has been one of steady progress interrupted by a few real breakthroughs that have changed the whole direction of the pro­fession. These breakthroughs, marked by radical new thinking and dra­matic improvements in sales results, have been rare. . . . Which brings me to The Challenger Sale and the work of the Sales Executive Council. . . . On the face of it, their research has all the initial signs that it may be game-changing. . . . My advice is this: Read it, think about it, implement it. You, and your organization, will be glad you did.”
—Professor Neil Rackham, author of SPIN Selling, from the foreword
 
“The amazing thing is that the Challenger sales rep has been hiding in plain sight all these years. The Challenger Sale breaks the winning elements of this powerful approach into a set of teachable skills that can take even a top sales team to a new level of results delivery.”
—Dan James, former chief sales officer, DuPont
 
“This is a must-read book for every sales professional. The authors’ groundbreak­ing research explains how the rules for selling have changed—and what to do about it. If you don’t want to be left behind, don’t miss this innovative book that provides the new formula for selling success.”
—Ken Revenaugh, vice president, sales operations, Oakwood Temporary Housing
 
“Groundbreaking, timely, and disciplined research—presented in a way that is both intuitive and completely actionable—that has already had an impact on our organization by creating a customer lens that enhanced our sales recruiting, hiring, training, and deployment.”
—Jeff Connor, senior vice president and chief growth officer, ARAMARK Global Food, Hospitality and Facility Services
 
The Challenger Sale shows you how to maintain control of the complex sale. The output of this superbly researched body of work is that you will know how to better differentiate your organization, your offering, and yourself in the mind of the customer.”
—Adrian Norton, vice president, sales, Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals
 
“There is a healthy dose of constructive tension throughout this brilliant book. Tension that will bring insight and clarity into how customers buy today and how your sales team must sell. If you are seeking to raise the bar in your sales orga­nization, The Challenger Sale is a must-read.”
—Tom Meek, vice president, sales, Henkel Adhesives Technologies

About the Author

Matthew Dixon is a managing director and Brent Adamson is a senior director with Corporate Executive Board's Sales Executive Council in Washington, D.C.

About Corporate Executive Board
By identifying and building on the proven best practices of the world's best companies, Corporate Executive Board (CEB) helps senior executives and their teams drive corporate performance. CEB tools, insights, and analysis empower clients to focus efforts, move quickly, and address emerging and enduring business challenges with confidence.

For more information visit
www.executiveboard.com
www.thechallengersale.com


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Customer Reviews

The book is easy to read, well thought out and full of interesting & relevant information.
Bree Wise
The goal is providing an ongoing series of revenue generating sales that focus on how well the customer's business is performing instead of your product performance.
D. Cannon
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.
J. F. Malcolm

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 92 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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149 of 163 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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55 of 61 people found the following review helpful By John Gibbs TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 17, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Everyone knows that the most successful type of sales rep is a relationship builder who gets along with everyone and is generous in giving time to help others. Unfortunately, everyone is wrong, according to Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson in this book. When the Sales Executive Council conducted research to find the characteristics which distinguished the most successful sales people from the rest, the results were surprising.

When the research data was analysed, the researchers found that sales reps could be classified into five different types according to their dominant characteristics: the hard worker, the challenger, the relationship builder, the lone wolf and the reactive problem solver. When selling simple items or services, there were high performing sales reps in all five categories, but when selling complex solutions the highest-performing reps were challengers and the lowest-performing were relationship builders.

The book goes on to explain in depth the three key activities of a challenger - teaching, tailoring and taking control - and it explains that challengers are made, not born, so that any sales force can be trained according to the Challenger Selling Model. There are chapters on the three key activities, as well as a chapter on how a sales manager can coach for optimum success and another on building challenger organisations.

The hardest part of becoming a challenger seems to be coming up with an insight which is valuable to customers and differentiates your organisation from your competitors. Once you have such an insight, it seems logical that a potential customer's degree of enthusiasm will be proportional to the perceived value of the insight.
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