- File Size: 14189 KB
- Print Length: 264 pages
- Publisher: Portfolio (September 8, 2015)
- Publication Date: September 8, 2015
- Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00SI02FLG
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,017 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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The Challenger Customer: Selling to the Hidden Influencer Who Can Multiply Your Results Kindle Edition
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—MITCH LITTLE, vice president, worldwide sales and applications, Microchip Technology Inc.
"There is no sale more misunderstood (and expensively misunderstood) than the B2B sale. Here, in black and white, is an essential new way to think about it."
—SETH GODIN, author, Linchpin
"The Challenger Customer lays out a blueprint for how sales and marketing departments must rethink their approach to winning more business. What worked in the past is clearly having diminishing returns today, and will likely lead to failure in the future."
—JOHN GRAFF, vice president, corporate marketing, National Instruments
"The authors of The Challenger Customer have done high-quality and in-depth research that maps out the road ahead for marketers. The result is a handbook of practices that will help you get into your customers’ heads, deliver good value, and win the sale."
—DANIEL H. PINK, author of To Sell is Human and Drive
"This book provides evidence-based insights and practical guidance for solving one of today’s most pressing commercial challenges: complex decision making within customer organizations. It clearly shows what distinguishes the best sellers and marketing organizations from the rest."
—PINDER SAHOTA, general manager, Smith & Nephew
About the Author
MATTHEW DIXON is executive director of the Financial Services and Customer Contact Practices of CEB. He is a coauthor of both The Challenger Sale and The Effortless Experience and is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review.
PAT SPENNER is a managing director in the Sales and Marketing Practice of CEB. He is a frequent contributor to Forbes and the Harvard Business Review.
NICK TOMAN is a managing director in the Sales and Marketing Practice of CEB. He is a coauthor of The Effortless Experience and is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review.
CEB is the leading member-based advisory company. By combining the best practices of thousands of member companies with its advanced research methodologies and human capital analytics, CEB equips senior leaders and their teams with insight and actionable solutions to transform operations. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
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I generally found some of the sales ideas helpful and insightful. Many of the marketing ideas, feel less well formed. The suggestion of fewer, more insightful content pieces, revolving around customer insights, does not feel groundbreaking.
#1 Challenge buyers by showing them their status quo is not good enough and is cutting into profit, wasting effort, and/or increasing risk.
#2 Partner with and enable "Mobilizers" inside the buying organization to drive consensus around the problem, the solution, and vendor selection.
Like The Challenger Seller, I gave this book 5 stars for the quality of the overall insights. Of the two books, this one is better (and is inclusive of the content in its predecessor). Also, like The Challenger Seller, this one suffers from a LOT of redundancy and out of order content - a natural consequence of having too many authors without painstakingly meticulous editing. Unlike The Challenger Seller, the Challenger Customer does a much better job of justifying conclusions & recommendations by providing references to studies with decent sample sizes.
Here is a more detailed summary:
Closing a complex deal requires collective consensus from, on average, 5.4 decision makers as they march through the three main stages of the buying cycle: (1) problem definition (2) supplier-independent solution identification (3) supplier selection.
“On average, customers are 57 percent of the way through a typical purchase process prior to proactively reaching out to a supplier’s sales rep for their direct input on whatever it is that they’re doing.”
a. Challenge customers’ beliefs with a new and compelling insight to make money, save time, or lower risk. This insight must provide a compelling reason to take action now by explicitly laying out why the customer’s current behavior is not “good enough” and is costing them time or money in ways they never realized.
b. Leverage (online) diagnostics and pain (not ROI) calculators
c. Partner with buyer stakeholders, called “Mobilizers,” who are able to (i) drive change and (ii) build consensus. Mobilizers can be identified because they do all of the following: (i) ask challenging, thought providing questions rather than just listening & agreeing, (ii) focus on the greater good of the organization rather than their personal goals, and (iii) agree to take on research or tasks
d. Enable Mobilizers by providing THEM with sales tools, workshops, proof points, stories, etc.
e. Find the strategic overlap between the each stakeholder’s goals and then facilitate/build convergence to get to a collective yes around a single, overarching business goal/vision.
f. Identify and convert Blockers, especially by leveraging supportive buyer stakeholders
g. Align the stages of the buying process with verifiers / buying signals. These are expected actions the customer must take. Examples include: commits to analysis, commits to seller demo, & states we are the preferred vendor.
Trying to briefly describe the ideas in The Challenger Customer reminds me of the guy who took a speed-reading course and then bragged that he had read War and Peace in an hour. When asked for a synopsis of the book, he said: “It’s about Russia.”
In that spirit, The Challenger Customer is about helping your customers buy. In sales, we lament how hard selling is nowadays; buyers have far more knowledge earlier in the sales cycle and use it to drive even complex solutions to commodity status. The problem with that is that often it’s not in the buyer’s own best interests to buy the lowest-cost solution, yet many buyers make the sub-optimal decision because they can’t help it: buying is harder than ever before.
Buying is harder because more stakeholders are involved: an average of 5.4 stakeholders in complex B2B deals, according to the book. That’s complicated by the fact that the most important attribute that senior decision makers consider when choosing a supplier is widespread support across the organization.
The traditional sales response to this challenge is to simply work harder. If you need to get more yesses to close the sale, you just have to call on more people and get their buy-in, right? The revelation—at least to me—is that, that strategy will actually make it less likely that you will get the sale. In other words, 1+1+1=0! That’s because each stakeholder will support the deal for their own reasons, and the overlap among interests becomes harder to achieve as the number of stakeholders rises. As a result, the decision gets driven down to the lowest common denominator: either status quo or the simplest, cheapest choice.
The challenge, then, is not to get a serial collection of yesses, but a collective yes, in which each stakeholder converges around a common vision. It’s like the parable of the six blind men and the elephant. Each one sees only a small part of the whole, so someone needs to make them see the entire elephant. That’s a daunting task for any salesperson, but fortunately there’s a solution: enter the Mobilizer.
The Mobilizer is the internal Challenger, the person who is willing to make waves to and drive the vision. They will only do it if they perceive that the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change. The book explains in great detail how to identify the three types of mobilizers, get them to agree on the need for change, and then coach and equip them to sell the need internally.
I give The Challenger Customer five stars for three reasons:
• It’s very much about what I call outside-in thinking: start from the customer’s perspective, understand their need to change, and don’t lead with your product.
• Just like their first book, The Challenger Sale, it’s backed up by tons of primary research, very credible examples, and detailed implementation suggestions.
• The third reason is why I didn’t like the book on first reading, and then I did: the approach and techniques are devilishly difficult. You have to learn how to identify mobilizers, tailor your approach to each of the three types, help them get the message across effectively to the other stakeholders, produce the right materials, and a host of other challenges. But by the second reading, I realized that the difficulty is actually the best reason for a company or even an individual sales rep to adopt the approach. If it were easy, anyone could do it, and then it would not be an advantage anymore.
That said, this is not really a book for salespeople. Only a select few would be able to master the techniques on their own. It takes a joint effort by sales and marketing to generate the insights and produce the materials to equip the Mobilizer to sell the insights internally, and it won’t happen overnight.
I suggest you read this book, study it, challenge it, and most importantly, use it to change the way you sell.
Top international reviews
If you haven't read The Challenger Sale but understand the idea of leading with insight to change the sales conversation, you could fast forward straight to The Challenger Customer - elements from the original book are covered again.
The two largest issues raised from companies implementing Challenger concepts are that a) creating highly differentiated insights is too hard and b) adoption efforts run out of steam. This has resulted in some organisations trying but then turning their back on this approach, or struggling along hoping they can still nail it. With that in mind, whilst The Challenger Customer appears to have more answers for success, some companies may question whether they can take on more change. However, those that have successfully embedded Challenger will use this book to consider what to add.
Well worth a read. Rated it as 4 stars - I liked it. Not as powerful as The Challenger Sale, but that's a tough ask.