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The Challenger Customer: Selling to the Hidden Influencer Who Can Multiply Your Results Hardcover – September 8, 2015
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"I love it. This book will set the tone for years of work to come. The CEB team has just added the HOW to the WHAT that we have all been searching for since we launched into the Challenger journey. Helping your clients make buying decisions and then moving them to action, in your direction, is the HOW in this book that makes the biggest difference of all."
—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
BRENT ADAMSON, coauthor of The Challenger Sale, is a principal executive advisor in the sales and marketing practice at CEB.
MATTHEW DIXON, coauthor of The Challenger Sale and The Effortless Experience, is the group leader of the financial services and customer contact practices at CEB.
PAT SPENNER is the strategic initiatives leader in the sales and marketing practice at CEB.
NICK TOMAN, coauthor of The Effortless Experience, is the sales practice leader at CEB.
All four authors are frequent contributors to the Harvard Business Review and live in the Washington, D.C., metro area.
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.
Top customer reviews
OK, first off - if you’re familiar with the bestselling book “The Challenger Sale,” “The Challenger Customer” is from the same authors at CEB.
You may know CEB as the organization that determined in B2B sales, the customer is at least 57% through their buyer’s journey before they first reach out to the seller.
Like The Challenger Sale, The Challenger Customer takes on and refutes a lot of conventional wisdom about what works and what doesn’t work in modern B2B marketing and sales. But here’s the catch - it’s not just the author's’ opinions. They challenge the conventional wisdom with extensive research done over the last five years.
It turns out only a very specific type of customer stakeholder has the credibility, persuasive skill, and will to effectively challenge their colleagues to pursue anything more ambitious than the status quo. These Challenger customers get deals to the finish line far more often than friendlier stakeholders who seem so receptive at first. In other words, Challenger sellers do best when they target Challenger customers.
I work in the field of B2B marketing and sales, and the conclusions in this book had me thinking (and rethinking) all the best practices in that field.
In one sense, I wish I hadn’t read the book. But I’m glad I did.
And, to listen to an interview with Pat Spenner about “The Challenger Customer,” visit MarketingBookPodcast.com.
#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.
Getting a view from the customer side of a sales cycle and their "care abouts" was insightful.
Getting into the mind of the buyer is an invaluable tool to learn as a professional sales person.
A very deep dive read but worth the study.