5 Minute Summary: The Challenger Sale by Brent Adamson

the challenger sale summary

Although most sales practices would suggest that developing relationships with prospects is an important component of the selling process, Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson’s ‘The Challenger Sale‘ tells a different story.


In this summary, we’ve distilled the most important lessons from the book.

According to Gartner, there is a growing trend in the customer buying journey. When considering a purchase, B2B buyers spend just 17% of their time meeting with prospective suppliers, according to Gartner’s research. Instead, they’re devoting 27% of their time researching independently on the internet. This tells us that prospects enter a selling scenario with certain expectations about what qualities they want and how much they are prepared to pay for them. Thus, in this environment, the challenger sales model shines.


What is the challenger sales model?

The Challenger Sales approach is a sales technique that encourages reps to follow in the footsteps of high-performing salespeople, or “Challengers.” That means educating prospects about their problems and adapting their conversations to fit them. It also implies taking control of a transaction.

It implies approaching sales in a different way than you may have previously. Rather of apologizing for attempting to persuade the client, you’ll take control of the discussion. As a Challenger, you’ll have a thorough knowledge of your prospect’s company and will push back at the right time to propel the customer toward making a choice.

Four other types of sales reps are also mentioned. Together, these five types are:

  • The Challenger – You’re not afraid to talk about money as a Challenger, and you provide your prospect with a fresh perspective. You know what gives them value, and you use that knowledge to make an enthralling pitch — while also gently compelling them. Remember the three T’s: teach them something of value, tailor the sales pitch, and take command of the discussion.
  • The Lone Wolf – They follow their own leads, are self-assured and free.
  • The Problem Solver – The problem solver is good at coming up with answers for both team and prospect company problems.
  • The Hard Worker – The Hard Worker attempts to improve in their job, but they may or may not prioritize the client’s value drivers.
  • The Relationship Builder – Attempts to build a strong customer advocate through building strong relationships.

What were the key lessons from the book?

Lesson 1: Top performers in sales tended to adopt the ‘challenger style’ 

Adamson found that 40% of high performers primarily used the Challenger Style. The Challenger strategy only worked well with top performers, according to the study. Among average to poor performers, all profiles were equally as successful as one another, contrary to expectations. This is a groundbreaking discovery because most sales training and sales teams now concentrate on developing and encouraging the “Relationship Builder,” which is the least effective of the five types.

Lesson 2: Other profiles can learn to be a ‘challenger’

According to the book, even those who are not categorized as Challengers can take command of a customer discussion like a Challenger if they get the appropriate training, coaching, and sales tools. Creating a successful Challenger Sales team is possible, but it will take some work.

To implement it, it is important to note that it is  not only an individual rep’s skills, but rather the capability at an organisational level. The skills and training take time to effectively develop and implement.

Lesson 3: The challenger sales methodology can be synthesised into five steps 

Step 1: Warm up 

Credibility is built with prospects by employing correct communication techniques in the early phases of the Challenger sales process. It’s critical for your sales people to demonstrate to prospects that they comprehend their problems. To deliver this, your representatives must thoroughly study and analyze the prospect’s problem areas, challenges, and requirements. This way, you can prove your expertise and give proper indication as to why you are contacting them.

Step 2: Focus the conversation

The aim of the salesperson in this stage is to identify and reframe the prospect’s issues as growth opportunities. The sales person may begin to break down any preconceptions the prospect has about how they will address their difficulties once they dig a little deeper. The prospect should gradually begin to change their perspective away from what they believed was the solution to their problem due to the pressure put on them by forcing them to think differently.

Step 3: Leverage personal stories

Personal stories can help prospects recognize the importance of your product by demonstrating relevance to their lives. The prospect may begin to see themselves as the protagonist and feel more connected to your solution by telling tales about customers with similar issues. You’re also forcing them to imagine how they could benefit from a new solution by displaying other people’s success stories.

Step 4: Show how you can provide value

Reps should try to offer value. Painting a picture of a bright future is an excellent way to do this. Reps concluded their presentation by telling a tale with a negative conclusion. Now, they must reverse the narrative and show their prospect what the future will be like if they decide on action.

Step 5: Lead the conversation to your product/service

When all of the stages in the process are completed, the sales rep should be able to complete this last step painlessly and quickly. Introducing your product will depend on the nature of what you sell – you might want to use demos, walkthroughs or trials.


Should you use the challenger sales methodology?

Selling is becoming increasingly difficult as prospects do their research extensively. Under these situations, the challenger sales methodology thrives.  Ultimately, the Challenger Sales approach can assist you in refining certain phases of your sales process, resulting in greater deal closing and financial gain at your firm.

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