The Challenger Sale

AUTHORS: Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson


Challenger Sale:
“a sale in which the rep teaches the prospect something about their business, tailors their pitch to resonate with customer concerns and takes control of the sales process.”


Every sales rep falls into 5 different profiles that define the skills and behaviors they use when interacting with customers:


  1. The Hard Works – doesn’t give up easily. Interested in feedback and personal development
  2. The Lone Wolf – follows own instincts, delivers results but difficult to manager
  3. The Relationship Builder – classic consultative rep, builds advocacy internally
  4. The Problem Solver – detail oriented and ensures all problems are solved
  5. The Challenger – different view of the world, loves to debate/push customers, strong understanding of customer’s business


As sales complexity increases, so does the success rate of the challenger approach. The relationship builder is the least effective.


A Challenger Rep has 6 Significant Traits:


  1. Offers a unique perspective to the customer
  2. Has strong 2 way communication skills
  3. Knows the individual customer’s value drivers
  4. Can identify economic drivers of customer’s business
  5. Is comfortable discussing money
  6. Can pressure the customer


Defined by the ability to do 3 things:


  1. Teach – customers something new and valuable about how to compete in the market
  2. Tailor – their sales pitch to resonate with the decision maker’s hot button issues
  3. Take control – of the discussions around pricing and challenge the customer’s thinking around the problem


“Commercial Teaching” is where a rep teaches their prospect how to think about their needs.


  1. The Warmer – build credibility and show your prospect you understand their challenges
  2. The Reframe – connect those challenges to a bigger problem or opportunity they hadn’t previously considered
  3. Rational Drowning – show prospects the numbers behind why they should think differently
  4. Emotional Impact – create an emotional connection between the pain the story you’re telling and the pain they feel everyday in their organization
  5. A New Way – convince them of the solution
  6. Your Solution – Demonstrate how your solution is the best one out there and how it fits with the new way a prospect should be thinking about their business