In 2011, the Challenger Sale burst onto the scene, telling sales organizations to completely rethink their approach to complex sales opportunities. Instead of providing solutions to buyers’ needs, the Challenger Sale model advises sales reps to aggressively take control of the conversation and embrace friction as a strategy to win sales.
But is the Challenger Sale model really the best way to convert buyers into valued, long-term customers? We don’t think so. In fact, at Miller Heiman Group, we believe the Challenger Sale model lacks the impact of a proven methodology and is a tactic that doesn’t meet the needs and expectations of today’s marketplace.
Buyers don’t want a pushy seller who talks about answers to problems they don’t have. They want informed, collaborative sellers who bring solid methodology and value-added insights to the buying cycle.
Solution selling isn’t dead – it’s evolving
The Challenger Sale model hinges on the claim that solution selling is dead. Solution selling used to work because buyers didn’t know how to solve their own business problems. But now, buyers are better informed and more capable of identifying solutions for themselves, making the traditional approach to solution selling obsolete.
The Challenger Sale got one thing right: Buyers are more informed than ever before. Supported by digital technology and vast amounts of data, most buyers have the ability to determine solutions without the assistance of a sales rep. In fact, recent research from CSO Insights shows that nearly half of buyers identify specific solutions before they even talk to a sales rep.
But sellers’ ability to define their needs and identify solutions doesn’t mean solution selling is dead. It’s just evolving to meet buyers’ needs and expectations in new ways. Two-thirds of buyers (65%) find value in discussing their needs with sellers, and almost all buyers (90%) are open to engaging sellers earlier in the sales process.
The catch is that in order to engage earlier in the process, buyers expect sellers to bring insights and expertise to the sales process. That can only happen when sellers are supported by robust methodology — not a tactic or sales gimmick.
Methodology helps sellers bring Perspective to the process
Methodology provides a framework for selling activities. It gives sellers a common touch point they can rely on to consistently close deals and navigate the dynamics of both sales relationships and the marketplace itself.
At Miller Heiman Group, we’ve updated our time-tested sales methodology to equip sellers with the ability to meet the actual needs of today’s buyers. Building on the proven foundation of our core methodology, Strategic Selling® with Perspective emphasizes the need to add value and insight early in the sales process. Using industry knowledge, customer business acumen and their own expertise, the addition of Perspective in our updated methodology enables sellers to partner with buyers to identify a solution that diagnoses and addresses the customer’s key business challenges.
Perspective establishes credibility by engaging buyers as partners in solving complex business problems. Through a combination of mindset, insight and experience, sellers can use Perspective to add value to the sales process, differentiating themselves from other sellers in the marketplace.
Frequently, Perspective takes the form of data or content that leads buyers to approach their problems and solutions in new ways. It can also take the form of an innovative idea or a piece of content that demonstrates how others have addressed similar obstacles. But while Perspective challenges customers’ assumptions (like the Challenger Sale model), it’s always presented in the context of the sales relationship. The goal is to partner with the customer to identify the best possible solution and mitigate additional concerns that may arise post-sale.
To further reinforce the use of Perspective in the sales process, the Strategic Selling® with Perspective methodology integrates with our innovative sales analytics platform, Scout by Miller Heiman Group. Scout uses predictive analytics to provide sellers with specific actions they can take to change deal outcomes in real time. As a cloud-based, mobile-first tool, Scout helps sellers become more effective partners to buyers, creating added value in the sales process.
At the end of the day, you need a proven sales methodology and sales technology that motivates sellers to use the methodology as a valued resource. The Challenger Sale model falls short because it doesn’t do any of that. It’s just a gimmicky sales tactic that is completely at odds with the expectations of today’s buyers and the needs of today’s sellers.