A few pages into this book, I am already thrilled by its findings. The Corporate Executive Board’s (CEB) findings after few years of research on stellar sales performance is nothing but counter-intuitive. Its no surprise that recipe for success that works in down economy is the same that works in complex sales model. However, of the 5 buckets of sales people – the Hardworker, the Challenger, the Relationship Builder, the Lone Wolf, the Reactive Problem Solver, it seemed hard to believe that the Relationship Builder fares the worst. While this book will explore in detail about the ones that matter – the Challengers, it only highlights that Relationship Builders are focussed on the wrong game. (PS: I am also convinced on the factor analysis they used to bucket forty-four attributes into these 5 bucket types).
The key thing that remains with me after the first few chapters is the 3 attributes of the Challenger – they teach, they tailor and they take control. In my experience at salesforce.com, it suddenly comes as an forceful realisation that those deals where I demonstrated teaching, tailoring and taking control attributes, I (almost) never lost those deals. From the word go, I had a strong rapport with the coach / management in the discussion where I could ‘teach’ them how to be better in their own business (rather than providing a solution to their problem). Most deals covered multiple stake-holders and I presented key drivers and values corresponding to those stakeholders. (In one particular finance sector related deal, I created one-pager value proposition for the audience to my presentation. In that room, we had 3 different role-groups available and I remember that those Value Prop documents resonated with each of those groups based on differentiations that I had created).
Finally, as again the retrospective AAha pointed out by Challenger Sale, I managed to create a constructive tension by challenging the stake-holders to envision the new improved processes. I took control. And as soon as these three attributes skillfully, I knew I had locked those deals even a month in advance.
I am excited to delve deeper into this book. But I am sure that the learnings in first few pages is of tremendous use in any engagement when you want to be influential – teach, tailor and take control. When you invest, the customer invests doubly (in $$$) with a leap of faith.
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