Monday, October 17, 2011

Are You a Challenger?

I've been following with interest a series of blog posts by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, authors of the forthcoming book The Challenger Sale.

They make a compelling case in favor of a "type" of salesperson they call the "Challenger."

The Challenger is a "teacher," a naturally studious individual who likes to question the status quo.

"Challengers use their deep understanding of their customers' business to push their thinking and take control of the sales conversation," they write. "They're not afraid to share even potentially controversial views and are assertive—with both their customers and bosses."

Dixon and Adamson contrast the Challenger to the "Relationship Builder," who labors to create strong personal ties to customers and "resolve tensions in the commercial relationship."

Measured by results, Challengers are 13 times more effective than their relationship-loving counterparts.

The bottom line: Challengers, si; Relationship Builders, no.

"There's only one way to be a star," Dixon and Adamson write.  You gotta be a Challenger.

"Challengers win by pushing customers to think differently, using insight to create constructive tension in the sale. Relationship Builders, on the other hand, focus on relieving tension by giving in to the customer's every demand."

Their argument makes sense to me.

What doesn't is the shrillness of most readers' comments.

If the backlash Dixon and Adamson receive is representative, then, clearly, most salespeople like to please. They don't like to challenge.

How about you?
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