Inbound Marketing + Sales Blog

February 28, 2019

The Challenger Sale and 4 Sales Methods To Consider

6 min read

Written by: Guido Bartolacci  |  Share:

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Every sales professional wants the secret to success. But the truth is: there is no secret.

Instead, there are a number of proven, strategic sales methods that salespeople can use to build better relationships with their prospects, spark more valuable conversations and improve their powers of persuasion to increase the likelihood of a successful sale.

One of the most notorious sales methods is known as the Challenger Sale.

The Challenger Sale Method: Become a Star Performer

What do more than 50 percent of top-performing sales professionals have in common? They all fit into the profile of a “challenger” salesperson.

The Challenger Sale is a sales method that groups salespeople into five different profiles:

  1. The Hard Worker

  2. The Relationship Builder

  3. The Problem Solver

  4. The Lone Wolf, and

  5. The Challenger.

Thorough research into the tactics and personalities of salespeople across a number of organizations found that sales reps who fit into the Challenger profile tended to outperform the other profiles by far — especially in complex sales, and even in times of economic downturn.

Although most sales teams train and encourage the relationship-building approach, the same study found that only 7 percent of top performing salespeople fit the Relationship Builder profile. Luckily, the Challenger Sales Model preaches that anyone can become a Challenger by building the right combination of skills.


So what are those skills required for a Challenger sale?

The Challenger Sales Model outlines three steps for an effective sale:

  1. Teach. In this step, the salesperson actively teaches the prospect more about their own challenges and the available solutions for those challenges. Because today’s buyers are better equipped to do research on their own before they talk to sales, you need to meet them where they are, work to understand their existing assumptions and educate them further by providing a new perspective on how to solve their problems.

  2. Tailor. Once you’ve challenged the prospects’ pre-existing assumptions and showed them new and better solutions for their challenges, tailor your company’s product or service to meet the needs of that prospect. For example, a CRM system could solve for a number of issues in a company, but if your prospect is looking to streamline marketing attribution reporting, focus the conversation on how your CRM can solve for that goal specifically.

  3. Take Control. Finally, a Challenger salesperson needs to know how to take control of the conversation and drive things forward in their own way. It’s all about owning the sales process and focusing the conversation more on the value of the solution than the price. By convincing your prospects that your solution is invaluable, you can almost take price out of the equation and reduce their reluctance to buy.

The Challenger Sale is a highly effective sales method, and it’s the one we use at New Breed — but it’s not the only way to sell. Depending on your product, business, prospects and goals, you may find that another sales method works much better for you.

Here is an overview of 4 other common sales methods. Play around with each until you figure out which one drives the most success for your business.

The Sandler Sales Method: Flip the Script

One of the oldest and most effective sales methods in existence, the Sandler Sales Method helps guide the prospect into closing the sale as opposed to pushing them toward the close. It may seem counter-intuitive, but by spending more time qualifying than closing, gaining the prospect’s trust and leaving it up to the prospect to close the deal, you can create an enjoyable sales process that progresses at the buyer’s comfort.

The Sandler salesperson focuses on three areas in the qualification process:

  1. Technical Needs: First, the seller asks questions to understand the details of the prospect’s technical issue. They do this by helping the buyer define their problem and its consequences in detail.

  2. Business/Financial Impact: Next, the seller asks the prospect to discuss how solving this issue would impact their business financially. By quantifying the value to be had by solving this issue before quoting a price, the seller convinces the prospect that solving the problem is a high priority for their business.

  3. Personal Interest: Finally, the seller asks the prospect to discuss the impact the solution would have on a personal level. Would it help them save time, get a promotion or increase their authority with the C-suite? This helps the buyer realize how much they want and need the solution themselves, so they can become a stronger champion within the rest of the organization.

SPIN Selling: Ask the Right Questions

SPIN stands for situation, problem, implications and need-payoff. In this sales method, the salesperson focuses on asking the right questions to help the prospect realize why they need to purchase.

Situation

First, the seller needs to gain a better understanding of the prospect’s situation at their company. Similar to the technical component of the Sandler Method, this piece of SPIN selling involves asking questions to help the prospect outline their current needs, challenges and experiences in detail.

This cycle of questions provides the context you wouldn’t be able to get through research — such as the decision-making process at their company — and helps you qualify the prospect as a good fit for your solution.

Problem

Next, the SPIN seller needs to ask questions to gain a deeper understanding of the prospect’s problem. In the situation the prospect just defined, what are their biggest needs, priorities and areas of friction?
This portion of the SPIN sale gives you a better understanding of what your prospect needs help with and how your product or service can help.

Implication

In this stage, the SPIN seller asks: What are the implications of continuing under the current circumstances? How urgent is the need for a solution?

For example, if the prospect’s problem is that they’re not generating enough leads with their current marketing strategy, the implications might include a lack of new and recurring revenue, a dissatisfied sales team and a damaged brand reputation.

Need-Payoff

Finally, the SPIN seller helps the prospect define the potential payoff they could get by addressing this need. In other words, if the prospect had a solution to their problem, how would that impact their business and themselves?

This set of questions helps the seller understand the prospect’s interest in a solution, agnostic of brand or pricing. Once you understand how badly the prospect needs a solution and how much they would benefit from that solution, then you can introduce the specifics of your product and discuss how it aligns with their needs.

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SNAP Selling: Respect the Buyer’s Time

The SNAP Selling Method was built with the modern buyer in mind. Today’s buyers, especially in the B2B industry, are incredibly busy, under immense pressure to add value to their businesses and constantly inundated with data and marketing information from various places.

The idea behind SNAP Selling, then, is to make the sales process as easy as possible for the prospect. In other words...

Keep It Simple

B2B buyers already have so much on their plate, so the worst thing you can do as a salesperson is introduce new layers of complexity into their lives. Keep all of your correspondence with prospects — whether through emails, phone calls or videos — short, concise and easily digestible.

Be Invaluable

Your prospects are likely frustrated and overwhelmed — that’s why they’re searching for a solution in the first place. Become a trusted expert by sending them helpful resources and educational materials that showcase the value of your solution and help you stand out from the information overload.

Always Align

Once you’ve shown the prospect that you understand their problem, align that understanding with the solution you have to offer. With every sale, the prospect will have a number of objections, goals and beliefs that you’ll need to address. Everything you say and do during the sales process should align with these objections, goals and beliefs so the prospect feels comfortable working with you.

Raise Priorities

Every buyer and their business will have a list of priorities that colors the entire sales process. You need to tap into these priorities and incorporate the most critical ones into your messaging. For example, if a prospect’s top priority is generating high-quality leads, the seller needs to talk about how their solution helps do that.

Solution Selling: Take a Consultative Approach

You may have noticed a common theme threaded throughout each of these sales methods: put the buyer first. By focusing on your prospects’ goals and challenges, rather than the specifics of your product or solution, you build better rapport and increase the likelihood of a sale.

That’s the basic idea behind the Solution Selling Model, also known as Consultative Selling. If you lead with the product, you’ll lose. Instead, focus on the prospect’s unique goals and challenges and reinforce the value that your solution can provide with respect to those unique goals and challenges.

Rather than pushing the prospect to close the sale, be methodical, take your time and hold their hand as you walk them through the sales process. As in the SNAP Selling Method, the Consultative Seller needs to become an invaluable resource for their prospects, form a long-term bond and provide customized solutions to help them solve their problems.

Close More Deals with the Sales Method that Works For You

As I mentioned earlier, none of these sales methods are one-size-fits-all. The method that works best for you will all depend on your industry, your products or services, your company culture and your ideal buyer profiles.

Regardless, it’s important that your sales process is intentional, standardized and measurable. Take a closer look at the way your sales team sells, the success of that team and the most common structure and cadence of those sales. Then adopt the sales method that aligns best with your organization. If you find you’re not getting the results you want, don’t be afraid to explore other methods.

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Topics: Inbound Sales

About The Author

Guido is a Demand Generation Marketer for New Breed. He specializes in running in-depth demand generation programs internally while assisting account managers in running them for our clients.

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