Most modern sales methodologies focus on building rapport and trust with the prospect; challenging the prospect’s beliefs to make better deals is a hallmark of that perspective. In today’s episode of The Sales Evangelist, Donald is joined by the Chief Evangelist of Challenger, Jennifer Allen, to discuss her company’s methodology that drives relationships with their prospects and customers.
Jennifer started as an entry-level seller in account management:
- A relationship-builder through and through, she worked hard to gain client trust. (Which worked well for a long time.)
- During the 2008 recession, her peers and customers laid off teams and cut back budgets; that’s when her corporate exec board launched a report detailing what maintains relationships with customers.
- Jennifer was shocked to see none of her current sales components in that report. What worked once now no longer works.
Why focus on the relationship side?
- Jennifer never wanted to be one of those salespeople, but it was also how she was coached – she mirrored the behavior of her managers and peers.
- She was taught to ease tension with the buyer. However, constructive tension is crucial to teaching a prospect a risk (and why they need to act on that risk.)
- When you have a problem and go to the bar, the bartender makes you feel good in the moment, but then you wake up with a hangover and the same problem.
- Conversely, working towards a productive goal helps make strides toward solving the problem. It’s all about your relationships with the people around you.
Implementing the challenger sale for success:
- Jennifer transitioned from a relationship-building to a challenger by reading The Challenger Sale.
- Her first interpretation after reading the book? Tell prospects everything they were doing wrong. Unsurprisingly, that didn’t work that well.
- She failed to engage in a two-way dialogue and didn’t offer a space for the prospect to interact and engage.
- The takeaway? You have to earn the privilege to say they’re doing something wrong.
- Have an observation about the company, look for something the company is trying to achieve and determine the company’s end-state goal. If it’s a public company, see if they’re trying to acquire AI or how they’re trying to grow.
Express curiosity in the end goal.
- Have something of value to share, whether right or wrong. Either way, it’s something to think about.
- If it’s a private company, look to the CEO’s LinkedIn page or an exec’s podcast and see if they convey any information.
- Bringing something of value to the prospect throughout the sales experience is a compelling reason for the prospect to work with you.
- Stop using sales buzz words and figure out how you can bring something to the table.
Jennifer’s major takeaway? Keep a log of what each company is missing, and what happened to make you realize that particular thing was lacking. As you grow that log, you’ll have an easier time when identifying other companies. For more content from Jennifer, connect with her on LinkedIn and listen to her podcast, Winning the Challenger Sale, on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
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