Challenge the Way You Sell. Sales is turning a corner. Are you up to speed?

April 25, 2014 | Roger and Susie Engelau

When you or your sales person asks for the sale, does the prospect say, “No thanks, not interested”?

There’s some innovative and recent thinking on successful sales and its dethroning our traditional beliefs about what makes a good salesperson.

Traditional sales wisdom says that building great relationships with prospects leads the way to more sales and greater customer loyalty.  Good relationships are an important aspect of sales success and still are.

But recent thinking suggests that customers are looking to suppliers to challenge their thinking and bring new ideas to address their toughest problems in ways they wouldn’t have thought of on their own.

The landscape has shifted.  Your biggest threat has little to do with whether prospects like the features and benefits your product offers them.  Your biggest threat is the status quo.

Your prospects will keep on doing what they’ve been doing, to their eternal detriment, unless something or someone comes along and shakes them up by showing them what could be.

For the past 100 years, in sales the assumption’s been that you need to become friends with your prospects and customers.  You need to charm them, sweet-talk them, gain their trust s an ally through good listening and questioning tactics.

What does that get you?

In most cases, it gets you a lopsided relationship where you call and they don’t answer…you email and they don’t reply…you ask for the sale and they tell you “no thanks, not interested.”  You may have great relationships with a customer or prospect but they buy from someone else who delivers more efficiently (or at a better price or have a product that more closely matches the customer’s need).

It’s not because you didn’t present clearly and carefully everything your product or service can do for them.  And it’s not because you didn’t make your value proposition compelling enough.

No, 9 times out of 10, your customer doesn’t buy because buying means change, and as uncomfortable as your customer might be right now, that’s more comfortable than the cost of doing something different.

In other words: inertia is your enemy.

What’s the solution?  Challenge your customers. Challenge them to enter into a conversation with you—one that tests their paradigms and helps them see threats and opportunities they didn’t know existed.  This includes calling them out when they’re being blind and presenting to them a new vision of how things can be: one big enough, and plausible enough, to get them over the hump of the status quo, get them energized  and onto something truly revolutionary.

It’s called the Challenger Sale, based on a book by Matthew Dixon and Brett Adamson,who did exhaustive studies of the best sales people and in doing so, discovered some ground shifting truths… and it’s one of the most exciting developments in sales that we’ve seen in decades.

Over the next couple of posts, I’ll share strategies, tips, and tricks to help you get inside this revolutionary approach to sales—so that you can establish your organization and salesperson as thought-leader in your industry to  capture the imagination (and wallets) of your customers and prospects.  It’s an approach that might challenge some of your core assumptions, so I urge you to stick with me and seriously consider how this approach might change the way you do business.

Wouldn’t you love to know what the top salespeople are doing so you can replicate at your business?

In the meantime, sound off in the comments below: have you ever been truly challenged by a salesperson?  What was that like?