After reading The Challenger Sale some of my concepts about sales were … challenged.
But after reading, discussing, researching and trying, I am now a believer. In the process, we developed a template that we use to develop our own Challenger Sale presentations - you can download it using the link at the end of this article.
Many years before reading the book, we had developed The LUCK Principle(TM) based on what we had learned about business relationships (with customers, employees and leaders). In our view, building relationships always started with listening (the “L” in LUCK). But The Challenger Sale seemed to contradict this. The book suggested that, in many cases, the first interaction with a prospective buyer might be to take control of the conversation and train the prospect rather than listening to them.
So … being a social collaboration bunch … we asked LinkedIn!
I posed a question to a LinkedIn sales group – asking what they thought about the concept. Some were warmer to it, but many others rejected any notion that a rep should do more talking than listening in an initial conversation.
So … being an analytically minded bunch … we put it to the test.
We followed the directions in the book to develop an initial “Challenger Training Deck”. And we quickly realized that the approach didn’t conflict with listening to customers but, in fact, it reinforced it while re-framing pre-conceived notions of how listening works in the sales process.
In today's world, listening often begins long before a first interaction with a prospective customer – particularly when that prospect is a senior executive. These time constrained individuals don’t have time to talk to a rep about “what keeps them up at night.” And the internet has given them access to much of the information they used to depend on sales reps to provide. If they are going to take the time to meet with you, they expect you to show up with extensive knowledge about them already. And they value learning something new that challenges their view of how to get results in their business.
In other words, customers expect you to have listened to them before you’ve ever talked to them. At C5 Insight we call this "pre-listening." A bit more on how to do this is included in the downloadable template.
If you’ve done an exceptional job with pre-listening, then you will understand the prospect's situation (with the goal of understanding some parts of it even better than they understand it themselves), you’ll form a connection by teaching them something that they are not hearing from your competitors, and you will know you’ve been successful when they engage with you to provide more information (listen, understand, connect, know – that’s The LUCK Principle).
After developing a few of these new presentations, we found they were so effective that we developed our own internal eWorkbook template so we could develop Challenger presentations rapidly, and using a consistent process. The approach not only worked well for meetings with prospects, but also for the many webinars and live events we are asked to deliver presentations for.
And we started to share the Challenger eWorkbook Template with a few of our partners and clients. They, too, found it was a valuable tool for their own sales efforts.
So … being a content sharing minded bunch … we decided to share the Challenger Sale eWorkbook love with everyone.
To make it as easy to use as possible, we developed the Challenger Sale eWorkbook in OneNote format. This allows you to easily copy it each time you create a new presentation. The format also enables your team to capture brainstorming, and collaborate on feedback, in a simple way. When you download the Challenger Sale eWorkbook template (below) you will find it is in a zip file. If you have Microsoft OneNote, then the only item in the zip file that you will need is the OneNote package (just open it with OneNote). For those of you who don’t have OneNote, we have also included a PDF version as well as a copy of the Excel spreadsheet that is embedded in the OneNote.
Once you open the OneNote (or PDF), just go to the first page and start reading. It will walk you through the process.
The Challenger Sale eWorkbook Template assumes you have read The Challenger Sale. Without that background, the eWorkbook will be of limited value. If you have not yet read the book, then click here to download it from Amazon (we highly recommend it - particularly for anyone in B2B sales and marketing).
At the request of the law firm representing the Challenger Sale, we have removed this downloadable resource from our website. Reading the book, however, provides a fairly clear process for developing your own template.
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