Matt Dixon, author of The Challenger Sale, and Steve Richard, co-founder of Vorsight explain why insight selling is the name of the game in B2B sales, and provide tips for converting your salespeople into challengers.
Many B2B sales managers and executives assume that things like customer relationship building and a solution sales-based strategy are the key to B2B sales success. Unfortunately, those people are mostly wrong.
The reason? According to CEB executive director Matt Dixon, author of the The Challenger Sale, relationships and solution-based pitches are far less relevant in the information age. Today, rather than relying on B2B sellers to perform a needs diagnosis and problem assessment for them, B2B buyers are doing much of that research themselves. And while relationships still matter, the currency of what constitutes a valued relationship has changed dramatically.
As a result, Dixon explains, B2B sales has devolved into little more than a price war. And if your sales team isn’t comprised of salespeople who are willing to challenge buyers’ perceptions and deliver fresh insight that they haven’t yet considered, it’s a war that your company may very well lose.
In this roundtable interview, Dixon joins fellow B2B sales expert Steve Richard, co-founder of sales consultancy Vorsight, to define “challenger sales,” talk about why insight selling – not solution selling – reigns supreme in B2B sales, and share tips for converting customer-centric salespeople into thought-provoking challengers.
OpenView: Can you give us a quick overview of what “challenger sales” is all about?
Matt Dixon: I think it’s important to start with what prompted the transition from solution selling to insight selling in the first place. There are a lot of ancillary causes, but the obvious culprit is the sheer volume of information that buyers have access to today.
By the time the average B2B customer reaches out to a company or is contacted by a sales rep, that customer’s purchase decision is almost over. They’ve started to benchmark price and develop a list of detailed capabilities. Essentially, those customers have done the work that salespeople have long been trained to do for them.
Ultimately, that’s made B2B selling more of a fulfillment process than anything else.
Steve Richard: Unless, of course, those salespeople fit the challenger sales persona. Those types of salespeople have figured out that B2B sales is now all about not just engaging customers where they’re buying, but where they’re learning, as well.
MD: That’s exactly right. One thing that we found in the challenger research for CEB’s membership is that the best salespeople are engaging customers where and how they learn – social media, social groups, web forums, online communities, blogs, etc. Doing that allows salespeople to position themselves as sources of unique insight, and gives them the opportunity to assertively challenge what customers think they know.
Article continues on the next page: Core Characteristics of Challenger Salespeople