Why You Should Use The Challenger Sales Method

Why You Should Use The Challenger Sales Method

Korina Skhinas

Customers today have access to more information than ever before — and that means the role of the salesperson is evolving and changing. Traditional approaches to sales typically focus on building relationships with prospects, but newer research has shown that sales organizations can increase business by actually challenging their customers.This framework is called the Challenger Sales Method, and it’s used successfully by top performing sales reps in complex sales environments. Learn how the Challenger Sales Method works and how your sales team can implement this approach to close more deals.

What Is the Challenger Sales Method?

The “Challenger Sales” model was coined in 2011 by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson in their book “The Challenger Sale.” The methodology describes a sales process where sales reps teach a prospect about some aspect of their situation, tailor their communications to suit the prospect’s needs, and take control of the sales experience. This approach allows sales reps to challenge customer assumptions by helping them look at things from a new perspective.

In their research, Dixon and Adamson discovered that all sales reps fall into one of five distinct profiles:

  1. The hard worker – strives to get better in their role but doesn’t necessarily focus on the customer’s value drivers.
  2. The lone wolf – high performer but not necessarily a team player. Confident in their selling abilities but is difficult to deal with interpersonally.
  3. The problem solver – adept at finding solutions for issues in both the team and the prospect’s business.
  4. The relationship builder – gets in contact with a gatekeeper at their target company and slowly tries to create an internal advocate.
  5. The challenger – offers a new perspective and doesn’t shy from money conversations. Tailors the sales pitch to the prospect and teaches them something valuable.

The Challenger profile has been correlated with high close rates amongst top performers and is proven to help boost sales.

What Are the Benefits?

Research has proven that The Challenger profile is the most successful in complex B2B buying cycles. This is because in today’s oversaturated information environment, buyers are looking for someone they can trust and teach them something about the buyer’s journey. The Challenger approach works because it builds constructive tension with the prospect whereas the Relationship Builder never really pushes the client.

Studies have shown that the best-performing sales reps use the challenger approach to close more sales in complex sales cycles. One study that interviewed over 6,000 sales reps discovered that 40% of top sales performers primarily used a Challenger sales selling style. Top performers were more than two times more likely to use a Challenger approach than any other approach. And over 50% of all-star performers fit the Challenger profile in complex sales.

It’s important to note that this method is effective for top performers and complex sales cycles but not useful for average performing reps or simple sales cycles. This is because the Challenger method works best by creating constructive tension with a prospect which often requires reframing how sales teams typically approach selling.

How to Implement The Challenger Method

Pipedrive lists five simple steps a sales rep should take when engaging with a prospect using the Challenger method. Use this walkthrough to train your sales team:

  1. Warm-up — Empathize with your customer’s pain points.
  2. Reframe the conversation — Help the customer think about a more effective solution to solve their problems.
  3. Use of emotions — Show prospects what might happen if they don’t use that solution.
  4. Value proposition — Educate the customer about the ideal solution to their problem.
  5. The product — Finally, introduce your product.

Extu offers partners’ efficient tools to discover insights that support the Challenger Method. Partners can see who is engaging with their content, when they’re doing it, and how often, all through analytics and reporting found via the comprehensive Insights Hub. Sales reps can use this tool to arm themselves with the knowledge they need to discover problems and present solutions — an essential aspect of The Challenger Sales Method.

The Warm-Up

One of the most important aspects of the Challenger Sales Methodology is the “warm-up.” This helps you to establish a rapport with your prospect by gaining an understanding of their needs, wants and situations. You then use this information to create a buyer’s persona that you can utilize throughout your sales process. A successful warmer includes asking questions about their day-to-day life, family, children, hobbies, and other interests.


The idea is to identify and overcome the most common objections and challenges that people raise during any sale, which is something that a lot of us have had to do on our own.

Your goal should be to reframe the way prospects think about your products or services so that they become more favorable towards them. This process should also include identifying and overcoming the most common objections that come up during any sale.

The challenger sales methodology consists of three parts: listening for prospect objections, identifying what those objections are, and coming up with a solution for them (the “challenge”). For example, let’s say you’re selling treadmills and someone raises an objection about how expensive it is. You would respond by saying “If you’re looking for a treadmill that won’t break down after only a few months then our product is perfect for you.”

Emotional Impact

The beauty of this technique is that it focuses on what the customer needs and then offers them a solution for those needs. The more a consumer feels connected to a product or service, the more likely they are to use it.

Value proposition

What problem is your client facing that your product solves? This step is one to take time on. Dive into the value and goal of your product and answer any questions that might come up.

Benefits of Using the Challenger Sales Method

The Challenger Sales Methodology is a sales technique designed to overcome the most common objections and challenges that people raise during any sales process. By following this methodology, you can identify what motivates your target customer and create an experience that will move them towards the sale. It has been widely adopted by sales leaders due to its effectiveness in closing the deal.

Benefits of the Challenger Sale Methodology

1) Increases Product Knowledge

One of the benefits of using Challenger Sales is that it will increase customers’ knowledge about your product. As you are presenting your product to prospects, they may ask questions about specific details or features which will give you an opportunity to explain more about your product. When prospects come away from a meeting with increased knowledge about your products, they’re much more likely to become customers.

2) Identifies Highest Value Add

It allows you to find out which part of your product is most valuable for potential customers, so you can focus on those aspects during negotiations. For example, let’s say you have a car for sale and someone asks if it has leather seats when they really care about Bluetooth connectivity – with this technique, you would be able to find out this person’s highest value add and highlight those features while negotiating a price.

3) Demonstrates Value

It demonstrates value early on in the sales process.

Get Started with the Challenger Sales Method

The Challenger Sales Method is proven to work better than relationship building for top performing reps or complex sales cycles. Since this method educates your customers and provides a new point of view, it ties right in with the importance of content marketing. Combined with Extu’s top quality content and highly valuable data, sales reps have everything they need to execute even the most complex of deals.

Interested in sharing topical, relevant content with your audience wherever they are in the buying journey? Join the Extu Through Channel Marketing program for IT partners and brokers at no cost.