There are many sales philosophies that teach us that building relationships with prospects plays a major role in the success of the sales process. However that is not always the case. The authors of “The challenger sale model” – Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson explain this through their model.
According to the model, when it comes to top performing sales reps, building connections and establishing relationships is considered to be the least effective strategy in closing sales.
Challenger model argues that sales teams who manage and control their sales, teach their prospects about problem solving are considered to be way more successful than the ones who are spending a lot of time in building and nurturing the relationships with their leads.

What is a challenger sales model?

The challenger sales model presents the sales team with a different focus. The model states that a sales process has to be focused on teaching, tailoring and taking complete control of the entire sales experience. It is true that with the right amount of sales training and sales tools, the sales reps can manage any customer interaction in an outstanding way.

Before diving deeper into the model, let us first analyze how the authors researched and came up with the idea of challenger sales model. This model was initiated by researching the attitudes and behaviors of sales reps and they also categorize them into five distinct profiles.

1.Hard worker: The sales rep under this category is mostly self motivated, does not give up easily and strives for development.

2.The relationship Builder: The sales reps usually build strong customer relationships and generate loyalty among them. They sure spend a lot of time with the prospects and create trust.

3.The lone wolf: The sales reps are self assured, mostly independent and follow their own instincts.

4.The problem solver: Here the sales reps ensure that the problems are solved and believe in explaining things. They are very much detail oriented and are reliable.

5.The challenger: The reps under the challenger category understand the customers in a different way, they have a different view towards any problem, loves to explore and tackles with the customer in an unique manner.

The challenger profile provides a whole new perspective for the sales reps. The idea beneath the model relies on delivering an insight about a particular problem or opportunity. One can easily capture the leads’ assumptions or beliefs, flaws and truths which will help the sales rep to offer a better solution.

What are the pros and cons of challenger sales model?

There are many different ways to adopt the challenger sales model within the organization. Also it comes with some disadvantages. When the sales force chooses a challenger sales model, it helps to push the sales through constructive tension. This model is not suitable for average performing reps or for those industry types with a simple sales cycle.


1.With the use of this model, the sales rep can have a solid understanding of the customer’s value drivers.

2.The challenger sales model helps identify the economic drivers of a business.

3.The model presents the reps with a unique perspective on the sales methods which are rather easy to implement.


1.This model does not work well with the average performing sales reps.

2.The model is not applicable to simple sales cycles or stages.

3.It might be harder to implement if the reps are trained on some other model.

Steps to adopt the challenger sales model

The challenger sales model is all about teaching prospects rather than building a connection or relationship with them. This model equips the sales reps to take complete control of the sale and attract customers to make purchases. It is all about challenging the prospects that the product will work to solve their problems, and missing out the product will be a stupid thing to do. It is simply creating a positioning about the product in the minds of the customer. Finally, the lead jumps into purchasing your product. Listed below is the five step methodology in order to adopt the model in your sales force.

1.The warm-up

The first and foremost step of the challenger sales model is to build reliability with the prospects with the use of communication skills. The sales reps have to showcase the leads that they truly care about and understand about the challenges they’re facing. The reps need to carry out a complete research on the prospect’s pain points, the challenges and the needs.

Instead of reps talking about their offering, rather the challenger model lets the reps talk about their prospects’ needs. The product is secondary in this model, the lead’s need or problem is considered as the main focus.

A sales rep would approach any prospect with the reason for connecting with them, talk to them about the issue they are facing and give a feel to the prospects that the reps are way more understanding and empathetic. Also the reps have to find ways to introduce facts and research about the problems that might alleviate their interest. One can also use visuals and interactive content to get deeper into the conversation and to make them more involved. This will be a thought provoking conversation indeed. This sets a foundation for the sales rep to have the leads on track.

2.Reframe the discussion

The next step the business can focus is to analyze the roots of the prospect’s problems and pave the way for growing opportunities. The sales rep digs deeper into the conversation by injecting a new perspective which will shift the mindset of the prospect. In the end, the sales rep will challenge the prospects that the problem solving solution that they had in mind is not going to work. Instead they will start suggesting better solutions that will solve the problems.

3.Manipulate the emotions

Emotions play a major role in every sale. According to research, most of the decision making is subconscious and is driven by emotions. The businesses need to find ways to relate the prospect to a product , which will make them buy the brand’s offering. A good salesperson need to present relatable customer stories to the prospects to bring about personal value. This way, the prospect will feel more adhered to the brand/the product. Also, show them how other customers have solved their problem with this new solution, which will further make them purchase the product. Telling a story really works out, reps has to tell a story that showcases what will happen if the prospects continue the same path. The story need to inscribe the prospects’ pain points, their challenges and solutions.

4.The value proposition

The reps need not immediately talk about their product as a solution to the prospect’s problems. Instead they has to focus on the problem and make the prospects believe that the problem can be solved easily. The major goal is to make the prospect understand what value they are going to derive from the product and how it is going to benefit them. Ultimately it is educating them about the ideal solution to their problem.

5.The company’s offering

Most of the work is done. Reps have analyzed the prospect’s problem, built trust among them and have offered solutions for their problem. The final step is to showcase the solution – “The company’s offering.” All the steps has to be done in sequence and the sales rep has to follow each and every step promptly.

How to apply the challenger sales methodology into your business?

There are three steps that one has to probably follow to adopt the challenger sales methodology into your business.

1.Educate about your product’s value

Today challengers have to find a sure shot way to educate the customers about the product benefits. They need to have an understanding of the product. The customers need to consider your product over the rivals. The reps need to find out the problem X of the prospect. They need to explain how problem X can be solved with the product they offer. Reps have to use their knowledge to understand the prospect’s challenges and how their product will make a bigger difference to solve their problem.

2. Use Prompt Messaging

One need to find a way that provides prompt messaging that would increase the engagement rate. The messages that the sales rep uses often showcase the idea in the minds of the prospects of whether the product will tailor to their needs. Personalizing the messages will create an emotional touch among the customers. The reps need to analyze the challenges in order to challenge the prospect of various ways to solve their problem with the solution they suggest.

3. Take complete control of the sale

The sales people has to properly set goals and clear steps in order to take complete control over the sale. Make sales calls to give a real meaning to the value of your product and make them understand that value. Request a follow up call in order to influence the decisions. Try assertive questioning to know more about the circumstances of the client. With all the information in place, you can offer a personalized solution that would meet the customer’s requirements in a prompt manner.

Conclusive thoughts

Sales is one of the complex functions of an organization. Before the sales team approach the prospects, remember that the prospects are well equipped with the information they need. This is where one need to use the challenger sales model and adopt the methodology into your sales process. The Challenger sales model has definitely helped the sales team to close deals much faster and better. The sales reps need to take the prospect on a rollercoaster ride to teach them about the probable solution. If done right, your product will appear like the only feasible solution to solve their problem.

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