Top-Shelf Tip No. 154:

"Just as you can’t be an effective teacher if you’re not going to push your students, you can’t be an effective Challenger if you’re not going to push your customers."

Matthew Dixon

A Sales Pitch That Favors Value Over Price

If you are in sales, you may be familiar with the different kinds of sales methodologies flooding the market today--target account selling, SPIN selling, solution selling and value framework selling, for example. The latest trend in sales effectiveness is the Challenger Sale.

This sales approach is based on a key study finding that 53 percent of customer loyalty is driven by the sales experience—not brand, price, service or even the product. It categorizes sellers into five buckets: relationship builders, hard workers, lone wolves, reactive problem solvers and challengers.

Instead of unraveling the needs and demands of the customers, the Challenger Sale is used to build consensus in larger teams comprised of many levels of stakeholders. The Challenger Sale simply challenges the customers by making them aware of the pitfalls within their industry. Since its inception in 2011, the Challenger Sale has proven to be a quite successful strategy.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we'll take a closer look at how it compares with value selling with insights from Darrin Fleming, managing director at ROI Selling.

The Challenger Sale is a type of sale in which "the rep teaches the prospect something about their business, tailors their pitch to resonate with customer concerns and takes control of the sales process," write Brent Adamson and Matthew Dixon Adamson in their book The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation. This sales experience is largely influenced by a customer's interaction with the sales rep. The challenger rep has a strong understanding of the customer's business, a different view of the world, loves to debate and pushes the customer.

The Challenger methodology aligns with value selling in three significant ways:
1. They both know the customer's value drivers. Both challenger and value selling have a focus on value over price. While sales reps recognize that price is an essential part of the conversation—and they're not afraid to breach the subject—the impetus is always on the customer's value drivers and the value they will receive by solving their problem(s).

2. They both take control of the discussions around pricing and challenge the customer's thinking around the problem. This point follows the former. By centering the conversation around improving the customer's business by solving a real problem rather than price, sales reps can better control the pricing conversation. If reps have access to value selling tools, they'll be better able to articulate the value solving the problem will offer.

3. They both continuously create value throughout the sales cycle. Since both approaches prioritize improving the customer's business, it makes sense that creating value throughout the sales cycle is essential to each. This ensures that sales reps continue to be helpful and relevant no matter where the prospect is in the buying process. For example, they might provide market insights, technology updates and help the prospect navigate their own internal buying process.

Successful sales reps focus on solving real business problems that create value for their customers. The Challenger Sale process is a smart way to align with your customers' needs.

Source: Darrin Fleming is managing director at ROI Selling. Fleming has worked with a variety of companies in technology and complex solutions including Honeywell, Celanese, Merck, PPG, Battelle and Cooper Industries to quantify the value of their solutions and build compelling business cases. His years of starting and managing consulting and professional services businesses at companies like Rockwell Automation allow him to bring a wide range of experiences and insights to his clients.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

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