I recently read The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson.

In the book, the authors reveal the findings from their extensive studies regarding the sales process.

More importantly, they blow up several of the myths most people have come to believe regarding sales.  Summing it up, the authors don’t believe relationship selling is all it’s cracked up to be, and they have the data to back it up.

We’ve all been led to believe the way you develop sales is by developing strong relationships with your customers.  Yes, this may have worked 10 years ago, but in today’s economy it’s not good enough.

Their study breaks salespeople into 5 distinct categories and one of them is “the challenger.” They believe that the salesperson who challenges the customer is going to be the one who is most successful.

Is their argument compelling? Yes.

Is it cutting edge? No.

The points they make are very strong and intuitive to the salesperson who is adapting to their environment.  In fact, I would argue the best audience for this book is the sales manager, because the book explores how to hire and coach “challenger salespeople.”

Some of the best information in the book is on page 152, where they show a graph with the results a sales coach will receive from a typical sales team.  This graph and accompanying explanation is reason alone to buy this book if you’re a sales manager.

Even bigger than the coaching information is what is in Appendix C. Here they break down the hiring process a sales manager needs to go through when hiring challenger salespeople.  The suggested questions they list are excellent and the things to look for will aid any sales manager.

My recommendation is buy the book immediately if you’re a sales manager or believe you will one day be leading a sales team — start memorizing Appendix C.

For other people in sales, the book is good and will serve as an excellent resource tool to help reinforce in your mind what it takes to be a top performer.

Copyright 2012, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.

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