A new book, The Challenger Customer: Selling to the Hidden Influencer Who Can Multiply Your Results, provides a perspective on the current B2B selling environment that’s essential reading to anyone interested in sales force and customer engagement. We put this book in the “wow” category for fresh and useful insights that challenge the solutions-oriented approach so often advocated by experts.
The key message of this compelling book by Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon, Pat Spenner and Nick Toman (authors of The Challenger Sale) based on extensive research on business customer buying processes, boils down to several key lessons much easier to describe than to implement. Fortunately, the book provides detailed prescriptions:
- The average business customer has over five decision-makers or influencers involved with a major decision.
- By the time a supplier is contacted for an opportunity, over half of the buying process has already occurred.
- Most big decisions are driven by the “mobilizer” on the team, and the key is to reach that mobilizer where they learn with “frame-breaking” insights and provide them with the ammunition to mobilize the other decision-makers.
- Success goes beyond solution selling; it requires having the insight to help point the prospect toward the right strategy by informing them of problems or opportunities being overlooked.
“Customer engagement has been the heart and soul of sales success and always has been,” note the authors. What’s new is how to achieve it. Given that most companies probably don’t build challenging their customers into their marketing or sales training plans – or overlook the many ways they can build credibility with decision-makers during the “learning” phase – this book provides food for thought for any business executive, marketer, or sales manager.
Their prescription is to build relationships, not just by selling but by helping prospects improve their own businesses; not by just helping satisfy a need, but by actually identifying an opportunity before any thought is given to a solution provider. The authors share convincing results from their research and provide detailed case studies of how to enhance your business by “challenging” your customers.
For more information, go to thechallengercustomer.com