5 Reasons to Build a Team of Challengers
Andre Riley
Jul 3, 2020
Group of Salespeople
In their landmark book , researchers Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson took a deep dive into the personality traits of salespeople in and found that they generally fell into five distinct categories. Yet when they studied the output of each type, they discovered that one stands out above the rest— and it wasn’t the type they’d expected.
Dixon and Adamson's five categories encompass most of the sales world.
  • The Hard Worker, who does whatever it takes to get the sale.
  • The Relationship Builder, who spends unlimited time with customers, building trust.
  • The Lone Wolf, who is willing to work independently and break all the rules.
  • The Problem Solver, who irons out every last detail.
  • The Challenger, who controls the sales conversation and doesn’t mind making customers uncomfortable.
The prevailing sales wisdom of the last several decades would recommend that all of your people be trained as Relationship Builders. But the deeper they dug into the data, Dixon and Adamson found instead that Challengers dominated the sales figures, accounting for nearly 40% of the top performers within the study.
Why are Challengers so successful? Why should you focus on this trait while building your own sales team? Let’s take a closer look at this growing force.
1. Challengers are good at selling complex solutions.
If your company sells a custom-tailored system of solutions such as a phone plans, vehicles and insurance, you’ll want Challengers. They’ve proven to be excellent
teachers
. Since Challengers take the lead of every sales conversation, they use the time to educate their customers on how your solution could work for them. Complexity is not a problem for a Challenger. She is assertive, but not a fast-talker. Her goal is to teach, and she devotes her attention to this, rather than emotional appeals.
2. Challengers are assertive.
Every conversation has a purpose. A challenger won’t focus as much on small talk. He’ll get right to brass tacks and find out what he needs to know about the client to determine how his product can help. This is an especially helpful trait in B2B sales. He's willing to push back, to challenge customers about the products they need. Customers might not be as comfortable with this direct and assertive approach, but they get the products they’re looking for.
3. Challengers bring customers back.
This drives customer loyalty like nothing else. The initial sale might seem abrasive, but when customers are thrilled with the results, a measure of trust is formed. Once customers realize they’ve been sold a product that meets their needs, they’ll keep coming back to the challenger salesperson when those needs change.
4. Challengers respond to today’s buying habits.
Why this sudden shift away from building relationships with clients? Why have Challengers taken the top spot? Because customers buy differently than they did 30 years ago. In the old world of sales, a rep would reach out to customers in an attempt to meet their needs. This would require a great deal of bonding, interpersonal communication and trust formation before the sale was made. Products were sold as much on the seller’s personality as much as on their own merit.
That trend is dissolving. According to Gartner, most customers are 57% complete with the buying process before they engage with the seller. Customers find most of the product information online. They open multiple tabs, comparing competing products. If you don’t have much information about your product online, they have less chance of considering it. Then, instead of the seller reaching out to them, they contact the seller.Having already put in the time and research, they’re not necessarily looking for a friend in the sales rep. They want answers. They want to know if the product will work for them. This is where the Challenger shines.
5. Challengers convert.
Especially if you sell solutions, Challengers will grow your business. Dixon and Adamson found that 54% of top-performing reps selling solutions were Challengers. They simply move product like no other type of salesperson can. The Hard Worker and the Problem Solver might spend countless late hours in the office making sure everything is perfect, but Challengers still sell more in less time.
When you’re building your dream sales team, you’ll want to fill it with Challengers, especially if you’re selling solutions. When you want to motivate, engage, and recognize your pro-sellers, check out Arcade, our custom-fit, comprehensive performance engagement platform, where your employees can earn virtual points to spend on real rewards as they follow the behaviors and actions that drive success for your business.
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Andre Riley
Andre is part of the Growth team at Arcade.