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Thursday, 24 November 2011

A Philosophical Criticism of The Challenger Sale

The Greek word “Mimesis”, from which the English word “Mimic” is derived,
literally it means “Representation” or Imitation.

The Challenger Sale describes five “imitations” of reality.

They are reflections of Salespeople, but in only a few dimensions and
not the full multi-dimensional Truth.

If the reader accepts the “Imitation” as a reality, then their minds are harmed, by confusing the “reflection” for the reality. Salespeople have to inoculate themselves by knowing the multi-dimensional true nature of Selling.
When a Writer depicts reality it is from their own perspective. If we view a bed from underneath it is still a bed, but its appearance is a distortion of the reality. Better to use a mirror if we want to examine or represent reality. But, it is still a reflection. If you had the only mirror then you would be a marvel who is able to “copy” everything!
clear-mirror-shaving-man[1]The writer, looking in the mirror makes a representation. The less the Reader knows of reality the more “REAL” the Writer’s imitation appears. And, that is the danger, that an imitation or “Representation” is mistaken and believed to be a Reality.

The art and the science of the writer in depiction is
a long way from reality.

When we mistake a representation for a reality it is because of our inability to distinguish knowledge, ignorance and representation. This is like the child who tries to eat wax fruit and is surprised at its character.

  Seller→ belief→ collection→ analysis→ view→ report

Writer→ Seller→ belief→ collection→ analysis→ view→ report

mirror cat and lionRepresentations (like Hunter/Farmer) are easy to reproduce without any knowledge of truth, because they are “appearances” not realities. Suppose that we could make either the reality or the refection, then would we devote the same energy to both or would we focus on reality?

If instead of Salespeople, the five descriptions applied to Doctors of Medicine which would we choose to heal us? Or, if we were Doctors which would we chose to imitate? This leaves us with the question: From reading about a “Representation” are we capable of judging the behaviours to imitate this representation?

The final Validation or the final Criticism of The Challenger Sale will be resolved in results.
When companies change or reform to “The Challenger Sale”, in part or in full will the Sales Community be better off?
Or, can any success be attributed to The Challenger Sale or to the advice given? 

Have the authors proven its effectiveness by Selling using their own methodologies?

The final thoughts we have to ponder is
has The Challenger Sale brought real insight or does it merely represent it? 
Are we persuaded by their admirers and ardent follower or by their insight to truth?
Which assumption should be made,
that it is again no grasp of truth but instead a mirrored reflection –
the clothing but not the substance or the truth.

When the Painter paints shoes can he do the Cobbler’s job?
Or, when the Writer writes a recipe can they replace the Chef?
The Writer is no less, they depict what is seen but they do not reproduce reality! 

Describing the steering wheel, brake and accelerator, however accurately, does not meet the skill of those who manufacture the real thing. Yet, even those who build them are only pleasing those who drive. The real purpose is neither in description, nor manufacture but in use!
The Car Driver will know of the defects or merits of both description and manufacture.

Only the Driver feels the steering or the forces of Acceleration and Braking.
The Builder will have a belief about the merits of his work,
but the reality can only come from The User.

However, the Writer on Selling Skills has neither knowledge nor correct view of the function or dysfunction of the things that they represent.  Nevertheless, they write, Readers read and Sellers adapt and fit.

The five Sales “types” are metaphors, not reality. 
Any “type” is a reflection of a stereotype, not a prototype.

We are all parts of all types, and the better for it!

In Sales we aspire only to do the right thing, in the right way,
at the right time in the hope of the right outcome.


  1. You might want to ask Alfred North Whitehead to write a guest blog. Just a suggestion...

  2. I am honoured to be invited to contribute to this debate through my views on Scientific Materialism, best quoted about my own treatise:
    “When scientists ridicule religious faith, it is worth observing that scientists also take faith with them into the research laboratory. As British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead has noted, modern science, as it developed in the West, was based on a faith in the existence of rational, discoverable laws” [Whitehead1967, pg. 17-19, 27]
    "Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead
    Still the young, modest and clearly talented author of the article is obviously a follower of
    Eliminative Materialism. Reduced to: Show me the Proof!
    And you can find out more on
    Posthumously A.N.W.

  3. Hey Brian,

    I have a pretty long 10 page or so article I am writing on this; I will quote your perspective; Overall I think there is a lot of face validity to it, but it is really nothing new and as I would mirror your reflection a bit differently, you only typically get answers to the questions you ask and as a market researcher I can get you support for anything, I am really pretty good at that. I doubt that was the case here, but what was not asked and to whom which is my big issue are important here. I really have a hard time coming to grips with the research as they treat it as a trade secret and don't provide much access, except maybe to Neil Rackham in the preface. I commented on Neil's research on a paper I did to test Spin Selling, it stunk, but I admitted that mine did also so we had two lousy poorly done studies that supported, at least in part the notion of spin selling. Such is research.


    Dick Plank USF now Tampa as of July 1, they killed Polytechnic here in Florida.

    1. Thanks, Dick. I have not had the time or energy to repeat all of Neil's research, but where I have, my results have coincided with his.....with one exception.

      Problem Questions. Where there is such an incredible Variation, that I spent several years trying to get to the bottom of it. I blog from time to time on:
      The "Problem with problem questions".

      In almost all of my encounters with trade secret "research", it has proven to be non-existent, annecdotes or really bad. In 20 years I can number the pieces of quality research (one was Buying Behaviour) on two hands and have several fingers left over.