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Thursday, 26 April 2012

Putting Challenger Selling to Work–THREE


At A Glance - First Impressions

in Challenger Selling



The Sciences of Behavioural Economics have many lessons to offer Salespeople who are interested in Human Behaviour
and particularly in Decision Making.

I have never seen any science behind the many schools of “Body language”,
nor proof supporting their “Claims” of 90% of communication is visual (or 80% or 70%), based on Visual “Signals”.


There is, however, a piece of Scientific Research
which demonstrates First impressions – at a glance.




This study by Alex Todorov (Princeton)
which seeks to explain the human “ability” of
“Rapid Judgement”. The judgement is of the
“Safety or Danger of a Stranger”.

The accuracy of this ability is far from accurate.

Yet, it is an inherent “skill” from our long ago ancestors where this judgement was life or death. Todorov’s experiment proved “rapid judgement” to be universal, multi-national and multi-cultural.




What does this mean for Salespeople?

The “First Impression” is of particular importance for The Challenger Seller.

This is because early in the Seller Process (regardless of the Buyer Process)
the Challenger delivers an “insight of value” to the Buyer.

“How” the Buyer both receives and perceives this “insight of value” is greatly influenced by the First Impression given by the Seller.
In the study by Toderov “At a Glance” (Cognitive miser) the buyer will form a first impression composed of
“Dominance and Trustworthiness”.  These twin characteristics are based on face shape and smile.

Further influences MAY be Posture, Movement, Voice, Firmness of Handshake and their Deodorant or Cologne.

The Buyer will make an automatic “rapid judgement” at a fundamental level.

How do Salespeople cope with this?first impression wrong

In observations of successful Challenger Sellers their “insight of value”
is held back for between 10-15 minutes.

Challenger Sellers who deliver their “insight” earlier in the meeting,
particularly as their “Initial Statement”, have a much lower success rate
(measured by rejection of the insight).

Yet, if the same or similar insight offered later in the meeting
then it has a far greater degree of acceptance.


1. Recognise the importance of first impressions.
    You can influence this by dress, posture, smile, handshake, voice and deodorant/cologne.

2. DELAY, your “insight of value” for at least 10 to 15 Minutes, use this time to be Buyer Centric,
    express interest in them, their role and their company.

3. Offer your “insight of value” in an assertive way (review the challenger sale and other work to be clear about
   Aggressive and Meek behaviours, as both reduce your sales effectiveness

4. Use Evidence Based Selling Skills;
the TV program “Lie to Me” is entertainment, not a reality show.
The Lightman Institute is not real; it’s a speculative flight of fancy.
The “real” Dr. Lightman is Dr. Paul Ekman, who’s acclaimed work is presently under critical review,
but currently he refuses to allow peer review or publication (read criticisms)

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Putting Challenger Selling to Work–TWO


Value Creation is a False Premise.


Value “Creation” is a misnomer,
which places unnecessary stress on Salespeople
and disrupts the TRUE Value Generating Process.

Value “Creation” causes companies, Marketing and Sales,to look for “Value” inside their product

“What is our Value?”

This leads to dysfunctional Sales behaviour, TELLING Customers about their “created” Value.
This is no different than Feature/Function pitches, so held in contempt by the “Gurus” who promote Value Creation.

Before Columbus visited the Americas, they existed!
Columbus did not “create” the Americas;
he simply filled a void in his own Knowledge.

The fallacy of the “undiscovered” Country:

“Urtho and Aena looked on in bewilderment as the men in the Iron Shirts left their boats
and planted sticks with cloth attached on the beach.”

For Columbus it was a personal (not a Universal) discovery.
His on-going visits discovered and developed his knowledge,
while the void of his own ignorance shrank.

The Spanish had not found South America, they had arrived as uninvited guests, “gate-crashers”.  Today landing without Passport, Visa and travel documents in good shape, they would have been deported, as undesirable aliens, back to their country of origin.

Yet Popular Sales Myths persist: 

the “undiscovered” Problem,

the “created” Customer Need or Value “Creation”.

Seen from the Customer´s point of view,
these can appear as an arrogance bordering on stupidity.

None are probable, all are highly unlikely!




The role of the Challenger Salesperson is to perceive POTENTIAL Value first,
then to MANIFEST the Value WITH the Customer.
This is “Latent” Value, i.e. Value which is already PRESENT but NOT Perceived.


How can we Add-Value to the Customer´s Value Generation Process?


The “Catalyst”, which enables latent value to become known, is the Salesperson.
The Challenger Salesperson enables the LATENT VALUE to become apparent,
and clearly revealed in the MIND of the Customer.


Salespeople are the VITAL part of

The role of The Challenger Salesperson is
to perceive LATENT Value inside the Customer´s Value Generating Process,
then to make visible this value.

Together the Salesperson AND the Customer can discover
further Potential Value and DEVELOP this Value together.


The correct approach is VALUE CONSTRUCTION .


Discover – Develop – Deploy Change – Deliver Value.

CC map

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Putting Challenger Selling to Work–One


Top Performer Challenger Salespeople BEHAVE differently from Average (or Core) Challenger Salespeople. What is it that Challengers DO which either holds them back or makes them more successful?

One of the differences is in HOW they Challenge the Customer!


winner and second


I have just reviewed a quantity of recorded sales calls.
I was running Behavioural Analysis on BOTH the Customer and the Salesperson.
Running the recordings both Forwards and Backwards

i.e. WHAT did the Sales person say to CAUSE the Customers response and

HOW did the Customer Response ENABLE the Challenger Process.

Let me share with you an Insight gathered from the recordings.

Some of the BEST Customer responses, which enable a Challenger Process,

Teach, Tailor, and Take Control were questions 
prefixed by the Salesperson with the word “HOW” in their question.


How” is a very challenging question!

  • HOW do you do that currently...HOW would you like it to do it in the future?
  • HOW does that work...HOW should it work?
  • HOW could it add more value?

Some of the WORST Customer responses were to Sales Questions prefixed with WHY.

  • WHY do you do it that way?
  • WHY have you not considered making Changes?
  • And “any Customer Statement” then the Sales person responded WHY?

WHY, seems to put Customers into a defensiveJustification” mode,
explaining WHY they do things.

HOW, seems to put Customers into an openExplanation” mode,
HOW things are (or How things work)

The Power of “HOW” was published in 1987 by Miller & Heiman in:
“Conceptual Selling” (P. 119), in a slightly different context.


Sales Challengers should be aware of HOW

it can increase their effectiveness.

Fall at the hurdle

Sales Challengers should be aware of WHY

they might struggle!