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Monday, 6 May 2013

Challenging - The Challenger Sale

 

The recent RAIN Group Report,
purports to ‘Challenge’ The Challenger Sale.

http://info.rainsalestraining.com/free-report-what-sales-winners-do-differently

It is based on a survey of “Buyers” talking about “Sellers”.

 

paradox.htm

Paradoxically they ignore their own advice:

“Sales research methods often focus on asking sellers, sales managers, and leaders what the top performers do versus average performers. Unfortunately, people’s perceptions of what they do and what they actually do tend to be quite different.

Our research looks at sales from the buyers’ perspective. Our objective was to find the answer to the following question: What are the winners of actual sales opportunities doing differently than the sellers who come in second place?

Their “research” ignores the very flaw which THEY highlight earlier!

Unfortunately, people’s perceptions of what they do
and what they actually do tend to be quite different.

This applies equally to both Sellers AND Buyers. The perceptions of what Buyers ‘believe’ Sellers DO will actually tend to be quite different from what Sellers actually ‘DO’! We are helped in this by having a body of research of 35,000 sales calls, carried out in 23 Countries, over a period of 12 years!

The second Paradox is using a Comparison of ‘winners’ to ‘losers’.  
N. Rackham and (Dick) Ruff published this flaw in their book ‘Managing Major Sales’ in 1991.
However, the ‘flaw’ of using this approach was widely known since the early 1980’s.

Learn from Neil Rackham:
And to not waste any time comparing Exemplar Performers (what I call Master Performers) to
Poor Performers. To Moderately Successful Performers, yes.
To see what truly ‘differentiates’ the true Masters.

Written by Guy W. Wallace, CPT, performance-based Instructional Analyst Architect - Since 1979 and Consultant - Since 1982 [from http://eppic.biz/2013/01/04/1st-friday-favorite-guru-neil-rackham/]

 

winners-and-losers_crop_340x234

 

RAIN Group highlight the Winner/Loser flaw by showing what they top rank in ‘winners’
Educate with new ideas and perspectives
compared with ‘losers’ who have this as their 42nd from the top, or bottom Rank!

With this combination of two fatal flaws in their basic research approach,

no credibility can be attached to their conclusions

which, paradoxically, they claim contradict The Challenger Sale Model.
This is a surprising claim as they state Salespeople
can’t inspire buyers unless they ‘educate them with new ideas and perspectives’”
which sounds like a rephrasing of “Teach with Insights” to me!

In other words, they appear to endorse The Challenger Sale approach.

6 comments:

  1. Brian,

    The Rain Group people can speak for themselves. I found their work a refreshing counterpoint to something that bothered me about the Challenger sale material.

    Much of the Challenger book is based on the group of "Challengers" performing way better than the group of "Relationship Builder." I have no quarrel with any of the statistical analyses, or even with the analysis of the groups. What I do have a problem with is the decision – completely ad hoc and subjective, as far as I can tell – to call the lowest performing group "Relationship Builders."

    Looking at the characteristics of that group, one could have called it, with equal justification, "conflict-avoiding butt-kissers." And yet the rest of the book rests on this linguistic sleight of hand – implicitly assuming that what the rest of the world means by "relationship builder" is identical with the lowest-performing group, with that label appended.

    It's the ultimate strawman argument. Set up a position nobody holds, and proceed to knock the stuffing out of it. Show me one sales approach that believes in non-confrontational butt-kissing, and they'd have a point. Instead, they choose to ride the false equivalency and start quoting from the book that everyone ELSE uses to describe relationship selling – and by implication claim that they intended also to mean their lowest-performing group.

    Don't believe me? Here's what the authors themselves had to say about it:

    "Some of our members have asked us why we wouldn’t instead call the Challenger the “New Relationship Builder” if, in fact, we are saying that the Challenger actually builds stronger relationships with customers. The reason is simple: Nobody cares about “New Relationship Builders.” In case you don’t believe us, ask yourself this: Would you have bought this book if it were about how to build “New Relationship Builders”? The answer is almost certainly no.

    Correct. Nobody would have bought the book if they called it "relationship selling" – so they changed the name, and put the "relationship" moniker on the lowest performing group.

    The RainGroup data, to my mind, refreshingly restores meaning to the idea of collaborative working relationships are critical to successful sales. The nature of human behavior is such that we are drawn to those who respect us, and shy away from those who we think are critical of us. The wisdom of the old line, "Nobody cares what you know until they know that you care" is relevant here. Challenging alone, without having earned the right to say challenging things, just comes off as rude. Relationships are critical.

    But, as the authors admit, that wouldn't have sold books.

    Kudos to RainGroup for reminding us of the truth about relationships.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for responding Charles. "Truth" is an elusive thing. I know, because I work in evidence based selling. Separating the truth, from error is not easy.

    Partly true, is often confused for the "truth", and the part which is untrue is ignored.
    I look at both. It is partly true that relationships are important, if you have a negative relationship with a Customer it is harder to sell but, NOT impossible.
    Buyers don't decide on that.

    The Challenger Sale, and earlier SPIN(r) Selling show what is important, not speculation.

    As for "Nobody cares what you know until they know that you care"
    Why, I wrote a whole blog on why that is wrong: http://brianmaciver.blogspot.com.es/2012/02/can-21st-century-sales-methodology-be.html

    AS for you ascribing motives to the TCS authors for their Book Title,
    that is pure speculation.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Pure speculation?
    Did you actually read the authors' own quote?
    Let me re-quote it for you again. This is the Challenger authors themselves talking:

    "Some of our members have asked us why we wouldn’t instead call the Challenger the “New Relationship Builder” if, in fact, we are saying that the Challenger actually builds stronger relationships with customers. The reason is simple: Nobody cares about “New Relationship Builders.” In case you don’t believe us, ask yourself this: Would you have bought this book if it were about how to build “New Relationship Builders”? The answer is almost certainly no."

    If quoting the authors themselves as to their own motivation is "speculation," then no wonder you find "truth" an elusive thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Charlie, a very late reply to your comment, but with all due respect, you've taken that quote out of the context for which it was intended.

      If you recall, that quote is in a section of the book labeled "Terminology Matters" in which we talk about whether the term "Challenger" is too confrontational and whether it should be softened before sharing with the sales force. We use that point--that the word "Challenger" gets people to pay attention in a way that "New Relationship Builder" would not--to illustrate the power of creating contrast when delivering a message, particularly a message intended to change behavior.

      As you know very well, in any change management effort, you're trying to get people (in this case, salespeople) to stop doing "A" and start doing "B." We've spent a lot of time talking about the importance of "breaking down the A before you build up the B"...but, if they perceive A and B as merely variants of the same thing, it's likely to be rejected out of hand.

      What anybody who has read The Challenger Sale or any of our subsequent work would attest to is that we are arguing that the currency of the customer relationship has changed dramatically. I think our work has helped force that conversation in a way that hasn't happened until now, despite very smart and cogent observations from some very credible experts in the field. Even our harshest critics would give us credit for forcing introspection where before there was very little. So, the question "Would you have read this book if it was titled 'The New Relationship Builder'" is a rhetorical device to illustrate the point--not a suggestion that this was an underhanded a trick on our part.

      As to whether all of our work rests on a linguistic sleight of hand, all I can say is that I am sorry you feel that way. Across the thousands of senior sales executives we've presented this work to since the book's release, we've never once been accused of making a strawman argument in the way you're describing. Rather, the reaction is typically that the way we describe the relationship builder--not as a "conflict-avoiding butt kisser" but more respectfully and empathetically as a salesperson whose posture is one of reactive service, order-taking and acquiescence--is, in fact, quite an apt description for the way the majority of their salespeople (especially their average performers) engage with the customer.

      As always, we appreciate your perspective and value your comments. There's an important discussion (or heated debate, depending on how you look at it) that's taking place about the changes taking place in the world of B2B selling and we're glad to play a part in helping to shape that.

      Best regards,

      Matt Dixon

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Matt. The horse's mouth beats speculation every time!

      Delete
  4. Charles, only picked this up, sorry.

    Their comment is a speculative post-event rationalisation.

    They plainly never set out to re-define Relationship Selling. How would they have answered the same question BEFORE they wrote the book.

    They were continuing their excellent Marketing of a really important piece of research into Selling. By a tongue in cheek response.

    Truth is indeed an elusive thing, why are you so critical of The Challenger Sale?
    So ready to put The Challenger Sale down?

    You claim:
    "the book rests on this linguistic sleight of hand"

    Could this criticism be levelled at your use of the word "Trust"?

    ReplyDelete