Safe Practicing Your Challenger Skills


As far as tips, one of the things we’re very careful not to give people the impression of is that a challenger is a book of tips and tricks, it’s a sort of silver bullet, or an easy fix that can be implemented. In fact, we know from companies who’ve gone down this journey that it takes a lot of work and that progress is not measured in days or weeks, it’s really measured in months and in some cases years before you really see the kind of challenger transformation that we’re talking about in the book.

Nevertheless, there are things that we can get started doing right away. One of the best things we can do is think about this notion of “safe practices” which we talk about in the book. People are often uncomfortable when they see the challenger concept and they think about teaching and tailoring, especially taking control with their customers. They ask themselves questions about “Do my customers really want to be taught? What is it going to feel like with this long-standing customer when I show up and try to create some tension in that relationship, when I try to take control when before I merely acquiesced to whatever the customer wants? It’s going to create a very different dynamic, maybe a disruptive dynamic.” and they’re very nervous about that.

It’s one of the things we tell salespeople all the time; to use some other opportunities for safe practice out there. What I mean is that every salesperson’s gotten stalled or nearly lost accounts in their territory. That’s a great opportunity to go out there and practise some of these challenger skills and competencies in a very safe setting to get comfortable with them before you bring them to bear on some of those big, healthy, long-term accounts that you have. So that’s a tip that we suggest right away that salespeople think about.

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