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Nicci’s Call: Are You Challenging Enough?

By Nicola Bonfanti – Talent Dynamics for Sales

Last week I attended the global online conference “The Sales Acceleration Summit”. The first  keynote speaker was Matt Dixon, co-author of “The Challenger Sale” and almost every talk I attended after that made reference to the most effective type of salesperson – the Challenger.

So what is the Challenger sales person, why is it important if you are involved in selling at all and how can knowing your Talent Dynamics profile help you become more challenging?

Why does it matter?

According to the CEB research*, and this is what has been sending shock waves through sales departments globally since its publication in 2012, the typical relationship builder salesperson, i.e. Making sure the customer is happy, being of service, keeping relations sweet, (what most of the sales training of the last 10-15 years has been based on) was the LEAST effective sales person type, particularly in an economic downturn, and not only with complex sales but in almost every sales situation.

Instead the MOST effective type of sales person in every situation proved to be the Challenger type who understood the customer’s business, pushes the customer to think outside the box, doesn’t ask them what keeps them up at night but teaches them what should be keeping them up at night and is not afraid to build constructive tension with the client, to make them think.

What is a Challenger sales person?

A Challenger salesperson excels and outperforms other sales types in 3 key areas:

  1. Teaches for differentiation – is an expert in their field and brings a new perspective to the client and educates them in other ways of doing business.
  2. Tailors for resonance – understands what drives value with different customers and adapts their message accordingly  (which your understanding of your client’s Talent Dynamics profiles will help you do).
  3. Takes control – not afraid to take control of the conversation or discuss pricing and cost concerns with the customers on their own terms.

How can you be more challenging?

Before you try and take on these 3 areas it’s important to remember what your strengths as a sales person already are and how you can build on that to become more challenging. Which is your strongest energy in your profile?

Dynamo profiles
(Creator, Mechanic, Star) – you will be naturally good at teaching for differentiation, will have great ideas for improvements and changes. Your challenge will be to listen more to the client and understand their specific values and to tailor your proposal to their needs rather than your ideas.

Utilising your knowledge of Talent Dynamics profiles and applying that to your clients will help with listening.

Blaze profiles
(Supporter, Star, Deal Maker) – you will naturally be good at tailoring for resonance, adapting your ideas to the client’s specific expectations.  You may be fearful of taking control of the conversation and discuss finances, not wanting to “spoil” the relationship.

Having courage to talk finances for the good of the client and your ongoing relationship will help you overcome this.

Tempo profiles
(Trader, Deal Maker, Accumulator) – you will naturally be inclined to make sure the customer is well served, is happy and there are no tensions there.

In order to win and keep the client you need to explore with them new ways that your products and services can resolve not only their current issues but issues in the future.

Steel profiles
(Lord, Accumulator, Mechanic) – you will be comfortable about taking control of the sales meeting but may not have enough knowledge or ask enough questions to tailor the proposal in an original and stimulating way.

Use the data and research you have to demonstrate to your client how they could be using your products and services in different ways.

More information about how you can become a more challenging salesperson at www.TrustedSalesDynamics.com

Nicci Bonfanti will be leading one of the Break- Out sessions at the Trust Conference on September 11th.

*CEB research in “The Challenger Sale “ (2012) by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson

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