Challenger Sales method : 5 mistakes to avoid.

Challenger Sales method : 5 mistakes to avoid. 1024 521 admin9696

Challenger Sales is the most innovative sales methodology since Solution Selling. It is sometimes criticized or mocked. On the one hand because it reformulates principles that are nothing new but are part of the ABC of sales. That is why we demystify the approach.

The main reason, however, is its implementation challenge. Starting with the beginning of the journey : the definition of what makes you unique and that will offer a different and irrefutable perspective to your customers. Piece of cake! But the main problem is not Challenger Sales, it is you! Here are the 5 reasons that we have identified with our customers and prospects why Challenger Sales fails.

Reason 1: The depth and breadth of the methodology does not fit your sales organization.

In a nutshell, some of our customers use a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Lured by the promises of outstanding performance and the advice from consulting firms know of Challenger what they found on the web, they ignore:

  • The extent of the initial thinking on differentiation inherent in the method
  • The ability of their sales force to absorb the approach

Then comes the temptation of the shortcut: pack your bag for two days of forced march training! Consequence ? Jaw dropping salespeople who give up after a few weeks of putting into practice poorly mastered concepts. Not all sales rep profiles are able to cope with the learning challenges posed by Challenger Sales.

Reason 2: the Challenger Sales method must be implemented in project mode.

And change management matters. The problem is not that Challenger is a better fit for selling solutions than for selling a product. It works for both. The point is that Challenger is a process that starts with defining what makes you unique. Ideally, the decision criteria undervalued by your customers and that you are the only ones to offer.

Before diving into the method, it is therefore necessary to conduct an in-depth reflection on your positioning, your market, your differentiators, and the decision criteria of your customers. Without this preliminary step, your sales reps will be equipped with innovative concepts such as Challenger’s sales choreography or the need to create the famous “Wow” moment. They may be better, but you will only reap small benefit from Challenger.

Reason 3: your content does not match your unique selling points.

Your commercial content first: sales presentations are redesigned to respect a specific pattern: establishing credibility first, confronting customers with a bigger challenge and presenting a new way of approaching the problem. Guess what? the best way to approach this problem should be you! So far so good. . The main problem lies in marketing content. What we see with our customers is at best a redesign of customer content highlighting the business impact of their solution. And far too much thought leadership.

And far too much thought leadership. No agnostic and disruptive content; no new perspective that makes them look unique, generates surprise, even fear, and forces customers to rethink the way they see the world and address a problem. Nothing that generates a change of mental model and that triggers action. And that is precisely the hallmark of a successful challenger sales approach.

Reason 4: the confusion between Tailoring et Mobilizer management.

Sales reps are lost between the principle of focusing on the “Mobilize” specific to Challenger and the personalization of the sales messaging for each of the stakeholders involved in the decision cycle. Challenger is supposed to solve the problem of multiple decision-makers specific to complex sales. How ? By detecting and adapting to different profiles of champions (go-getter, skeptic, teacher).

This is a limitation or even a contradiction of the model. Personalization is supposed to jeopardize the creation of the consensus necessary for collective decision-making. Hence the need to revamp the marketing approach. On the other hand, all sales methods, from Solution Selling to Target Account Selling, emphasize the need to address each stakeholder. The harsh reality of complex sales reminds us of this too. Our opinion ? You must do both.. The goal is to understand and find the balance between productivity and control.

Reason 5: the shift to Challenger Sales implies more assertiveness.

Problem: between passivity and aggressiveness, salespeople are lost. How can I position myself as a trusted partner of my client and at the same time create constructive tension? Without practice and coaching, there is a huge risk of seeing some salespeople fall on the wrong side.

Especially since sales managers are not equipped to change themselves. We have attended coaching and forecasting sessions where managers stick to their old habits: too much control to adhere to the sales process. Not enough coaching on the unique perspective, taking control techniques or related questions that make the power of the Challenger approach. Let alone innovation or creativity.


No, Challenger Sales implementation is neither a bed of roses, nor a guarantee of success. The approach is first for complex deals. Do you sell a product? It can work too if you focus on what is adaptable to your organization and manage the approach as a project. Not a theoretical training to an umpteenth sales method which content will be forgotten after two weeks or abandoned at the first customer objection.

Stuck in Challenger Sales and curious to know more? Discover how we debunk the Challenger Sales myth.

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