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Publisher's Summary

What's the secret to sales success? If you're like most business leaders, you'd say it's fundamentally about relationships - and you'd be wrong. The best salespeople don't just build relationships with customers. They challenge them.

The need to understand what top-performing reps are doing that their average performing colleagues are not drove Matthew Dixon, Brent Adamson, and their colleagues at Corporate Executive Board to investigate the skills, behaviors, knowledge, and attitudes that matter most for high performance. And what they discovered may be the biggest shock to conventional sales wisdom in decades.

Based on an exhaustive study of thousands of sales reps across multiple industries and geographies, The Challenger Sale argues that classic relationship building is a losing approach, especially when it comes to selling complex, large-scale business-to-business solutions. The authors' study found that every sales rep in the world falls into one of five distinct profiles, and while all of these types of reps can deliver average sales performance, only one - the Challenger - delivers consistently high performance.

Instead of bludgeoning customers with endless facts and features about their company and products, Challengers approach customers with unique insights about how they can save or make money. They tailor their sales message to the customer's specific needs and objectives. Rather than acquiescing to the customer's every demand or objection, they are assertive, pushing back when necessary and taking control of the sale.

The things that make Challengers unique are replicable and teachable to the average sales rep. Once you understand how to identify the Challengers in your organization, you can model their approach and embed it throughout your sales force. The authors explain how almost any average-performing rep, once equipped with the right tools, can successfully reframe customers' expectations and deliver a distinctive purchase experience that drives higher levels of customer loyalty and, ultimately, greater growth.

©2011 Matthew Dixon (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“The history of sales has been one of steady progress interrupted by a few real breakthroughs that have changed the whole direction of the profession. These breakthroughs, marked by radical new thinking and dra­matic improvements in sales results, have been rare.... Which brings me to The Challenger Sale and the work of the Sales Executive Council.... On the face of it, their research has all the initial signs that it may be game-changing.... My advice is this: Read it, think about it, implement it. You, and your organization, will be glad you did.” (Professor Neil Rackham, author of SPIN Selling, from the foreword)

“The amazing thing is that the Challenger sales rep has been hiding in plain sight all these years. The Challenger Sale breaks the winning elements of this powerful approach into a set of teachable skills that can take even a top sales team to a new level of results delivery.” (Dan James, former chief sales officer, DuPont)

“This is a must-read book for every sales professional. The authors’ groundbreak­ing research explains how the rules for selling have changed - and what to do about it. If you don’t want to be left behind, don’t miss this innovative book that provides the new formula for selling success.” (Ken Revenaugh, vice president, sales operations, Oakwood Temporary Housing)

What listeners say about The Challenger Sale

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    2 out of 5 stars

Bellow average book

Books about sales are never filled with ground breaking discoveries or filled with tactics that people who do sales wouldn't know. Sales books are made to remind you of techniques and motivate you for the time when you face the customer.

This book, however, is less filled with knowledge than an average book and when listening to it I thought I was listening to a commercial promoting writers further services. Most valuable content of the book could be finished in less than 30 mins of reading...

6 people found this helpful

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Telling Selling Gets a Book

I'm grateful this was not the first sales book I read - my career would have suffered.

The last part of the book contains a chapter that uses the Challenger method to push people to buy the program. Listen to that and you'll experience just how offputting this stuff can be to most people.

I think I once had a sales manager who read this because he always asserted he knew the clients business better then they did. He also 'tell sold' and chastised my search for the best questions to ask. The only leads they closed were inbound who were ready to buy. Their outbound leads never went anywhere. I don't find this surprising one bit.

So why does this weird book even exist? I think it stemmed from people trying to sell stuff no one wanted or needed. They got desperate, and in a fit of rage, started to shout at customers... and then it was probably born. In a fit of frustration.

There is one rather big premise I do agree with: many people are unaware of their problems. There are far better question based ways of helping people see them. The issue here is that question based selling is hard for most to learn. It's also hard to learn how to influence, be charismatic, etc. Telling selling is easier, it also fails to sell anyone who hasn't already decided to buy, that's probably why you see a lot of people saying that your marketing must be 'on point' to get challenger working - because you'll need the prospect to be pre-sold.

Last note. This method seems low on emotional and social intelligence.

2 people found this helpful

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Good content, not best fit for audiobook

Not best suited to audio book. Lack of reviews at end of sections hurt it.

1 person found this helpful

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Repetitive, not a lot of value

Buy only if you are new to sales, if experienced in sales this book add close to zero value. I felt in an infomercial for a good part of the book.

1 person found this helpful

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Good Book, Just Needs More Examples

Good read but it needed more examples of people and companies actually adapting the model. I would have liked more examples of how to give a challenger presentation for instance.

1 person found this helpful

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Wish I Knew this 10 years Ago

I am a business owner but before that I was a sales person and what I had come to believe was that I was pretty good at building a business but I was not a great sales person. Therefore, I worked really hard to hire people with natural sales talent. I then hired a sales coach who had a challenger sales training background and learned that It wasn’t that I was not a good sales person, my problem had been I thought building strong relationships was what I needed to be successful. What I learned was that the relationship builder was actually the least successful sales person in the organization, and when I learned why, it made so much sense.

When we learned how to challenge our clients into thinking differently about their business, it was a game changer.

I will say, one of the key components to going from an idea to implementation, is going to be a lot of work. For me, I had already read The EMyth Revisited, which taught me about creating processes. Also, I had started creating special programs and products that were proprietary to my business. So by the time I read this book, all I had to learn was how to reshape and reframe the conversation and approach.

That did not happen overnight, and having the sales coach was incredibly helpful. But if you haven’t done all those other steps, then this book will be part of the long-term business planning strategy and therefore very important.

My sales team and account managers are all learning how to use the challenger sales approach and ultimately my goal is to master the challenger sales process, hire and train more challenger sales reps and have it become a very rinse, wash, repeat system.

Again, for me and where I am in my business, this book was a game changer… the missing link that I was looking for.

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OK, not great

This book is written much like college textbooks, kind of bureaucratic and administrative and corporate in nature, however as a small business owner, I did find the chapter useful that talked about the steps of the Challenger selling process. If there was a way to write that in a tone that was appealing to entrepreneurs and could cover that portion in 30 minutes, it would earn five stars!

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Slow, but very informative.

The overall theme of the book was absolutely intriguing. The delivery takes too long, and the cliff notes for this book would be much shorter and more effective.

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Good content but book is a commercial for their training

Good content but overall, seems like a pretty long commercial for their sales training. Still worth your time though.

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Corporate-focused

Good material for anyone in sales, but we warned it is almost exclusively geared towards corporate-scale sales, still relevant for an independent sales person but not what I was expecting.

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  • TH
  • 07-21-21

Great listen for all salespeople

Great listen, with som really insightful lessons. Will definitely listen again as there's a lot of info to digest.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anubhav Sharma
  • 08-03-20

great book but could've been shorter

great book but could've been shorter. there is some repetition but overall great insights. Kudos

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-14-20

Damning insights, very apt for the times

The content is undoubtedkt vakuable unformation and will be applied going forward.

Struggled towards the end after main insights were laid out.

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  • ben
  • 01-15-20

Great Content Bad Delivery

Content is valuable and highly relevant. Voice over spoke faster than any audio book I’ve ever listened to and this wasn’t enjoyable. On this one occasion, I’d recommend the book to the audible version as the book will be less effort.

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  • Patrick Haynes
  • 01-06-20

Turns traditional models on its head

This isn’t your typical sales manual, filled with promises of its efficacy through confident speech and motivational pep talks.

It is based on data recorded during a vital period and offers genuine insight into why the 80/20 makes itself so apparent and why some reps just don’t seem to break through mediocrity.

It’s focused on B2B however for the rep working with consumers they will find some valuable gems and allow newbies to break free of worn out sales models that do not work for everyone.

It’s not lamen speech and for some they will find the content filled with jargon and difficult to digest in big sittings however I encourage people to keep a notepad and pen nearby to extract key points.

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  • Michael Burns
  • 08-16-19

fantastic...worthy of a deep study!!!

fantastic...worthy of a deep study!!! easy to read and a departure from mainstream sales jargon...totally refreshing

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-15-21

Sales Bible

Please don’t purchase this book! I’d rather keep this secret up my sleeve before the world catches on.

We all think our product is wonderful, but ‘The Challenger Sale’ reminds us that most offers have a similar competitor. It highlights avoiding cringe cliche descriptors that attempt to differentiate, but equate to “sameness” and merely result in price discounting.

How to stand out? Insight driven sales strategy approach, teaching customers about problems they didn’t know they had and creating new customers, not finding them. Ka-Ching, ka-Ching. 💸


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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-03-19

the worst book ever, writers doesn't know anythin

the writers doesn't have any clue about the topic.
it was really a waste of my life to listen to this book!