challenger sale
The Challenger Sale has become one of the most popular sales books of the past decade. The book, from authors Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, puts a new spin on the traditional relationship sale. 

The Challenger Sale flips the assumption that the most successful sales reps are “relationship builders.” In the past, sales best practices have emphasized understanding your buyers, building relationships across the organization and intimately understanding their pain points. While these are all good, they don’t consistently produce sales.

The best sales performers, based on the authors’ data from working with thousands of sales reps, are the people that challenge their customers to think about their business in a new way. By partnering with marketing to create stories on how their industry is changing and illustrating a missed opportunity, “challengers” are able to reframe the conversation.

Instead of starting presentations with a discussion about your company, how long you’ve been in business, and your latest round of venture-capital funding – you simply focus on the customer and solving their problems.

Challengers teach customers about a new opportunity they are missing and then guide prospective customers towards their company’s solutions.

The secret is challenging customers to think about their business in a new way. By telling a story of challenging the status quo, it’s as if you’re giving your customer a secret weapon against their competition.

Once you’ve reframed the discussion around an unknown problem and opportunity, it’s then the challenger’s job to guide the sale. Because they are experts, challengers know who else from the team must be involved in the sales process and the best way to work towards a successful implementation. Challengers drive this process; they don’t rely on their buyers to figure it out on the fly.


  • Challenger sales reps are much more likely to be top performers
  • Be prepared to educate your customer about an opportunity they are missing (and an opportunity to get an edge on their competition).
  • Make sure marketing is prepared to continually feed new insights, and supporting content, to your sales team
  • Once your initial client advocates have bought in, be prepared to dictate who else from the company needs to be involved and the next steps required

While the challenger sales process may feel uncomfortable at first, it’s an incredible way to position yourself and your company as experts, while avoiding being labeled as “just another vendor.”

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