This is a book review of The Challenger Sale written by Dixon and Adamson in 2011. The Challenger Sell evokes reactions and disturbs conventional thinking.  The authors want to encourage organizations, groups and sales people to ‘push the customer’s thinking and teach them something new.’ [1] It is not surprising therefore, that the reader is given a ‘challenge’ to think about how you behave during the customer conversation.

Even the introduction by Neil Rackham stirs up controversy with the assertion that “How you sell has become more important than what you sell. An effective sales force is a more sustainable competitive advantage than a great product stream.” [2]

Are You a Disturbing Force?

Many believe “You are only as good as the product you sell.”  In some of my groups, I found a lot of analysts, sales managers and leaders disagree with some points the The Challenger Sale makes. However, that may be exactly what the authors want! By disturbing conventional thought, readers may say “I never thought of that” or “I wonder if that’s true?” This pattern of disturbance is a theme in the book; leading the reader to consider a different way of thinking.

The book is a mixture of process, strategy and perspective. The authors defy the notion that sales is all about relationships.  Three behaviors that sales people can adopt to improve are: Teaching, Tailoring and Taking Control[3] There are many positive aspects to these actions. Teaching helps customers learn, think and feel in new ways. Tailoring is adjusting the message to the audience. I love the phrase “solution selling is customization in the moment.” [4] Taking Control (another deliciously disturbing idea) is inserted to get sales people to maintain momentum across the entire sales process.

The best way to summarize is to confess that I have bought two copies of The Sales Challenger. It makes me slightly upset, causes me to rethink long held views and well, challenges me! If youwould like to read it, then go buy it by clicking on this link https://www.amazon.com/Challenger-Sale-Control-Customer-Conversation/dp/1469000725.

[1] The Challenger Sale. Dixon and Adamson. 2011. Penguin. P. 21

[2] Neil Rackham. Introduction. P XVI

[3] The Challenger Sale. Dixon and Adamson. 2011. Penguin P33

[4] The Challenger Sale. Dixon and Adamson. 2011. Penguin P. 78


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