Dec 20, 2022

The Challenger Sales Methodology

Mark Fershteyn
CEO & Co-founder

Business-to-business (B2B) buyers are changing. Instead of long, drawn-out meetings with various suppliers, they prefer to research vendors online before ever speaking with them. This online sleuthings means that B2B customers come to sales meetings with background knowledge about what they want and how much they want it for. Gartner's research indicates that when considering a purchase, B2B buyers spend 27% of their time researching independently online and only 17% of their time meeting with potential suppliers.

Without the need for a features and benefits dance, sellers can focus on what sets their product or service apart and what makes buying from them a "good decision" in a sea of choices. When buyers connect with a sales rep, they are more interested in their purchase experience and why they should buy rather than what they should buy. The Challenger Sales Method is uniquely well-suited to this scenario. Let’s take a look at how it works and who should use it. 

The Challenger Sales System Defined

The Challenger sales model and methodology focuses on teaching, tailoring, and taking control of a sales experience. With the right sales training and sales tools, Dixon and Adamson, the authors of “The Challenger Sale,” believe that sales reps can take control of any customer conversation.

One of the first things you need to do if you want to learn how to take control of a sales situation using the Challenger Sales methodology is to figure out what it means to be a “Challenger.”

Adamson, Dixon, and their colleagues researched the attitudes and behaviors of thousands of sales reps and found that they fall into one of five distinct categories:

  1. Relationship builders:
    Generates customer loyalty, builds strong advocates, is generous with giving their time to help others, and gets along with almost everyone.
  2. Hard workers:
    Goes the extra mile; doesn’t give up easily; takes the initiative and seeks out feedback.
  3. Lone wolves:
    Has a strong sense of self, likes to spend time alone, and is confident in his or her own judgment.
  4. Reactive problem solvers:
    Is very reliable, ensures that all customers' problems are solved, and is detail-oriented.
  5. Challengers:
    Has a holistic view of the customer's business, loves to debate, and pushes the customer out of their comfort zone.

The book's authors claim that 39% of the most successful sales reps are challengers. According to a study by Gartner, on average, star performers were Challengers in complex sales situations 54% of the time.

When working with clients, Challenger reps demonstrate three distinct skills:

  1. Teach—They customize their teachings/presentations to meet the needs of a particular customer based on their knowledge of that customer’s business and their unique perspective.
  2. Tailor—They use their keen awareness of their customers' needs to tailor their message.
  3. Take—They take control of the sale by being able to discuss money comfortably and pressuring their customers to close.

The Sales Methodology

Five-Step Process

Here's a five-step process for adopting the methodology:

Step 1: The warm-up

Challenger sales reps should use intelligent communication skills to build credibility with prospects. They must show prospects that they understand their challenges.

Step 2: Reframe the conversation

During the warm-up, the prospect might have said that their biggest problem is X. The next step is to find out more about why they consider this an issue and how we can help them overcome this obstacle.

Step 3: Use emotions

If a prospect can relate to a product, they are more likely to buy it. Sharing customer stories is a great way to help prospects see the personal value. Sharing stories of others with similar problems helps prospects take the next step. 

Step 4: The value proposition

Now's the time to show the prospect and stakeholders how their lives could be improved if they choose the product or service. 

Step 5: The product

Reps can close the sale by showing their prospects that they have the solution to their problem.


Another way to think about Challenger is with TEMPO. 

The Challenger Method's "TEMPO" looks like this: 

  1. Target:
    If you find the right customers and prioritize your work, you’re one step closer to success.
  2. Engage:
    Reach out and create a demand for your product or service.
  3. Manage:
    Divide the purchasing process into stages and gain agreement on each one.
  4. Plan to close:
    It’s time to finalize the terms and close the deal.
  5. Operate & grow:
    Ensure the account's success by providing superior service and growth.

For frontline reps to be successful in their Challenger approach, the entire organization must embrace this approach by providing them with the support they need.

For more information on Challenger's TEMPO, visit Challenger's website.

Who Can Benefit From This Methodology Enforcement?

In today's complex world of buying, the biggest differentiator between B2B sellers is the sales experience. Challengers are most effective at selling because they take control of the purchase conversation in a way that leads customers back to the unique strengths of their organization.

Businesses can win over customers in competitive markets using the Challenger sales model. Studies have found that the Challenger method is the best sales approach for complex sales conditions.

Other benefits include:

  • Offers customers a unique perspective on products and services that other sales methods fail to offer.
  • Challenger sales reps can communicate effectively with customers.
  • Challenger reps are experts at identifying the economic factors that drive the customer's business, making it easy for them to discuss budgets.

How To Implement The Challenger Sales Methodology With Recapped

Recapped makes it easy for you and your team to implement your favorite qualification framework, like Challenger. Using the platform, you'll never have to create a spreadsheet and send it through email again. The platform streamlines deals, allowing you to align stakeholders in one location and enable perfect executions.

Schedule a quick consultation for a free trial to unlock these our Recapped template with Challenger qualifiers integrated in your sales process in a free trial.

Example of our Mutual Action Plan template enforcing qualification. Request a free trial today to dive deeper!