Decoding The Challenger Sale – Effective or Hype?

 the challenger sale

The Challenger Sale book was first published less than a decade ago, quickly becoming the hot topic of discussion across the industry due to its position as ‘Anti Solution Selling’ – a sales methodology adopted by organizations worldwide.

In short, in the book, authors Mathew Dixon and Brent Adamson argue that relationship-building is no longer the best sales method. Subsequently, a conclusion drawn from their findings is one of the most extensive studies ever conducted in Sales.

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The Challenger Sale should be on every good Sales Person’s reading list, but we understand time can often be scarce. So instead, we’ve curated several key summaries from the book to help you get started improving your own sales techniques. 

Here at SOCO we offer Advanced Selling training that incorporates some of the advanced skills reps need to be confident and competent enough to take big deals over the line.

The Challenger Sale Types Of Sales Reps

What Is the Challenger Sales Model?

Firstly the Challenger Sale concept starts by defining five different types of Sales Reps. For example, The Hard Worker, The Relationship Builder, The Lone Wolf, The Problem Solver and The Challenger. Consider that not just one type is the best method for selling but to summarise each approach to compare against your own. Similarly, can you match your characteristics to any of these five types?

 1. The Hard Worker

The Challenger Sale defines the Hard Worker (21% of the sample) as:  

  • Always willing to go one step further. 
  • Super self-motivated.
  • Determined to complete tasks. 
  • Appreciates feedback for personal development. 
  • Don’t give up easily!

2. The Lone Wolf

The Challenger Sale defines the Lone Wolf (18% of the sample) as:

  • They follow their instincts. 
  • Have an abundance of self-assurance.
  • Can be challenging to manage although they can deliver satisfactory results. 

3. The Relationship Builder

The Challenger Sale defines the Relationship Builder (21% of the sample) as:

  • Generous with their time.
  • Maintains excellent connections with everyone.
  • A classic consultative selling representative who asks lots of questions.
  •  They are focused on building relationships with customers.

4. The Problem Solver

The Challenger Sale defines the Problem Solver (14% of the sample) as:

  • Detail-oriented.
  • Laser-focused on solving problems. 
  • They are known for being reliable.
  • Their primary focus is on customer service, not closing sales.

5. The Challenger

Finally, the Challenger Sales Rep (27% of the sample) is defined as:

  • Loves to debate and isn’t afraid to push the limits of the customer. 
  • They’re well versed in the customer’s business, allowing them to give valuable insights the customer might not have come up with independently.
  • Possess the ability to have a changing view of the world. 

Although it is normal for Salespeople to have several archetypes, most people will find that most of their sales habits naturally fall into only one of the five categories.

Don’t worry if not, because as you may have already guessed from the title of the book, authors Dixon and Adamson believe that the most successful salespeople have more of the Challenger sales rep’s sales traits archetype.

Traits of a Challenger Sales Rep

The Challenger Sales Rep excels at adopting unique perspectives when it comes to creating solutions for existing problems. They’re a pioneer of pushing the status quo whilst possessing the ability to get potential customers excited about these new possibilities. Simultaneously, the Challenger Sales Rep can promote his or her products as the ideal innovative solutions to these problems. 

Salespeople who fall into the Challenger Sales Rep archetype also tend to do their homework when it comes to getting to know their customers. Challengers make it their goal to learn as much as they can about what drives a lead’s decision-making process when it comes to economics and values—allowing them to personalize their sales presentation to address these factors.

Finally, the Challenger Sales Rep is relentless when it comes to taking charge of conversations, and fearlessly pushes leads towards closed deals by taking control at every opportunity. 

In short, Challengers Sales Reps win deals by teaching prospects to change their perceptions, tailoring their sales approach to the lead’s personal values and economic needs, and finally taking control of the sales process. 

3 Essential Steps To Incorporate

  1. Identify a unique opportunity to help a lead’s business solve a problem. Since at this stage, you are attempting to teach the prospect something new about their own business, the insight must be something that not even the prospect has thought of themselves. After all, Challenger Sales Reps are experts of changing perceptions. 
  1. Present a solution to take advantage of the insight you offered in the first step. Make sure that you showcase how your solution can directly improve the lead’s business.
  1. Apply firm but gentle pressure to your contact person when it comes to closing the deal. Refuse to negotiate on price while continuously emphasizing the added benefit that your solution will provide to their company. 
3 Challenger Techniques Infographic

The Facts

If you’re still wondering “does the challenger sales model work?” Here’s the hard data that the study produced.

  • 40% of high sales performers primarily used a Challenger style – In comparison to any one of the other four sales styles the book identified. (The Hard Worker, The Relationship Builder, The Lone Wolf and The Problem Solver.)
  • Just a mere 7% of top performers took The Relationship Builder approach – which coincidentally was the worst performing profile.
  • Over 50% of expert performers fit the challenger persona in complex sales.

The Challenger Sale Book Summary

The Challenger Sale teaches that the best sales people don’t just build relationships with customers – they challenge them. Adamson and their colleagues found based on their study of 6,000 sales people, that there are five distinct types of sales people; the Hard Worker, the Challenger, the Relationship Builder, the Lone Wolf and the Reactive Problem Solver.

SOCO Sales Training’s Opinion

Above all, incorporating sales techniques from The Challenger Sale takes experience and effort. While it can be useful when done right, when attempted by inexperienced and not naturally tactful aggressive salespeople, it can backfire and lead to lost sales instead of increased sales. So, It’s essential to understand the book’s concepts whilst building your expertise, to ensure you’re using the appropriate technique that the deal requires. 

Here at SOCO Sales Training, we’re incredibly proud to showcase that we offer an Advanced Selling program. Therefore, preparing you for the challenge of customer training that incorporates advanced skills reps need to be confident and competent enough to take big deals over the line. 

Need to give your Sales Team that winning edge? Ready to cultivate the next Challenger Sales Reps? SOCO Sales Training has you covered – Contact us today for more information on our training packages. 

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