In this post, “Top Five Things B2B Sales Reps Need to Know From ‘The Challenger Customer’,” we shared a few highlights to help sales reps increase their effectiveness. Sales management, however, can also adopt techniques and ideas from this book. By doing so, managers can lead their organizations to succeed in the challenger sale. So what can sales managers do to encourage their reps to be challengers? Here are three practical coaching tips:
1. Sales Cycle Entry Point
Most sales reps enter the sales cycle when the customer has already developed a Request For Proposal (RFP). Instead, reps should establish themselves as trusted partners to their customer by entering the sales cycle earlier—even before the customer has a problem or recognizes that they need a solution. Management can encourage this proactive approach.
Entering the sales cycle with a challenger mindset—for yourself and your customer—involves unteaching and reteaching. The unteach/reteach process is a way of providing unique insight to the customer. Managers can arm sales reps with the proper marketing materials to unteach and reteach, while also asking:
- What are we good at?
- What are we uniquely good at?
- Which of our unique capabilities is sustainable?
- How do our unique strengths align with the customer’s goals and priorities?
2. Opportunity Tracking
When tracking opportunities in Salesforce.com or other Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms, sales reps will traditionally identify progress by noting what they have done with the customer. For example, Jim might write that he has “met with the decision makers” or “created a version 1 business case.”
The Challenger Customer suggests that instead, managers should encourage reps to track opportunities based on the customer’s reactions to various deliverables. For example, if Jim approaches tracking from this perspective, he would write that “Decision Maker A agreed to complete the information form,” or “Decision Maker B agreed to take the business case to management.”
By tracking opportunities this way, it is easier to assess the true progress of a deal because each notation is outcome-focused and customer-centric. Progress is determined by the action of the customer, not the rep.