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It Takes More Than Training To Make a Challenger

by Chris Young - The Rainmaker

A recent post written by a self-described "writer and content marketer" caught my attention. In the post, the author shared their Three Step Guide to Becoming a Challenger Salesperson.

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The three steps:

  • Step One: Identify Your Opportunity.
  • Step Two: Identify the Strongest Solutions.
  • Step Three: Incorporate Your "Lesson" Into Your Messaging.

The advice is good except for one exceptionally dangerous assumption.


The Exceptionally Dangerous Assumption.

Precious few salespeople are "wired" to be a sales wolf or "Challenger". By the way, we refer to Challengers as Sales Wolves.

For clarity purposes, a salesperson is either a Sales Wolf / Challenger or they are not.

If a salesperson is not a true sales wolf, there is almost no amount of training that will help them become a Challenger.

Not everyone gets a trophy.

It is a complete waste of time and money to train those who are not wired to be a Sales Wolf / Challenger.

Therefore the real Step One is beginning with the end in mind by only training a Sales Wolf / Challenger.

The author would probably know this if she had worked in sales management.


The Definition of a Challenger.

A Challenger does the following inherently well (from CEB):

  • Teaches their Customers.
  • Tailors their sales message to the Customer.
  • Takes control of the sale.
  • Builds constructive tension.

If you have not yet read The Challenger Sale, I highly recommend it.


No Amount of Challenger Sales Training Will Undo What God Has Made.

What makes a Sales Wolf / Challenger highly successful in sales is their unique combination of Behaviors, Motivators, Acumen and Competencies.

If a salesperson is missing just one of these powerful components, it is unlikely they will ever be a true Sales Wolf / Challenger.

Precious few salespeople are able to:

  • Take control.
  • Shift on the fly tailoring their message as needed.
  • Teach their Customer anything.
  • Build constructive tension.

So what do you get if you try to train a non-Sales Wolf / non-Challenger salesperson in the art of Challenger selling?

You get a parrot.

Parrot Salespeople = Awkward and Painful.

Think back to the time when you were sold by a salesperson who seemingly tried too hard to impress you. Perhaps you really liked them. You wanted them to deliver value. They just could not. They said all the right things but their delivery was awkward and / or their timing was off.

Avoid Hiring Parrot Salespeople.jpgIt was awkward and painful for both you and the salesperson.

This is what it feels like to engage a "parrot" salesperson. A parrot salesperson is one who has been trained to sell, but lacks edge. "Edge" comes from possessing the requisite Behaviors, Motivators, Acumen and Competencies of a true Sales Wolf.

Training a salesperson to be a Challenger who does not possess the necessary sales personality will result in a "parrot".

I could not live with myself if a parrot salesperson represented my brand.


Let Competitors Hire Parrot Salespeople.

Unless you are using a valid multi-science sales personality test, chances are you will hire parrot salespeople.

You cannot afford to hire parrot salespeople.

Save them for your competitors.


About the Content War.

I have recently unsubscribed from several prominent business publishing newsletters as I realized I no longer read them.

I prefer to read content based on practical experience rather than someone sharing their untested opinions.

I feel violated when I read an article that seems credible and later learn the author is a self-described professional writer who recently graduated college.

We are in the middle of a content war with no end in sight and you, the readers, are the casualties.

Sales Personality Aptitude Test Sample Assessment