Since the publication of both The Challenger Sale and The Challenger Customer, we’ve met many organizations – both their senior leaders and front-line sales reps, who’ve said to us; “we tried to do Challenger on our own and we can’t get it right.” As the organization who wrote the book and has implemented the concept in over 600 companies, we appreciate the hard work and the struggle needed to make Challenger happen – we live it every day.
The good news is that all the hard things about rolling out Challenger are solvable. I’ve worked across 30+ Challenger implementations at mid-sized companies in North America and I've noticed a few common trends when they fall down in the effort. It's usually for one of three reasons:
- They lack cross-functional alignment
- Sales managers aren’t bought in to the process
- They can’t get commercial insight right
We’ve applied our research and lessons learned in our Challenger implementations to solve for each of these – something no one else can truly say. The third reason organizations fall short – creating a commercial insight – is the hardest and where I’ll focus for the purpose of this blog.
Companies Trying to ‘Do Challenger’ Still Jump to Solution Too Quickly
The main reason commercial insights fall short of engaging customers is those delivering them jump straight to the solution without building a strong enough case for changing the customer’s status quo. The customer must take a journey of sorts to truly understand the impact status quo thinking has on their business.
Understanding the Importance of the Reframe
The key step in this journey (or choreography) is the Reframe. It sets the stage by highlighting what the customer is missing and helps them understand both the pain of status quo and the need for action to solve the problem.
Rational Drowning and Emotional Impact follow the Reframe, each magnifying the cost of status quo and building constructive tension. But after arriving at the Emotional Impact portion of the choreography, many message deliveries jump right to the solution. This is a subtle, but crucial problem. What's missing is a recommended New Way, an objective counter balance to the Reframe.
Imagine if your childhood best friend were listening to your commercial insight – you wouldn’t necessarily jump to the “hard sell,” right? You’d lay out the key points to focus on as an objective recommendation, knowing all along your solution is best positioned to help.
A solid Reframe (with supporting Rational Drowning and Emotional Impact) together with a clear, objective New Way makes the commercial insight. This is how the pain of same becomes greater than the pain of change and the customer is moved to action.
AchieveIt Delivers a Sales Experience That Drives Customer Loyalty
We recently worked with the Atlanta-based software company, AchieveIt, to build a powerful commercial insight message. AchieveIt provides a platform for organizations to efficiently manage, drive, and analyze all of their initiatives, cross-team plans and projects. Using the system, companies make better decisions and produce greater results.
AchieveIt does not have many true competitors, but a lot of perceived competitors in similar spaces. Differentiating itself and its solution was the first task, and finding a commercial insight to underscore the customer’s pain of status quo was the second.
Before adopting Challenger, AchieveIt's pitch talked early and often about the features of the platform – highlighting the strength of the product/solution and the experience of working with the team. Like most startups or early stage organizations, the company didn’t give the customer a real reason to care or feel invested in the new product. This lead to both a lack of connection with early majority customers and price-based conversations.
In the new message, AchieveIt teaches early majority customers a new way of thinking about an issue they don't fully understand. Only then can they appreciate a solution.
You can experience the message below. As you watch it, pay particular attention to how the salesperson leads the dialogue by building credibility and exposing an under-appreciated issue.
He then outlines (in both a rational and emotional way) the cost of inaction. Ultimately, he leads to AcheiveIt as the preferred (and perhaps only) partner to solve the issue.
Contributor John Shea
John is a Senior Consultant with the Challenger Activation team. He’s worked across 30+ Challenger transformations and has led the development of over 80 commercial insights in partnership with our clients. Before Challenger he worked in both corporate strategy and sales/marketing operations.