A few weeks ago, Challenger published a whitepaper on Getting the Challenger Journey Right. It follows key principles on change management…you need to know where you want to go and you need to communicate how to get there. No matter what change you’re trying to implement in an organization, those two elements are critical for success.
The Challenger journey for companies is more than just teaching the skills of Teach, Tailor, Take Control, and Build Constructive Tension to sales representatives. It’s setting a vision, communicating it, reframing the minds of your own organization, and ultimately creating a “customer-first” culture.
Building Customer First from the Inside-Out
In a Challenger transformation, one of the biggest shifts sales reps are asked to make is to take on a customer-first mindset. This is not a case of “The customer is always right” mindset, because the very core of Challenger is that you know something that your customer doesn’t.
Challenger is about everyone in the organization, but especially sales and marketing, putting themselves in the customer’s shoes, looking at the customer’s business from the inside, and trying to deeply understand it to establish the credibility to teach them something new.
It’s ultimately having a “customer-first” approach well before and throughout each and every interaction.
- How many sales representatives in your organization can answer the top three priorities of a company they are selling to?
- What major changes is that organization facing in their industry?
- What are the market trends affecting that customer, for better or for worse?
For companies who are on the Challenger journey and focusing on sustaining Challenger with that customer-first mindset, everyone in the organization should be asking and answering these questions about every customer.
One organization we work with has such a focus on the customer that if the head of sales is going to support a customer visit, he asks for a dossier on the customer – what are the changes in the industry? How does that company make money? What is the customer organization doing to win customers? What are they doing to solve their challenges now?
By making this a part of every customer prep meeting, this organization has made it clear they have a vested interest in knowing more about their customers than just the next product they want to sell them.
Think of all the information channels that customers have access to. You’ve probably found yourself at one point or another scanning through pages and pages of product reviews, only to end up back where you started. Now, think about a B2B purchase and how the amount of information used in these purchase decisions has grown exponentially.
Research shows that 46% of customers find conflicting information during the purchase process. Not surprising given the amount of information out there. If customers are only spending 17% of the buying process meeting with potential suppliers, that means if you are 1 of 3, you get just a little more than 5% of a customer’s time, and that’s a scary if you want to make a powerful, differentiated case. You don’t want to be caught sounding like everyone else.
Making the Most of the Customer’s Time
So, how can sellers make the most of that 5% they get face-to-face (or virtual) with a potential customer? The data shows us that Challenger still works, and this is because of a key reason.
Challengers cut through the clutter, shedding light on the critical challenges that a customer is facing but hasn’t fully grasped or thought through, and then guide this customer through the buying process by connecting together and teaching around important pieces of information.
But, Challengers can only successfully do this when they know enough information about the customer to bring a new and unique perspective. This is putting the customer first.