Entertaining The Right People: Understanding The Challenger Customer

Entertaining The Right People: Understanding The Challenger Customer

When trying to engage a particular prospect, most sales people have historically started by asking themselves this question: 

"Who makes the purchase decision in this organization?"

That's not as true today. Dramatic shifts in our sales landscape have changed the nature of this question.  Today's buyer is more than one person. It’s not just two or three people. It could be, on average, 10 or 11 people, actively involved in a group B2B decision-making process.

This is a “consensus buy” and can be found in most complex solution selling environments. The relevant question for the seller to ask is not ‘who is the right buyer’ but ‘how will this group of 8 to 11 people buy together?’ The sales strategy must include coordinating schedules, building consensus on the commercial insight and the related offering, and bringing final agreement to the group.

Selling to the consensus buying group

Our book “The Challenger Customer”, published in 2015, presents compelling research that helps to answer this new question. It turns out that talking to the right person, or people, within the buying group makes a big difference in which direction the group moves. This is based on research that highlights three ‘types’ of buyer profiles that sellers encounter within the group, not all being equal:

The Talker:
  • Easily accessible
  • Freely shares information
  • Prioritize himself/herself above others
The Blocker:
  • Hard to access and resistant to change
The Mobilizer:
  • Displays a healthy level of skepticism.
  • Shows an interest in the greater good, using ”we” language instead of “me” language

Talkers love to learn new things and share information on the day-to-day pain points in their business. While this information can be enormously helpful for a seller looking to understand, Talkers often don’t have sufficient urge or impetus to build group consensus or champion an idea.

Blockers tend to dismiss sellers and shoot down whatever new information or resources may shift the business away from status quo.

Identifying the Mobilizer

The Mobilizer is the key player in a consensus group. This is who sellers should actively seek to find. Mobilizers work to drive change and break through status quo thinking. They are a seller's greatest advocate and cheerleader, and are a crucial part of building credibility and consensus internally.

Mobilizers are skeptical and not easily convinced, which is why enhancing the standard sales call with quality Commercial Insight and a healthy dose of constructive tension is often necessary to win them over. 

The earlier in the buying journey a seller can identify a potential mobilizer, the easier it will be to get the whole team on board to make the purchase.

Key characteristics to look for in a Mobilizer:

  • Responds to Commercial Insight 
  • Is willing to critically explore the topic 
  • Cares more about the greater good of the organization than simply his/her role on the team

For more information on The Challenger Customer and our corresponding Challenger Solutions, visit us here.