Whereas The Challenger Sale (see my review of that book) made the case for selling earlier in the buying cycle using insights, The Challenger Customer focuses on why many sales fail to occur – even when sellers lead with insight and create value with senior decision-makers. The title is all about understanding why so many proposals still don’t get signed off and, thus, enter the solutions graveyard.
If you’re a fan of The Challenger Sale, the authors’ central message is to continue on that path, but to get smarter by absorbing the following points:
Overall thoughts? The Challenger Customer follows the CEB approach of using deep research and producing counter-intuitive findings that make you reconsider what's best for your company. The core message is don’t just ‘get in earlier’, but, get in earlier with the (not always obvious) right people, focus on individual and group needs to get consensus, and arm your ‘mobiliser’ contact to influence sceptical colleagues.
In my extensive experience of advising companies on trusted adviser models, two of the largest issues raised by those implementing Challenger selling concepts are that a) creating highly differentiated insights is too hard and b) adoption efforts run out of steam. This has resulted in some organisations trying, but then turning their back on this approach, or struggling along hoping they can still succeed.The Challenger Customer acknowledges these hurdles and, of course, has added a range of 'new' issues for Sales & Marketing to deal with.
Some companies may question whether they can take on more change; instead, they will want to get better with the fundamentals of leading with insight and engaging executive decision-makers. However, those that have successfully embedded Challenger selling will find this book a useful tool when considering what else to adopt.