The Sales Hacker Podcast
The Sales Hacker Podcast

Episode · 3 years ago

37: The Fundamentals of Challenger Selling with Challenger Author, Brent Adamson

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

This week on the Sales Hacker podcast, we talk to Brent Adamson, who co-authored the foundational sales book, The Challenger Sale, and who has recently released The Challenger Customer: Selling to the Hidden Influencer Who Can Multiply Your Results.  Brent walks us through the key foundational elements of Challenger concepts and gives us the tools we need to get started with a new approach to sales.

One, two, one, three, three, hey everybody, welcome to the salesaccer podcast. It's your host, Sam Jacobs. I'm the founder of the revenue collective. We've now gotchapters in Boston, Denver, Toronto, London, Amsterdam and New York.So we are becoming the largest global community for commercial executives at high growth companiesin the world, and I'm also the chief for Hav an officer off behaveos. But today, as you know, I am hosting the PODCAST and we'refocused on an interview with somebody that we all should know about. It's BrentAdamson. So Brent Adamson was the CO author of the Challenger Sale and alsothe newly released the Challenger customer, which the full title is the Challenger customer, selling to the hidden influencer who can multiply your results. Brent's a frequentcontributor on sales topics at HBR, Harvard Business Review. He's been published inBloomberg Business Week, Forbes and selling power. He's been at Gartner, originally corporateexecutive board, for fifteen years. And we are talking with literally theguy who wrote the book, one of the guys who wrote the book onthe entire Challenger concepts, starting with the Challenger sale and two thousand and eightand now with the newly released challenger customer, which was a really important book thatI've recently just finished reading and super important for sort of multi stakeholder complexenter price sales cycles, of which I am typically involved. Now, beforewe get started, we want to thank our sponsors, as always. Thefirst is air call. Are All as a phone system designed for the modernsales team. They seamlessly integrate into your crm. They're eliminating data entry foryour reps and they give you greater visibility into your teams for performance through advancereporting. When it's time to scale, you can add new lines and minutesand use in caall coaching to reduce Ram time. For you new reps,visit are call io forward sales hacker. That's are called dot io forward salesecor type that into computer right now. Buy something from them so that wecan keep making the podcast and see why a bunch of other amazing companies allusing are called. Our second sponsor is also outreach. Outreach Dot ioh isthe leading sales engagement platform. Outreach triples the productivity of sales teams and empowersthem to drive predictable and measurable revenue growth by prioritizing the right activities and scalingcustomer engagement with intelligent automation. Outreach makes customer facing teams more effective and improvesvisibility into what really drives results. So go over to outreach dot IO,forward sales hacker, where you can see how thousands of customers, including cloudare, glass door, Pandora Zillo, all rely on outreach to deliver.And finally, finally, want to thank some fans out there that have beenemailing me and reaching out to me on Linkedin. Rachel Gray, Brent Gionia, I hope I pronounce his last name correctly, Laura Gara, Alice andKrieger, Walsh, Timothy Hartnett, Harrison Johnson, make Gujia, and thenor in Freedman, who was emailing me back and forth. We were talkingabout podcast concepts and he said that he's hoping for something like an hour anda half of long, like Joe Rogan. If you guys are interested in somethingof that length, really going deep with the particular interview subject, dropme a line and Linkedin and let me know. So that's been a longpreample. Let's get to the heart of the matter, which is an amazingconversation with Brent Adamson, the CO author of the Challenger Sale, the COauthor of the Challenger customer and a really respected, an acclaimed author and speakerand facilitator from Gartner. So let's listen. Hey, everybody, it's Sam Jacobs, the host of the sales hacker podcast. I'm also the founder ofthe revenue collective and the chief of an officer a company called Behave Os.Today we are extremely excited. We're talking to one of the CO authors ofnot just a series of books, but really a methodology and a philosophy thathas really transformed how people sell over the last fifteen, twenty years, andthe first book, which I'll mention, had a big impact on me andthen the second book, which actually just read, had an even bigger impactbecause I'm in the middle of a company who sells exactly the way that thatthis book describes. So, without further ado, let's talk about who weregoing to be talking to right now.

Brent Adamson is a distinguished vice presidentat Gartner. He's the CO author of the Challenger Sale, taking control ofthe customer conversation and the newly released the Challenger customer selling to the hidden influencerwho can multiply your results. In addition, Brent's a frequent contributor on sales topicson Harvard business reviews blog, as well as being published in Bloomberg Businessweke, Forbes and selling power. Brent's been at the company for fifteen years throughthe acquisition of Corporate Executive Board. That then became Ceb into Gartner, andthen before that, many, many years ago, he was he was teachingGerman, I think, at Michigan State University and Lansing Michigan. So He'sbeen doing this for fifteen years. been doing this for a long time.Welcome, Brent Tay Sam's great to be with you and everyone. It's ashould be a fun conversation. Looking forward to it. I think we're.First of all, we're just honored to have you, but there's probably threepeople in the world but that aren't familiar with the Challenger sale at this pointand so for their benefit, even though you know the rest of the eightbillion, Ur walk us through that first critical, almost revolutionary you know it'sa book but, as I mentioned, it's a philosophy, it's it's away of life, and talk to us about what the central tenets of theChallenger sale are before we dive into the challenge or customer. But shares.AM absolutely. I be happy to do the I've never really thought of itas a way of life before, but I kind of like that. Yeah, for what it's worth, my perspective, what I really think of as moreanything else, and for that matter the challenge of customer as well,is his research and and that's does the if you go back fifteen years inmy weird background as an academic, you know I've essentially built a twenty,five, thirty year career of researching and teaching that kind of things, andfor the last fifteen years it's been be tob sales and marketing. And soif you go back to about two thousand and eight, two thousand and nine, you're you remembered two thousand and eight. Say things were not so good ifyou were selling back in two thousand and eight because even if you wereselling, nobody was buying right the economy was about to go off a cliff. Things were really dire and if you talk to heads of sales around theworld as we did back then and we continue to. The one thing youheard over and over again, well, you here two things. One waswe're not selling anything, and there was near I don't about panic, buta lot of concern, obviously, as just demand dried up. But thething that was the second thing we heard was really intriguing to all of us, including heads of sales who were sharing it with us, was how isit that an arguably the single worst economy in recent memory, if not ever, I still have these one or two people in my team who are crushingtheir number, who are still at hunting. Everyone else is a forty percent agaland I got these two people at a hundred and forty percent agle.How is that even possible? And so that that led us on a journey, through a huge amount of research that continues on to this day in fact, to try to figure out what sets those very different and very fact ofsales professionals apart from everyone else. And and in doing that work that's whatled ultimately to the challenger sale and the premise and really the findings at thework is largely based on this idea that when we studied what originally was aboutsix thousand sales reps is now well over a hundred units, somewhere between oneand two hundred thousand Reps. last time I checked all over the world,across geographies, go to market models, channels, industries, you name it, and we tried to understand what sets the best part from everyone else and, low behold, not something we'd originally planned on studying. But it turnedout, and we can come back to all the methodology Sim if you want, but just very briefly, it turns out virtually every sales professional is thistendency to fall into one of five distinct profiles. There's a relationship builder,a challenge or a hard worker, and so I know what was really interestingis when we step back and looked at these five profiles, and is thatwhen and compare them to actual performance, we found one of the five wasperforming head and shoulders above the other for one of them was falling dramatically behind, and was prettically interesting, particularly back, you know, in two thousand andeight, when we show these results ahead of sales, they would tellyou what. It's actually kind of hard to look at because we're placing ourbiggest bet on the profile least likely to win and so the profile most likelyto win was a challenger. Up in the one least likely to win was, in fact, what we've ultimately come to relationship builder, and it's ledus on this journey of trying to understand who are these challengers? What arethey doing that is so different? What about these relationship builders? Do relationshipsnot matter in sales? I think we'd all agree relationships absolutely do matter insales, although even that is changing.

But it all comes back down tothis verious, fundamental question, which is what is the relationship that you're seekingto establish with your your customers? What is it built on? Is itbuilt on purely familiarity? Where is it built on something we've come to calledinsight, your ability to come to your customer and challenge their thinking, thusname challenger, teach them a new way to think, not about your company, but to think about their company, and a new way to make money, save money, mitigate risk and ways that they didn't even know where possible. And it's those sales professionals who can diplomatically, professionally, culturally correctly challengethe thinking of their customer to get that customer think differently about what they're doing. How they're running their business a new way to be more competitive that theyhadn't fully appreciated. They're the ones that are most likely to win. Sothat the Challenger story is all about who are these individuals? How can wereplicate those behaviors? What are the skills behind it? What does that insightlook like? You name it, you know, one of the the thingsthat I've noticed in the in my travels is that a lot of people haven'treally read the book, but they see the name the challenger, and theysay, Oh yeah, we do challenger, and what they mean is sort oflike this aggressive, confrontational style, I like being adversarial with the customer, which is which is not what it means. What it means is whatyou just said, which is challenge the thinking and sort of bring commercial insightand commercial teaching into the conversation so that you can teach them how to thinkabout a new a new way of thinking about their business. What was itin your research that? How do you do that, like, how doyou figure out what are the insights that you should bring? I'm sure it'sa conversation that could last hours, but what are some of the highlights interms of developing the right tools so that a rep can can move from relationshipbuilder to Challenger. It's interesting for by the way, I'd say real quicklythe the thing that I think is funny is I even a little I'm alittle concerned with people say, Oh, we do challenger, we did reada book, because there's so much we've learned since we wrote that book aboutthe world and the world that we're all selling into and it much of itactually is in fact captured in book number two, the Challenger customer, whichis at then the direct answer to your question, which is how do wego about challenging the customer in the way not that they think about us,but they think about their own business and and so actually raises really eating questionsand which we explore and significant depth of book number two, which is ifyou're going to change the way your customer thinks about their business, and what'sthe first thing you got to understand? What do you think? What doI think? Well, I have to one of the things I need tohelp them understand is that the status quo is untenable. Yep, that's good. I like where you're starting with. Let me let me but there's areal specific answers. Questions a bit of a trick question to so it's alittle unfair to putch on the spot. Wrong. Nobody laughing. Get itwrong. You got it right, but I'm going to back up a stepand just think I'm in really boil it down to brass tacts, which is, if you're going to change the way a customer thinks about their business,what's the first thing you have to understand? And most people to answer that questionswhy I got to understand their business. And it's almost drape and not quite, which is it's not so much you have to understand their business,but if you can change away a customer thinks about their business, the firstthing you have to understand is how they think about their business. You haveto understand what we've come to call a mental model, and this is whatwe break down and get into a lot of detail of carts, couple chapters, and book number two is how does that customer, that perspective customer,that current customer, think about their business? What do they prioritize? What dothey think is important? What are they currently running after? What aretheir priorities? What are their goals and a source of course, you know, in the old sort of classic solution selling approach we used to say,well, yeah, you have to understand the stuff is. Just go askthem all those questions. Be See what are you working on, what's keepingup and I what are your priorities? And nobody has the time or thepatients to answer all those questions are being interrogated by a sales rap. Butnonetheless that is the starting point. So there's a there's a lot of work. That mean note not just the individual level, what the organizational role.Where they supply our organization, you know, collaboratively, can sit down and saywhat do we know about a customer, not just discustomer, but a customerlike this? How to, how to organizations like this typically operate?What do they typically consider to be important in working with other companies like that? What we found to be their key challenges? And then step back andit once you lay all that out. So the lay out that mental model. That's sort of step one. How does that customer think about their business? What do they think is important? And the step two is the dosomething really sort of contrarian, which is it back and say, okay,what they miss would they get wrong?...

So normally we ask those questions tofind out what do you think? Okay, if that's what you think, here'show I can deliver help. But rather and step two in the Challengerworld. Is Okay, if that's what you think. What do you overlookit? What did you miss? Where might your logic be faulty or incomplete? Again, not with a view towards correcting them or fixing them per se, but adding to their knowledge, helping them understand the world and from perspectivethey haven't fully appreciate it on their own. So so we think about in termsof building a mental model and then breaking a mental model. So builda model. How do they think about the world, and then break thatmodel. How can how can we help them think about it in a moreeffective way than they're doing on their own right now? Do we have toread the books and sequence? Is it helpful? What are the key differences? Obviously, one ostensibly is about the rap and about the qualities of aproper sales cycle and the second is about understanding the customer better. But shouldwe read them in sequence? And what are the key distinctions between the Challengersale and the challenge or customer? Well, you know I think in many waysthe book I'd read first is the book I'n't written yet, which isthe third one which is up in my head. So it's not doing anybodyany good right now. But the because I think all of the context withinwhich all of this is happening is changing really fast and it's the context isnot on the selling side, it's on the buying sides. We just seecustomers be to be customers engage in just radically different sets of buying behavior thanthe we're even on our radar screen when you first wrote the book. Eitherone of them. But that's not a very helpful answer. So because allthat shows up in our articles and our blogs and things like that, inour meetings and that material now. But the place I start, I guess, would be when I I never read any book completely. So I guessI'd Skim Book One. I'd read the first couple chapters, maybe the firstthree chapters one. I'd skim them and then I dive into book number two. For what it's worth, if for my own personal belief, I thinkbook number two is a better book. It is richer, it is moredetailed and has its more practical and it also is just it's better only becausewe just knew so much more when we were book number two then when wewrote number one and where there's a quick review of the Challenger concepts and booknumber two, so the Challenger customer. But but I think, I thinkin many ways book number two is more interesting and where our research continues topush because it's not really about selling at all as much as we're talking aboutselling right now and the books are sensibilier about selling. Book Number Two theChallenger customers actually, as you know, Sam's more about buying and I'll tellyou honestly, over the last about seven or eight years this is where we'veturned almost all of our attention. That Gartner in the sales and marketing practiceis not so much studying how can we sell more effectively or market more effectively, but how our customers buying today and what is that shifting buying behavior meanfor how we need to sell going forward? And I think one of the reasonswhy that matters so much is because, you know, as I've traveled aroundthe world and shared the ideas of Challenger and you know, big stagesand small around the world, I find that, particularly when you were workingwith veterans, sell sales professionals, people have been selling for twenty, thirtyyears and be doing an incredibly successfully. They'll off and kind of sit inthe back of the room where her arms crossed and that kind of gruff,angry look on their face is thetre to me, like WHO's this guy?Thinks he knows that he's do and right. German professor, like what does thatmean? Where did that come so these a you know, who are youto stay on this stage and tell me how to sell differently when in factI've got thirty year track record of doing amazing things. I've been to Cancunfor the last, you know, twenty years in a row on the presenceclub trip. I got more loose sight trophies on my cred Denza than anyoneelse the company, saying I'm the top sales professional. And so what wefind is that the only way to really have that conversation with that individual who'sincredibly skeptical of anything new, is to come at it not from a you'reselling wrong and I'm here to fix you perspective, which is completely nonproductive.This is the nonstarter, and that's really now I think about it anyway.Rather it to come at it from the perspective of irrespective of whether or notyou've been successful in the past, the world that we are selling into todayis just different. It is he customers are acting different, they're engaged ina different set of behaviors, they're operating in a different context, a contextthat you know, denominated in information and run by the Internet, and thatchanges everything. And so when you start thinking about it as a sort oflet me show you what happens when you...

...take the old world is selling andrun it into the teeth of the new world of buying and show you howthings fall apart. This is a more productive way to think about it andthat's where you won't catch much of that in the original book, the ChallengerSale, because we just weren't thinking about that at the time. But Ithink the challenge your customer kind of picks up, at least it begins topick up on a lot of those teams of just how buying is different andwhat it means for all of us before we dive into the challenge or customer, because it again to the point I just read it and I've got tonsof questions. Yeah, it's great to have you on the thought if you'rea relationship builder, if you're somebody that has been identified as sort of,you know, a rep or our profile or a set of attributes or behaviorsthat is ill equipped to handle the modern selling environment, is it that yourresearch tell you that it's possible to change? Can you become a challenger, orare these patterns sort of ingrained in some way that makes it very difficultto evolve? It's actually the former, so, which is to say webelieve that anyone can adopt the set of behaviors. In fact, that theentire research project, from beginning in and continuing on today, is always builtaround behaviors, as opposed to say talents or, you know the great workthat Gallop has done over the years, for example, of the just theinnate traits that were all sort of born with. where the be charisma orsomething like that. Well, we find that stuff really interesting. We didn'twant to study it only because we didn't want to land on a story thatyou could do nothing about. It's like, well, I guess you're there's nohope for you. Is it's not a very, you know, helpfulor optimistic sort of idea. So so what we studied was behavior, skillsand knowledge, attitudes, all of which can be changed through training, throughcoaching, through just MoD off, you know, just best studying practice.And so what we find is that ninny given organization, anywhere between. We'refinding is most heads of sales have gone down this journey and there's been many, many, many sales organizations are the world of invested pretty heavily in thestuff these ideas over the years. And what we find just it's anecdotal,but on average heads of sales will tell us somewhere between twenty, two thirtypercent of their sales force either cannot or will not go on the Challenger journey, no matter how much help you give them to mine, how much trainingyou provide, how much coaching you you support them with, they just don'tseem to be cut out for that. But if you flipped out on itshead, Sam, that means, you know, seventy eighty percent of salesforce can in fact and does get there. And and what I what I oftenfind is that the bigger challenge is not skill but in fact will.It's goes back to the you know, I think I know we're doing.Just get out of my way, let me do my job. Or whileyou want me to kind of challenge the customers thinking that feels a little provocative, that feels a little tough, and I just I just kind of wantto be everybody's friend. And that's not to say that challengers are unfriendly,because in fact they can be incredibly friendly. I think. I think if youto you, in fact, I'll tell you something. I'm you wasinteresting when you dig into the Daty. Know what? The second best thingthat most world class challengers are great at. They're great relationship building, so thatthere's nothing to say that these two things have to be exclusive. Infectis the opposite. I'd say that most great challengers are in fact fantastic atrelationships. It's just they're basing that relationship not so much unfamiliarity, oh mykids went to that same college, that's awesome right, but rather they're basingthat conversation interaction on on insights and ideas, which is what your customers ultimate arelooking for anyway. Yeah, well, I mean it's encouraging to hear thatit's possible to evolve so let's dive into the Challenger customer. So whatI wanted to do is I wanted to sort of like articulate the stereotypical orthe Classic Enterprise Cell Cycle and then have you just tear it to shreds basedon their recherch that you've done. So you know typically what we see right, what we're taught, and maybe this is going even further back when itreally wasn't so much multi stakeholder. But first of all you use bant orsome kind of qualification methodology that tells you, do they have budget US or authority? Need timing, and authority is a key one, right. Sowhat you're taught in an enterprice sale cycles need to get above the power line, you need to speak to power and you need to be dealing with thepeople that ultimately sign the checks and those are the only people that make decisions. And so the sales process is about, as you mentioned before, you havelike a medic or medical or Med pick cars or you know some acronymthat basically is a checklist for the rep yeah, cross off in terms ofwhat they need to get, questions they need answered, and they take thatlist probably as high as they can get it to the chief something or otherofficer that they're selling to and they fill...

...out all the information and then,you know, at some point they move through percurement, etcetera, etc.But so walk us through why that doesn't really work anymore and walk us throughthe key concepts that we should be familiar with as it relates to the challengeor customer. Well, so, you know, over the years is asvirtually every large bee, tob or and, as suppose, small for that matter, or sales organizations move towards the posture of selling some kind of what'scalled solution. Right. So, whether you sell an individual product and individualservice, largely you've added more capabilities, more services, more products around thatone original package to ultimately form what we've all kind of collectively come to calla solution, and we're all trying to sell these broader solutions, which addmore value to the custom organization, at a higher price point, at ayou know, a bigger margin. And of course we're doing this not justbecause it's better price point, better margin, but also because it allows us todifferentiate ourselves from the competition. Right, if you're selling an individual product that'seasily replicable it's very quickly commoditizable at the same time. So the theway you escape that come out of desation trap, of course, as youare for you know, broader solution that offers more value to more people acrossthe custom organization. Now, the thinking originally in solution selling, and probablywas a right at some point, I guess, but was if you're goingto sell this bigger, broader solution with a wider footprint and arguably the higherprice point, then the only way to really get that sold into an organizationis that you got to get high up in that organization. You got toclaw your way to the corner office, you got to get into the seasweet, you got to sell the Veedo, whether it is that. You gotto find that really important person has the altitude, the scope, theauthority to look down across that broader solution and say absolutely, let's go.And so that that's been the you know, there's kind of too sort of marchingorders we've all received over the years and selling these kinds of solutions isnumber one, get as high as you can and number two, you gotto find a champion, right, so a senior so the ultimate Unicorn islike that. Senior advocate right, that senior executive who's going to take yourflag and champion you across the customer organization and say you, we gotta buy. These guys are awesome. What we found is that, for many differentways and for many the reasons, that person first of all doesn't exist.But more importantly, and here's why I think, well, there's a coupleof reasons why, but I think the thing that's especially important to acknowledge nowis that even if you were to find that person, that very senior CSUITEofficer who loves your solution and wants to integrate that it technology or that newhrm solution or that you know that that consulting engagement, whatever it is,Cross your organization, we're finding even those senior individuals are our own willing tobuy that solution on their own. And frankly, they're smart not to bewilling to buy that on their own because they know, they've come to realize, that these solutions have become big enough and broad enough and and integrated enoughinto other parts of the organization that lots of different people have to sign offon this. And so, as in many ways the heart and soul ofthe sort of the launching pad of the Challenger customer was this very specific datapoint which we discovered in studying how these solutions actually get purchased and and whenwe studied thousands and thousands of individual individuals, stakeholders, all involved in some purchaseof a large complex solution, we simbly asked all these individuals, howmany people in your organization are typically involved in the officially in this purchase andhave to ultimately sign off on its on its on its purchase and implementation?And then number came back at five point four. So that entire book theChallenger customers all written about the five point four, the five point four,the five point four individual stakeholders across an organization who all ultimately have to signoff on a deal to get it done. Now a couple things about that.Sam. That's interesting that that five point four number is since that bookcame out, and this is why I talked about a more recent research,is since we first did the research that sits in in that book the Challengercustomer. We've rerun that research every year. We continue to ask every year.You know, somewhere between two and four thousand individual stakeholders all involvement ofcomplex purchase of would be tob solution. How many people are involved in thepurchase? The the next year went the next year we got the data back. One from five point four up to six point eight. From it wentfrom six point eight up to seven points something. This year we got thedata back. It's over nine. So it's a huge, huge number andI think it actually it might be worth...

...while to talk about why that numberis so high. But just anecdotally it's really interesting. I did a meetingof chief sales officers back in June and Chicago and I was sharing our latestdate on that number. There's out of sales are it's, you know,look just is because it's honestly, it's gone up so fast and so muchSam that we actually had as a research organization have begun to doubt our methodology. It's like, how could this number be so high? How could theexact same methodology return such a dramatically and rapidly increasing number? And we actuallyhad a big meeting here in our office, Isnar linked the regime, about whetheror not we still trust the number and we should report it publicly.And it's now we reported as a range of six to ten, but aheadof sales in Chicago. So, that said, one of a chief salesoff from meetings. Is Funny you say it, because I think you're right. You should doubt that number, not because it's too high, but becauseit's too low. These are the all I'm not. I'm not doubting andI'm depressed about it. Right, you know, he said they recently wentout and did a closing call and there was a multimillion dollar deal and they'vebeen the thing had been in the pipeline for like eighteen months. Right,it's not like they didn't know what's going on. And they had they hadthe champion, they had that senior advocate who wanted their solution. They were, in fact, they were so sure that this deal is going to closethat they flew up the senior leadership of their company on the corporate jet withthe contract in the hand and the Mole Bla all pain and ready to signthe contract. Was All excited and there their best suits and their cuff linksand ready to go, ready to go, and they they walk in the doorof the customer organization and, I kid you not, there's literally sixteendifferent people sitting around the conference table, all waiting for that meeting and andthey thought it was gonna be like one guy who's going to sign off onthe deal and everyone's going to be happy. And instead that meeting started with thosesixteen individuals all introducing themselves to each other. Right, oh, yourbrother, brockure, but I've never been so great to put a name witha face. We've only met on email, you say, and which has ledus to, by the way, it conclude the single rule of sales. Today, as you know, you're not going to close a deal onthe meeting. The custom meeting begins with customers introducing themselves to each other.But this is what happens in the world that we're in it and again,this is evolved even rapidly since the customer, the challenge a customer, came out, which is if you think about why are there's so many people involvedin the purchase of a solution, it's the very few part of is thevery thing that I started this response with, which is as we seek to expandthe scope and the value that of the solution that we deliver so thatit touches more people inside the customer organization and delivers more value for more people. It stands reason all those people are want to have to say in whatactually gets purchased. But but I think particularly in the last two years,the thing that's really been driving this number of people problem is data and anddata security. So GDP are, for example, more recently, is justintroduced a whole host of regulations that customers hey before, you will say,before we buy this system, now we need to understand how does it integratewith our ITT platform, whether it's I t driven or not? How doesyou know? Who owns the data? Does the Datas in the cloud?How is it secure? WHO's responsible? So there's lawyers involved, there's,course, procurement involved, there's in user communityisers, it departments, there's islike hurting cats and and so to think that somehow you could claw your wayinto a corner office and find that one senior decision makers willing to sign offon this and his or her own, even if they own the budget,is a pipe dream. Honestly, this is not going to happen today.It's just because that's not how customers buy. Do you think that part of tryingto make this extremely tactical? Of the numbers nine or five point fouror seven? Do you think part of the framework of trying to process tiesor operationalizes this is, Hey, you've only spoken, we only have contactwith for people and research shows at six to ten. So we have toscore the deal lower than we would if you had engagement with seven right people, even if we didn't confirm that all of the seven eight people were exactlythe right people that needed to chime in. I think at the very least,if you're talking to one or two people, that that deal should besuspect at best. Right so, because, because what will happen is that person, if you're talking to them, the reason you're talking to is becausethey because they're talking to you right, they're willing to have that conversation andthat they'll take the meeting and they'll share information and every conversation feels fantastic.But but unless they're willing to go fight the good fight inside their own organizationof hurting those cats and building that consensus, we've found that those conversations are havingwith that one individual can in fact...

...be symptomatic of well, well,nothing really, that of no progress whatsoever. We call those individuals who talk alot to you but don't actually aren't very good inside of driving change insidetheir own organization. We call them talkers and this is what the really thechallenge your custom book is all about as talkers versus what we call mobilizers,and we can come to back to mobilizers here in a second if you'd like. But the you know, the talker is a really tough stakeholder to encounteras a sales rep, because it feels so good right they'll they'll take themeeting, they'll take the next meeting, they'll dish the dirt, they'll sharewhat's going on, they'll they'll tell you who they think is involved. Butunless either you are able or they are willing to go to those other peopleand connect them and get them excited equally excited about that solution, nothing's goingto happen. And what we ultimately find, is particularly in our latest data,is that you, as a sales rep, have in decreasing amounts ofaccess to those other people, that customers are spending less and less time talkingto sales reps as part of a purchase, and so ultimately it becomes incredibly importantto find that. You know, we used to say find an advocatefor your solution, but what we are all only have to find is notso much an advocate for your solution but in a mobilizer for change, becauseat the end of the day, good, yeah, why don't you tell us? I mean the mobilizers. There's a couple key insights and obviously findingthe mobilizer and there's three types of mobilizer. So just walk us through. Firstof all, there's not one kind of mobilizer. Explain to us allthe different flavors of mobilizer. And then, I think the most, one ofthe most critical insights from the book for me was you're not connecting toall of these people. You are using mobilizer to connect themselves to each other, as you sort of alluded to, and the first part. So lookus through that construct. So a couple thoughts on this. So the thethe book opens up the challenge a customer and in chapter one this really intriguingand frankly, when we first saw a terrifying piece of data, which wasonly because it seems to run directly in a face of everything we'd found inthe past and everything that seems so logical, and that piece of data simply isthis that at a high level. The more effective you are personalizing yourpitch or positioning your value to each individual stakeholder in the customer organization, whathe or she cares about, the less likely you are to win what wecall a high quality sale. So the better and better you get it tailoringor positioning your offer to each one of those individual stakeholders and what they careabout as an individual, the less likely you are to win a high qualitysale. And that that made no sense to us when we first saw it, until we and when. So we reran the numbers about eight different timesand re rent and reworked although data. We couldn't make that finding go awayand and ultimately say I'm just cut to the end of the chase. ThatThe punch line of the story is. What we found is that it's notjust a numbers problem with again where there's five or six or ten or sixteen. What we really have inside the customer organization as a challenge is what Iwould call a diversity problem in this sense, in the sense that each one ofthose individual stakeholders represents a different function at different level, of different geography, a different set of priorities agenda inside their organizations. Some from procurement,someone from HR, someone from my tea, somewhet from the end user community,some from the Germany office, whatever it might be and is. Eachone of them has a different set of priorities of what they're trying to accomplishon behalf of their company. They just their mental models don't ultimately overlap verymuch. And so what happens when that group comes together to make a collectivedecision? What they find is that they tend to fall back on what theyagree on. We call this the lowest common denominator purchase, and that thelowest common denominator purchase more likely than not, as the things are going to agreeon. We things like let's study this more, let's avoid disruption,let's mitigate or or minimize risk, let's reduce cost. And so if you'reselling into this environment, what we're finding is that it's the more you personalizeyour pitch to each one of those stakeholders and the more they are already disconnected, you actually exacerbate that disconnect rather than overcome it. So so many ways. What we've got to figure out, and selling into this world of multiplepurchase stakeholders is not doing a better job of connecting those individual stakeholders to us, but doing a better job of connecting those individual stakeholders to each other.And so that that's part one. So how do we do that? Howdo we connect those individual who stakeholders to each other so they can coalesser ona much broader common vision than simply do...

...nothing? Study it more, payless, because the bad to be on the, you know, the receiving it ofthat kind of purchase process. And what we found is that in thatkind of world, what we're looking for is not someone who's senior or someonewho is a champion of your solution, but rather, and we can goback and unroll the methodology behind this, feed like to, but what wefound is that when we study, start performing sales reps and now some whatare the attributes that you're really looking for in a customer stakeholder? Low behold. They were looking for two things. They were looking for stakeholders that wereable to dry, I've change, and build consensus and and so, whichis a really interesting thing. Find No one, it would trained them todo this. By the way, these going to figure this out on theirown. So things like seniority, tidal decisionmaking, authority, budget ownership.None of that stuff turned out the matter to star our performers when we studythem. It was just these two things, the ability to drive change and andbuild consensus. So why build consensus? Well, for the very reason wejust talked about that. At the end of the day, if youcan't get that broader buying group, that diverse, that large buying group,to coalesce around a common vision that's greater than simply do nothing, no one'sbuying anything, certainly not at a at a high margin. So that's thebuilding consensus part, which totally makes sense. Drive change in the other end isespecially interesting because the reason why that pops is what we ultimately have cometo realize in all of our work is, at the end of the day,no matter what kind of company you are, no matter what you're sellingwas a product, whether it's a service, whether it's MED device consulting, manufacturing, tool and diet, doesn't matter. We all sell ultimately the same thing. What we ultimately sell Sam is we sell change. Every one ofus were trying to get our customers to change. Your behavior either stop buyingthat, start buying this, stopping from competition, start buying from us.Stop buying the small amount, start buying the big amount. Stop doing yourselfoutsourced us. In one way another, every one of us is trying toget our customers to change their bait at their behavior and that and I infact, I told our sales are see the other day. Look, youguys are in end the product selling. This is you're in the behavior changingbusiness, and that's how you need to think about it and that's how youget to solve for the today's biggest sales challenges. So, ultimately, whatwe're looking for is individuals inside the customer. We are going to Zation that wecan connect to, that are able to drive change, a build consensus. We have a name for those individuals. We ultimately call them mobilizers, becausethat's who they are. There, the mobilizers of action, that themobilizers of an idea. And what these mobilizers ultimately want, by the way, is is that they're not looking for a solution or a product or aservice or a supplier. What mobilizers are looking for is an idea, ininsight, something that's going to help their company compete more effectively. It's themirror image of the Challenger world. It's that same kernel of insight, whichis why we call mobilizers the or challenger customer, because of the Challenger insidethe customer organization. And and you're right, there's three flavors, or's what wecall a teacher, a go getter and a skeptic. Teacher is someonewho's is particularly open to big ideas and is good about motivating others around thosebig ideas. A go getter as someone is open to new ideas, butit's particularly good at project planning and making action happen around those ideas. Anda skeptic, by the way, the particularly interesting one to me is thatsomeone will actually, when presented with a new idea or new insight, willtear that thing apart piece by piece. And if you're not ready for that, if you're a traditional sales are up looking to build relationships, talk aboutwhere your kids went to college, that's going to feel really uncomfortable, becausethat's skeptics. I can take your idea, if you've delivered one at all,and pull it apart and look at it from every angle. And whatwe've come to appreciate in all their work, though, is that that's not abad thing. That's actually a good thing, because that's your customer justtrying to understand that idea and it's applicability in your in their organization. Andand although what we've what we found, is if you can win a skepticover, they become an incredibly powerful mobilizer, because they're not mobilizing for you,they're mobilizing for this idea, this insight that they've just become convinced iscould potentially have a powerful impact on their business. So so that's what thechallenge your customers all about. Is, who are these mobilizers? How doI find them? What is this insight that we call the insight that themobilizer dog whistle, right, it's a thing that only mobilizers can hear.So what does that you know? How do I build that insight? Thiswith a mental model. Stuff comes in. How do I deliver it a youname? So how let's see if we can, you know, geta few high level anecdotes before we encourage people to buy the book, whichis which is one of the things we...

...want them to do. How doyou find a mobilizer? What are the tests you can use or the youknow, what are the frameworks to help you identify a mobilizer within an organizationand also one't follow question. Yeah, if if you're in a sale cycleand you haven't found what you you use a test or using some framework andyou haven't found a mobilizer, I would assume that your advice is keep goinguntil you find one, maybe, unless is going to take you, youknow, months or even years. But yeah, I at the very leastI think whether or not you've connected to a mobilizer becomes a really interesting and, I think, effective opportunity qualification tool. Right or score. So to whatdegree is this person a mobilizer? So how do you find them?The our best take on how to find a mobilizer right now is through thatwhich a mobilizer result while looking for remember a mobilizers not looking for a supplier. A mobilizers looking for an idea, and that becomes a really important thingto understand, because if you approach a mobilizer with your value proposition or yourcapabilities or your solution, then ultimately is going to help very much because that'snot what they're looking for. What they're looking for is a story, notabout your company but about their company. And again we call this insight oreven more technically, commercial insight, because it's ideally insight you can that youcan monetize on the back end, so you're not just the free consulting business, and we go through a lot of that the book about how to figureall that out. But the an insight or a commercial insight, a monetizableinsight, is an insight that about the customers company or organization that helps themunderstand a risk that they're exposed to, that they've underappreciated, an opportunity they'veoverlooked that could help them make money ways they had appreciated in the past,a cost that they're exposed to, that that they didn't calculate effectively in thepast and in doing so and helping them understand that their current behavior is exposingthem to cost or risk, what you're the idea is that you were openingtheir mind to change. Remembers for all in the same business, Rar inthe business of selling change, the one thing you want to do is getyour customer to be open to changing their behavior, which is think about it, it's actually really hard because it's one thing your customer doesn't want to doat all costs, probably change right. It's it's nobody ever tell me aboutit. Right. So it's it's expensive, it's eruptive, it's hard, it'sunknown. There's a I don't want to change. So which, bythe way, is why selling solutions is so hard. Right, you putit together, it's like the one thing we're selling is one thing your customersdon't want to be buying, and I think that's why all this stuff isso is so darned difficult. Right. But what we found is is thatinsight is really an idea. In fact, friends at ATP dealer services, whichis a divisions been since been spun off from ATP and to its owncompany, but they developed a phrase for this as they adopt a challenge andorganization. They said, you know, if customers don't want to change,they want to stay the same, then what we need to do with ourinsight is teach our customers that the pain of same is greater than the painof change. That's really what commercial insight is all about, is teaching yourcustomers that the pain is same is actually greater than the pain of change.And and if you can approach your customer with a story like that, whichyou're looking for is how do they how does that individual that you're sharing thatstory with, whether, by the way, somebody touched on days am is,whether you're talking to them in person or you're approaching them with that storythrough digital channels, online, through content. But we can park that and comeback to some other time perhaps, but nonetheless, how does your customerreact to that story of change versus same? How do they react to that insight? Are they excited about it? Do they engage with it that theyask questions about it? To they tear it apart? That's a skeptic.That's good because you're looking for engagement, engagement on idea. If their reactionslike, Oh, this is really interesting, yeah, this really fine. Loveyou guys. You have smart things to say and nothing ever happens,that's probably a talker. And there's a third category we haven't mentioned yet,which is if they don't even engage with you. They they're just absolutely notinterested in talk to you whatsoever. You know, they're in year two ofa three year implementation plan or there and you know that's the I love thatone, by the way. Hear that a lot. We often refer tothat person as a blocker. A blocker is and by the way, blockerisn't blocking you. It's not like they don't like you. It's not personal. What a blocker is block is change, and so it becomes really interesting.So is this person open to change and clearly willing and able to driveit and build consensus around it, or...

...do they talk a good game butfrankly can't follow through? Or are they just against change all together? Sothe mobilizer, talker and blocker, and that becomes, I think, areally effective way to begin to think about whom I talking to in this opportunity. Because, again to your earlier question, say, I don't know they needto talk to all ten or seventeen people, but at the very leastyou need to find one who can go do that talking on, I guess, technically in your behalf, although it's really on behalf of the insight thatyou're sharing, and that's that's where the stuff gets really, really powerful.So, Brent, this has been amazing. So we're just about out of time, but the high level outline again is sort of identify, if we'rein a again a complex enter price sale, the challenge or customer teaches us finda mobilizer, arm them with commercial insight. But what are the stepsif we are just sort of taking notes at home and making a bullet alist that we can dive into with greater detail later? Well, I youknow, in some ways, just to hint it, where our work isright now is, so find the mobile so so build the insight. Stepone, deploy the insight, I supposed up to whether it's in person orthrough digital channels, and then watch four reactions. And so find the mobilizerand equip them with that insight. And then I think the thing that's reallyinteresting, and we only just touched on at the back of the book,as we're thinking really is now, is that just because someone wants to bea mobilizer, Sam where is open or willing or able to be mobilizer,doesn't necessarily mean they're going to know how to be a mobilizer. And whatwe've come to really appreciate is that particularly is by and continues to change andcontinues to change rapidly again, with regulations, GDP, are different stakeholders, data, the role of data, all these questions of customers have and theiroverwhelmed it too much information and you know in the Internet, from the Internettoday, that many times customers are just they just get stuck. Even amobilizer can get stuck. And what what customers really need more than anything else, honestly, and when it comes to buying something, is just help.They just need someone to kind of effectively take them by the hand and guidethem through the purchase process. So so if Challenger commercial insides all the teachingcustomers to think differently about their business. This where we're at right now.is now you got to teach your customers literally how to buy. Who shouldbe involved, because often times when a deal blows up, it blows upbecause someone inside the customer organization came out of the woodwork at the last minuteand blew everything up with a bunch of questions and the customers like, Oh, I didn't see that coming, and you're on the saleside say Oh,I totally saw that. Comings. Happened to me three times this year.And so that the idea here is we could actually take a much more proactiverole in coaching our customers through the purchase essentially taking them by the hand andbecoming the buying Serpa. So imagine not just finding a mobilizer, but becomingyour mobilizers buying coach by helping them understand things like, by the way,you probably want to get procurement involved, and when you want to get theminvolved as probably earlier than you thought. When you get them involved, area going to be here. They're going to these three questions and here's thehere's the best way to answer those three questions. Here's the two objections aregoing to have. Here how to overcome those objections. By the way,put all this together in a power point that freights already annotated, ready togo, and your mobilizers are going to say, wow, you just mademy life so much easier, and this poor work is right now, SAMis this idea that, in a world where we believe, and have ahuge amount of data to back it up, that be to be buying has becomeincredibly difficult, that one of the best things you could do is justfind ways to make buying easier. And that's what adds to the last step. There's IT's a design. Finding a mobilizer is coaching. That mobilizer makesa lot of sense. Brent, this has been fantastic. So obviously thefull title of the most recent book is the challenger Customer Selling to the hiddeninfluencer who can multiplier results. The link will be in the show notes.If folks want to reach out to you, engage with you or engage gardener insome way, what's the preferred mechanism for them to learn more about thechallenger customer in particular and potentially adopt it for their business? They can reachout to me personally. Probably the easiest thing to do is over linkedin.However, I'm also a Brent Dot Adams in a gartnercom where they can justgo to our website, gartnercom, and there you'll you'll of course, youwon't go right into the sales practice. You there's because gardener, of course, is a huge company with practices across every seat and around the board room. But one where another. I think we can get you where you needto go and there's just a huge amount...

...of help that we can provide companiesand thinking about all of this work and I think for me personally, what'smost interesting is what we continue to find now and all of the how thisresearch continues to update itself year after year, because the world keeps changing. Andso that's where joining or becoming part of the gardener sales practice becomes,I think, a really powerful thing to do. That sounds fantastic, Brent. Thanks so much for your time. I'm and thanks for appearing on theSALESACER podcast. Absolutely SAM is great to be with you today and I lookforward to doing it again soon. Everybody, it's Sam again, another great interview. Brent is so eloquent. He obviously is so passionate about the subject. If you haven't read the Challenger Sale, I think you should, and ifyou haven't read the Challenger customer and you're in B tob enterprise sales,I really think you should. They are too fantastic books and they helped codifythis this really important insight, which is that your job as a salesperson isnot to just show up and talk about the features, the speeds and thefeeds of your product. Your job is to understand the life and the mentalmodel of your customer and to help them change. And what you're selling ischange. You are not selling a specific product. What you're selling is theconcept of change, in the concept that the status quote is untenable and theonly way to fix the status quote is to change. That is a,I think, a critical insight from the challenger methodology. Also, just toreiterate, because so many people have talked about challenger sales without really reading thebook so that they think it means being an asshole. Just to be clear, it does not mean being an asshole. That's not the point of the ChallengerSale. It's not to be aggressive and rude. It's to bring commercialinsight into the conversation. Commercial insight is to teach somebody something about their businessthat they did not know beforehand, and and that is the concept of inthe Challenger Sale. They call it teach, Taylor, take control. The wholeconcept is teach them something about their business that they didn't know beforehand.And what you're looking for when you're involved in this kind of sale. You'renot looking for wow, you're so insightful or while you're a really good salesperson, that is usually the kiss of death. If somebody says that you're losing thedeal. What you're looking for them to say is, Huh, neverthought about it that way. When you present a new, unique commercial insightinto a sales conversation and you teach them something about their business and their industrythat they didn't know, you position yourself as a thought leader you position yourselfas expert and you help them understand why you should be credible when it comesto presenting the conversation in the right way. So this has been Sam's corner.Before we go, we want to thank our sponsors. Are Call Youradvanced call center software, complete business phone and contact center, one hundred percentnatively integrated into any crum and outreach, a customer engagement platform that helps efficientlyand effectively engage prospects to drive pipeline and close more deals. If you wantto reach out to me, you can find me on twitter at Sam fJacobs or on Linkedin at linkedincom. The word in Ie en slash Sam fJacobs, and a lots of folks have been reaching out to me. Pleasedo so. Please tell your friends about the podcast, please share some ofthe content and if you have great ideas for guests, please let us knowthat as well. I will talk to you next time.

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