Philip Squire

Tactful Audacity & The Challenger Sale

Philip Squire / 14 January 2013

Do we now need to consider a paradigm shift in the way we in the sales industry think about selling?

A new research study and the subsequent book, 'The Challenger Sale' has recently been making waves in the field of sales. Its findings further fuelled the suggestion that a major shift in perceptions is required for "what good looks likes like in terms of selling effectiveness".

This is a far cry from the traditional focus of addressing productivity of sales forces through a 'competency' and 'process based' perspectives, which even after large scale investment often yields little or no long-term affects on a customer's perspectives of how good or poor sales people are at selling.

This vision for change in the way we think about selling is not new to Consalia. The findings of the Sales Excellence Council's recent (SEC) study are very similar to those made by Consalia during its' own doctoral research study (2008).

Of the C-level execs interviewed from Fortune 500 type companies, 80% expressed that less than 10% of sales people sell to clients in a way that meets or exceeds their expectations. The conclusions of the research were that customers looked for certain critical values in sales people, identified as: Authenticity, Client Centricity, Proactive Creativity™ and Tactful Audacity™. Only Top Performing sales people were seen to live the values of Proactive Creativity™ and Tactful Audacity™. By contrast the values customers frequently observed were Manipulation, Supplier Centricity, Complacency and Arrogance.

Interestingly the conclusions from SEC were that sales people fall into 5 types: The Hard Worker, The Challenger, The Relationship Builder, The Lone Wolf, and The Reactive Problem Solver. Of this, their dramatic finding was that 39% of 'Star Performers' fell into the Challenger Type, where as only 7% of the star performers fell into the Relationship Builder Type.

Similarly SEC came to the conclusion that traditional approaches to sales development do not work. They claim that Solution Selling is dead and the traditional focus on techniques such as Spin selling is less relevant today. SEC has come to the same conclusion that we have, that focusing on needs based selling 'no longer warrants the massive training investments poured into improving reps discovery skills'. Like us they conclude that few of a company's sales teams actually fall into the Challenger (or Tactful Audacity™) Mode.

The implications of such corroborating evidence are profound in that it strongly indicates that a change in needed in the way that companies should go about the recruitment and education of their sales teams.

Too few sales people meet the expectations of the people they sell to. We need to accept there is an acute problem in the way that sales people sell to customers. It is clear that there is an inflexion point happening in the world of sales - as the Harvard Business Review's recent Nietzsche's inspired title, 'Solution Selling is Dead' infers. Both organisations reached very similar conclusions on the why? Those involved in sales and in the education of sales professionals should accept a new paradigm is now emerging. The evidence is all too clear.

Time will tell whether these converging research initiatives have indeed created a paradigm shift.

Take a look at the article for more information on this topic:

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