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Negotiating Using the Challenger Sales Model

Is the Relationship Sale Still Relevant? 

There is a developing trend that indicates that the relationship sale is dying a slow death. The old path of using golf outings, dinner meetings, and ballgames to cultivate loyal customers seems to be falling to the wayside in a time of budget cuts and a move toward mass commoditization of once valued relationships, products, and services. Buyers are required to procure goods and services at the best possible balance of value, quality, and price regardless of who is selling it to them. SNI has always attracted the client who wanted to enhance the customer relationship by finding a mutually satisfactory process and outcome while maintaining the relationship to have another deal. This is where we align perfectly with the Challenger Sales Model – by adding tools and skills to maximize outcomes when using this modern approach to selling. 

 

The Challenger Sale (Dixon and Adamson, 2011) is a seminal book on a new(ish) and an interesting approach to changing customers’ buying decisions and habits. By teaching customers how to differentiate your product or service (helping them to conclude for themselves the value of your offer), tailor the message to resonate with buyer interests (commanding insightful attention to the offer) and then take control of the sale (close) by using assertive, probing questions, and recommendations and developing shared expectations, Dixon and Adamson flipped relationship selling on its head and sent a generation of salespeople on the road to drive results rather than activities. 

With access to over 6,000 Corporate Executive Board (known as CEB at the time, now Gartner) sales representatives who sold big-ticket services to medium/large businesses in a very down economy (2009), Dixon and Adamson studied the data and recognized the need to reinvent the sales model to reflect this new reality of complex, value-driven selling in order to survive and thrive in the B2B landscape. 

The Challenger Sales Model was a natural fit for SNI’s systematic approach of Negotiation (Prepare, Probe, Propose) and Influencing, and we were fortunate to be partnered with Corporate Executive Board for nearly a decade, including the gestational period in 2008 – 2011. 

SNI worked closely with the CEB on their customized Commercial Sales program for middle-market sales representatives. CEB selected SNI to develop skills in support of their sales model, which we did by molding our systematic approach to sales, negotiation and influencing the emerging Challenger model.

“Although our organization has implemented and maintains the Challenger sales methodology, which directs our sales professionals on “what” to do and “why”, we still need to ensure our sellers know “how” to do it and keep those basic skills refreshed. This is where SNI and The Power of Nice have been a great fit. As influencing and negotiation lives within the sales process and SNIs training have been a great complement to our ongoing Challenger sustainment.”

Aisha Wallace-Wyche

Diligent VP, Global Training and Enablement

The Challenger Sale identifies 5 types of salespeople, and the research found that the “Challenger” profile far and away outperformed the other types. SNI was asked to help teach skills that ANY of the 5 types could use to improve results while the Challenger Model was being developed. 

Here is a quick rundown on how the Challenger Sale and Challenger Model work together- that drive better outcomes while establishing and maintaining relationships for future deals. 

 

Teaching & Changing Buying Habits 

To change buying behavior, the Challenger Sales rep must prepare a plan of inquiry that helps the buyer to understand WHY it is important to consider a purchase now. 

SNI’s Preparation Planner was customized at CEB to incorporate the practice of researching and finding insights and leverage points around Precedents, Alternatives, Interests, and Deadlines as well as defining the differentiated value propositions that each of CEB’s myriad of services provides. Reps learned how to approach the sale more thoughtfully while strategically gathering information in an organized and meaningful way to help the buyer conclude, for themselves early in the sales cycle, that an offer is worth serious consideration. All preparation was focused on the monetization of value – helping the rep to tie the solution being pitched to its direct business impact on the potential client.

Instead of asking questions about the competition, pricing, budgets and buying processes, Challenger reps focus on asking prepared questions about interests, options, alternatives, and possibilities while making suggestions and seeking feedback. SNI’s preparation and probing model provided an effective framework for new and seasoned reps alike to rely on with a prospect or renewal opportunity in a complex B2B sale. 

 

Probing to Prioritize and Tailor Offers

SNI’s probing and scripting model was used as a “safe harbor” option for the mid-market reps who sold over the telephone. Even the best Challenger reps can be thrown off by an unexpected objection or challenge that was real or used to avoid making a faster buying decision. This is especially tricky over the phone where body language cannot be seen, and full attention is difficult to grasp and maintain. Ultimately, our techniques helped reps increase their success rate even in the face of toughest objections and distractions, both on the phone and in-person.

Prior to learning the Challenger Sale, SNI’s experience in financial services and banking focused on decreasing average handle time and minimizing losses, along with cross-selling.  In a Challenger Sale, SNI’s probing techniques and scripting process are put to a truer test. We believe time spent gathering information about interests and specific customer ‘pain’ has higher ROI than the traditional approach of connecting, proposing, persevere and try to make the final cut (with minimal discounting) to close the deal. 

Since then SNI has worked with a variety of clients who use the Challenger Methodology (e.g. Software, Technology, and Pharma Firms) and they have all found that SNI negotiation and influencing skills and tools enhance the Challenger Sale by teaching an efficient and effective preparation process, a model for probing for needs and interests beyond the traditional wants – benefit match, guidelines for making maximizing proposals, and scripting to fine-tune messaging. Aisha Wallace-Wyche, Vice President of Diligent added, “Although our organization has implemented and maintains the Challenger sales methodology, which directs our sales professionals on “what” to do and “why”, we still need to ensure our sellers know “how” to do it and keep those basic skills refreshed. This is where SNI and The Power of Nice have been a great fit. As influencing and negotiation lives within the sales process and SNIs training have been a great complement to our ongoing Challenger sustainment.” Our process also helps reps navigate the Challenger process without the inherent risks of being too aggressive or making undesirable choices such as lowering price or sacrificing value when things go sideways or stall. We help sales organizations protect the margin.

The SNI process prioritizes interests, allowing buyers and sellers to move past positions (e.g. “I need a better price” vs. “if this doesn’t go well it would be a disaster for me personally and our company”; “we need to start this project by the end of the week” vs. “we need this project to finish on time because…” ) to find creative solutions that define shared expectations for a variety of issues – price, conditions, service level agreements, timelines, deadlines and even basic communication commitments such as next steps and decision processes. Trust is enhanced, and influence is amplified. 

 

Taking Control and Maximizing Results at the Close

SNI and the Challenger Sale fit nicely together through the entire sales cycle. Buyers want less hassle, more certainty, reduced risk, and improved profits. SNI and the Challenger Sale meet at this intersection with simple yet highly effective habits (Prepare, Probe, and Propose) in a proven and relevant framework (Teach, Tailor, and Take Control). 

The final Challenger stage of Taking Control is guided by SNI’s guidelines for proposing. SNI and the Challenger Sale focus on always exchanging value while moving in your desired direction. It is a skill mastered by knowing when and how to make the proposal. 

At SNI, we have discovered that it is not ‘the final deal’ that satisfies the buyer, but rather how the ‘final deal’ is reached that provides a higher level of mutual satisfaction with the result. We deliver a variety of techniques and tools to help sales professionals find the right words and steps to take and maintain control of the close. 

 

Is the Relationship Sale Dead? 

All of this preparation, probing, and proposing in an effort to teach, tailor, and take control leads to a bit of an unexpected, but a desirable outcome. In a twist of ‘unconventional wisdom’, this authentic (yet planned, tailored, and scripted) approach tends to enhance the loyal customer relationship by building a foundation of mutual trust and respect as a partner. 

Loyal customers call on you when they need YOU. It develops into a true Trusted Advisor relationship. Maybe it’s an unexpected emergency purchase (“I need this right away! No time for procurement!”), some advice on an RFP (“Can you help me craft this?”) or simply a chance for you to meet and share some ideas. After producing results, which after all is a professional seller’s #1 job – these relationships are what make selling fun. 

If your organization uses the Challenger Sales model and you are looking to maximize your investment, or, if you are considering negotiation training, please reach out for more information. 

 




The Role of Indifference in Sales: How to Appear Neutral and Not Desperate

Indifference can be one of the most effective impulse factors to use in sales and negotiations. Because indifference is defined as having a lack of sympathy, interest, or concern, you might think it sounds wrong or contradictory that this should be an effective sales tool. But before you dismiss the idea of indifference in sales, let’s investigate it a little further and find out how to use it to our advantage.

 

Indifference in Sales

First, it is important to note the difference between using the concept of indifference in sales and negotiations over indifference in general. What it does not mean is indifference toward your job, the sale, or the other negotiating partner. Apathy toward your job or the sale is the kind of indifference that won’t get you very far, and can definitely hurt your sales. You absolutely should care about these things – and show it.

So, what do we mean? The kind of indifference we are talking about is the ability to appear even or stable in a meeting, and never look desperate for a sale. Desperation and erratic behaviors come off as begging and give power over to the other side. At the same time, acting indifferent toward the sale brings that power back to you.

This can be a powerful negotiating tactic. If you go into a negotiation unwilling to say, “No, thank you,” you will likely put yourself at a disadvantage. Being willing to walk away gives you a certain power in the negotiation process, and the other person will sense that. Your willingness to walk away may result in the other party willing to reopen the negotiations with you on more favorable terms. In addition, feeling and showing indifference toward a sale or business relationship means that if it doesn’t go your way, you can walk away with less disappointment and move on more easily.

 

How Indifference Works in Negotiation

Most people do not like to feel pushed around, especially when it comes to sales and negotiating. An overly pushy salesperson can cause others to shut down and walk away. A degree of indifference, when used in the right way, will make the other side feel more comfortable with you and less like they are being pushed into a sale or compromise that they don’t truly want. When you put the other person at ease in this way, they feel like they have choices, but at the same time, you have the ability to influence them more easily toward a decision.

 

Put Indifference Into Action

Here are some actionable steps you can take to put the concept of indifference to work for you in your negotiations and sales meetings:

1. Practice acting as though you are ok with any outcome. As a salesperson, this may feel counterintuitive at first, but keep practicing, and eventually it will feel more natural. Even if you don’t land the sale, or get the agreement that you wanted, practice being at peace with the outcome. Remember that what you practice eventually becomes your reality.

2. Keep a busy sales schedule. If you constantly have customers or business deals scheduled, and at various stages of the sales deal, you won’t be as desperate to close each one, knowing you have many more prospects available.

3. Honestly project your indifference to your prospects. Again, this does not mean you should be apathetic toward them. Project a genuine attitude and let them know that there are multiple outcomes, as well as what those outcomes are. Take the pressure off and let them know there is no consequence if it just doesn’t work out this time. There will always be future opportunities.

4. Exude confidence. Indifference also does not mean that you lack confidence. Be calm and self-assured, but don’t try to over-sell or over-convince. Show that you feel at peace with any outcome of the deal. Projecting a sense of calm indifference will not only make you more confident but will help the other party have more confidence in you.

With these tactics at your disposal, you’ll be using indifference the right way, and it should lead to greater success for you.

 

The Psychology of Indifference

While we’ve already mentioned that people don’t want to be pushed around, it’s also well known that people want what they can’t have. An overly pushy sales pitch is a turn-off because it is all too easy to just agree to the sale. People want something that’s harder to get. When indifference is used properly, you’ll make them want what you’re selling, even without the sales pitch.

If you are struggling or desperate for a sale, it shows, and this is a turn-off in customer and business relationships. Desperation will only push your customers away. When you remove the desperation from your face, your customers can see it. You’ll come off as more approachable and fun to be around, and eventually, you’ll be closing more sales with what feels like less effort.

The biggest takeaway from all of this is that you should make the customer feel like it is up to them to decide. Make them feel like they are in the driver’s seat, and they’ll be more likely to buy. This is a sales tactic that works, and you’ll be a more successful – and likable – salesperson when you can implement indifference correctly and effectively.

 

How Shapiro Negotiations Can Help

We have the knowledge and expertise to make you a better negotiator. Shapiro Negotiations has experienced speakers, as well as training programs for you or your staff. We can show you the concept of indifference in negotiations at work, as well as countless other tactics to bring you more successful sales.

 

How to Choose the Right Sales Training Program

A sales training program is crucially important to the success of your sales team. Every individual needs the right introduction into the sales environment. No matter how naturally talented a person is, he or she requires the polishing that comes from good instruction.

When it comes time to choose a sales training program for your team, be very careful and thorough with the process. This program is going to mold your team as well as provide them with continuing refreshers over the course of their careers. A mistake at this stage could prove highly detrimental to the success of your enterprise.

It is best to take a systematic approach. With a plan in hand for how you are going to approach the process, you will be able to find and even tailor the sales training program that is right for your industry and for your team’s needs. Here are some important factors to consider when choosing your program.

 

Preplanning

Before you start looking at sales training programs, you need to understand your own sales team. Some programs maybe great programs but they aren’t for every team in every environment. Look at yourself and evaluate where you are and where you want to be so you can be in the best position to evaluate the training programs you will choose from.

 

  • What are your team’s needs? Not every product is the same. Some approaches need to be different. Not every clientele is the same. What are the needs of your team? This is the core concept in determining which sales training program will work for you.

 

  • What areas do you want to focus on? Is there a specific weakness in your team? Do you feel you could spend a little less time going over things they already have mastered? A sales training program can cover a wide variety of topics. You need to decide the best way to apportion this time.

 

  • How long should the training be? More training can always help, but there comes a saturation point when it loses its benefit and the trainees start to get bored with it. What is the appropriate amount of time to spend on training?

 

  • What about continuing education? As time goes by, we forget more and more of the specifics of what we learned. It is always a good idea to give refresher courses, even to experienced veterans. What sort of continuing education goals do you have for your team?

 

Finding the Right Program

Once you know what your goal is for your sales team and know what you want out of a training program, you are ready to see what’s available. Some of the metrics, such as course length and follow up, are easy to gauge. There are, however, other considerations to make during the selection process. There are several considerations when determining how effective a sales training program will be for your specific sales team.

 

  • Consider location. Sales training can consist of in-person training as well as e-learning. Most will make use of both. Do you prefer more of one than the other?

 

  • What is their selling philosophy? No amount of tinkering with the program will solve the problem of differing philosophies when it comes to sales training. If your core philosophy is at odds with that of the training program, it’s not going to be a good fit.

 

  • Look at the sales management section. Your sales management needs to reinforce the principles taught in the training program for salesmen and women. The training program should have a component for sales management as well.

 

  • Do you need an assessment? If you already have an assessment process you trust, this probably won’t be necessary. However, you may want to investigate whether the training program provides assessments as well.

 

  • Does the program have all the desired formats? Some people learn better by reading; others by watching a video. Make sure the training comes in a variety of formats to reach every representative on your team.

 

  • What is the ratio of showing to doing? Some training programs are mostly show with only a little do. Most people learn better by doing, so be sure to check the ratio in any potential training program.

 

  • Can they tailor course content? No sales training program is worth it if they can’t modify their content according to your needs.

 

Other Considerations

When you find a program that you believe will serve your needs, you will need to ask a few more questions. There are some other aspects you should ask about to be sure you are getting the best version of the program that you can. You can further verify effectiveness or the appropriateness of the fit, or even improve the offer on the table. Here are some suggestions for what you should look at.

 

  • Get a sample of the curriculum. This is the best way to evaluate the quality of the program you are considering. Many programs can be discarded with this step.

 

  • Ask about return on investment. How does the sales training program measure results? Is this in accordance with your philosophy and goals?

 

  • Look at the client list. Different sales industries require different approaches. Look at the client list of a prospective program to see if they have experience working with sales teams in your specific field.

 

  • Ask for a money-back guarantee. If a sales training team makes claims about the quality of their product, they should back it up with a guarantee of some sort. If they don’t offer it, see if you can bargain for one. You will be investing a lot of time and money into a program and you need to make sure you see results.

 

When you know how to approach the process, you can confidently find the best program for your company. Though many sales programs seem to be made from the same cast, there are some that stand out. With these tools, you will be able to separate the imitators from the truly high-quality programs and make sure your team has all they need to be the most successful sales representatives possible.

 

What Sales Metrics Should I Measure?

To make the correct decisions that will increase sales and maximize profits, a sales leader must prioritize measuring sales metrics. The results of sales metrics can decide what move to take next and whether it will benefit your company. Continue reading to learn more about sales metrics, key performance indicators, and which metrics you should keep an eye on to maintain company progress.

 

What Are Sales Metrics?

Sales metrics are data representing the performance of individuals, teams, or entire companies. Sales leaders use sales metrics to keep track of numerous information pieces about the company, some of which include:

  • Tracking progress towards goals
  • Adjusting sales compensation
  • Awarding bonuses and incentives
  • Spot areas of concern before they grow worse
  • Preparing for the future

This list barely covers all the purposes that sales metrics have for the company.

 

What Are KPIs?

KPIs (key performance indicators) are often associated with sales metrics. However, not all metrics qualify as KPIs. A KPI usually reflects a major priority or goal, such as the sales percentage of a major product a company is trying to push out. KPIs measure performance, and tie into the core strategy of a company.

In terms of sales, KPIs vary between companies and between departments. No single set of KPIs exists that a leader must supervise. Factors such as structures, targets, products, and obstacles vary between teams.

 

Sales KPIs

KPIs are the sales metrics that are important for measuring the performance of the entire company. Some of these metrics include:

  • Customer Lifetime Value. The customer lifetime value (CLV), also known as the average lifetime value (LTV), shows you how much value a specific customer brings to the company over their lifetime. LTV is usually measured at regular intervals to track changes over time. This metric the multiplication of the annual revenue provided by the customer and the years of relationship, divided by CAC.
  • Sales Growth. The most potent of the sales metrics, sales growth determines the ability of the sales team to increase revenue over a fixed amount of time. Due to its direct tie to time and revenue, it is very important, and the fate of the company depends on its growth. A large enough drop can result in the company becoming absorbed by another one.

There are several other types of KPIs, such as:

  • Total revenue
  • Market penetration
  • New business revenue
  • Existing customers’ revenue
  • Business lost to competition
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • Territory revenue
  • Market revenue
  • Sales reps reaching 100% quota
  • Year-over-year growth

 

Sales Productivity Metrics

Sales productivity accounts for the rate at which a sales team hits revenue targets. The less time it takes to meet a quote, the higher the productivity is.

  • Time Spent Selling. This metric allows you to determine some of the largest time consumptions during your sale process. Lead generation is one of the biggest factors that results in lost rep time, since many reps struggle with finding leads that are interested in buying anything. Tracking the time spent will make it easier for you to determine the specific issues that are slowing down the process and resolve them.

Measuring productivity for sales reps also includes other factors (numbers), such as:

  • Calls made
  • Conversations
  • Emails sent
  • Scheduled meetings
  • Social media interactions
  • Demos and sales presentations
  • Sent proposals

 

Lead Generation Sales Metrics

These metrics measure how your sales team is prospecting.

  • Monthly New Leads. The number of leads each month measures the number of possible customers that are available in the pipeline. The leads depend on the chosen business model or the industry. Leads can either claim a free trial of your product, contact your sales team, or download a specific piece of content.
  • Average Lead Response Time. The longer it takes for your sales reps to respond to leads that show interest, the greater the chance of that sales opportunity slipping away. If a prospect is seeking a solution, and one of your reps takes 24 hours to respond, that prospect will reach out to another business. According to the Harvard Business Review, lead response time is important, as this study proves that a response time within one hour increases the rep’s chance to make a sale by seven, while it decreases by 60 if it takes 24 hours.
  • Customer Acquisition Cost. By tracking customer acquisition cost (CAC), you can understand the costs associated with business growth and expanding the customer base. This metric is particularly useful for startups attempting to demonstrate their values to their investors and to understand where to allocate your budget. To calculate CAC, you must add the money and time spent, then divide it by the customers acquired.

Other metrics (percentages) for lead generation include:

  • Dropped leads
  • Qualified leads
  • Followed-up leads
  • Followed-up leads in a time range

 

Sales Per Rep

Sometimes, to foster friendly competition, a leader will look at the sales per sales rep to see how each individual representative is performing. This metric also serves other purposes, such as making sure a rep did not chase unqualified leads to fill their pipelines, or how veteran reps may outperform newer team members.

 

Pipeline Sales Metrics

These metrics allow you to gauge the health of your sales pipeline. This information can help you understand what is working and what is not regarding the holistic sales process.

  • Sales Pipeline Coverage (SPC). This metric allows you to analyze the opportunities for your sales team on making a quota for a specific amount of time. The SPC ratio compares the capacity of the pipeline to the quota for an amount of time. Not every opportunity ends up as a sale, so it shows how many opportunities need to occur at any point.
  • Opportunity Win Rate. This metric measures the percentage of total sales opportunities that end up becoming customers. For example, 100 sale opportunities have 25 sales, which creates the rate of 25%. Calculating this metric allows you to set more attainable quotas for your team and create a more effective budget. This rate applies to both teams and individuals.

 

Other pipeline sales metrics include:
  • Average sales cycle
  • Average contract value (ACV)
  • Conversion rate by sales funnel stage (team and individual)
  • Total open opportunities by month and quarter (team and individual)
  • Total closed opportunities by month and quarter (team and individual)

 

Cannibalization Rate

Cannibalization rate refers to the impact the release of your new product has on the sales of the older products. While a company usually has a goal of releasing new, more advanced products into the market, competition between the company’s own offerings is not always beneficial. Cannibalization can make your older products obsolete and alienate part of your customer base.

 

Learn More About Sales

Learning how to measure sales metrics and how they affect your company is overwhelming for a novice, but with the right training, you can ease yourself into learning more about sales. SNI’s sales training program does not just teach “what to do” when it comes to sales, but also the “how-to.” The program takes a systematic approach to increase the effectiveness of salespeople. We even measure your progress through several metrics systems, such as key performance indicators. Sign up today.