Adamson, B., Dixon, M., Spenner, P., Toman, N. (2015). The Challenger Customer: Selling to the Hidden Influencer Who Can Multiply Your Results. New York: Portfolio/Penguin
This sales savvy book was recommended to me by a highly knowledgeable business consultant. While I am not on the ground selling B2B, my customers are the sales executives that are in this role and their leadership. This book serves as a way to systematically attack the inevitable challenges that arise in modern selling.
Right from the beginning, data (not emotions) are used to highlight the challenges sellers face. One eye-opening message that serves as a starting point of the various tactical discussions is that, “an average of 5.4 different people (are) formally involved in a typical buying decision”(Adamson, Dixon, Spenner & Toman, 2015, p.7). With a wide swath of stakeholders, its not just a matter of being chummy with the “suit” in the corner office. Modern B2B selling is a challenge in that the customer is much more diverse in their objectives and must be addressed to make headway.
A particular area of the book I enjoyed reading as someone who is usually spearheading innovation and facing usually some level of inevitable pushback is how to deal with the “blockers”. Blockers are the folks that will try to block the sales deal. There can be a variety of reasons for this. The book encourages engagement vs. ignoring this segment of the business. As an example for working with the blocker who likes the status quo, it is recommended that they receive empathy and their concerns are heard (Adamson, Dixon, Spenner & Toman, 2015, p.237). While this is in the context of closing a B2B sales deal, this is relevant to those off us introducing new processes and technology within our own organizations.
The only criticism of this book I would have is most of the info-graphics appear to be broad in nature. This is not a book someone should pick up and assume it will offer a complete roadmap. There are just a few select areas that serve this purpose, such as the the Road Map’s for different buyer types starting on page 150 and the final Sales Process infographic on page 250. If the reader is entrenched in current processes, this book may not help them escape this. The book puts the responsibility on the reader to use most of the information provided as a catalyst to brainstorm on how it can be applied to their own organization.
Overall, I highly recommended reading this book if you are in Sales, or for anyone in a position of leadership or support to help their B2B business grow. Do not expect a magic bullet. But, expect the beginning of a dialogue to overcome the challenge of the sale.