- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Penguin; Latest edition (25 October 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0241196566
- ISBN-13: 978-0241196564
- Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2 x 23.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #97,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Th E Challenger Customer: Selling to the Hidden Influencer Who Can Multiply your Results Paperback – 25 Oct 2015
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About the Author
Brent Adamson is a managing director in the Sales and Marketing Practice of CEB. He is a coauthor of The Challenger Sale and a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review. Matthew Dixon is executive director of the Financial Services and Customer Contact Practices of CEB. He is a coauthor of both The Challenger Sale and The Effortless Experience and is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review. Pat Spenner is a managing director in the Sales and Marketing Practice of CEB. He is a frequent contributor to Forbes and the Harvard Business Review. Nick Toman is a managing director in the Sales and Marketing Practice of CEB. He is a coauthor of The Effortless Experience and is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review. CEB is the leading member-based advisory company. By combining the best practices of thousands of member companies with its advanced research methodologies and human capital analytics, CEB equips senior leaders and their teams with insight and actionable solutions to transform operations.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
#1 Challenge buyers by showing them their status quo is not good enough and is cutting into profit, wasting effort, and/or increasing risk.
#2 Partner with and enable "Mobilizers" inside the buying organization to drive consensus around the problem, the solution, and vendor selection.
Like The Challenger Seller, I gave this book 5 stars for the quality of the overall insights. Of the two books, this one is better (and is inclusive of the content in its predecessor). Also, like The Challenger Seller, this one suffers from a LOT of redundancy and out of order content - a natural consequence of having too many authors without painstakingly meticulous editing. Unlike The Challenger Seller, the Challenger Customer does a much better job of justifying conclusions & recommendations by providing references to studies with decent sample sizes.
Here is a more detailed summary:
Closing a complex deal requires collective consensus from, on average, 5.4 decision makers as they march through the three main stages of the buying cycle: (1) problem definition (2) supplier-independent solution identification (3) supplier selection.
“On average, customers are 57 percent of the way through a typical purchase process prior to proactively reaching out to a supplier’s sales rep for their direct input on whatever it is that they’re doing.”
a. Challenge customers’ beliefs with a new and compelling insight to make money, save time, or lower risk. This insight must provide a compelling reason to take action now by explicitly laying out why the customer’s current behavior is not “good enough” and is costing them time or money in ways they never realized.
b. Leverage (online) diagnostics and pain (not ROI) calculators
c. Partner with buyer stakeholders, called “Mobilizers,” who are able to (i) drive change and (ii) build consensus. Mobilizers can be identified because they do all of the following: (i) ask challenging, thought providing questions rather than just listening & agreeing, (ii) focus on the greater good of the organization rather than their personal goals, and (iii) agree to take on research or tasks
d. Enable Mobilizers by providing THEM with sales tools, workshops, proof points, stories, etc.
e. Find the strategic overlap between the each stakeholder’s goals and then facilitate/build convergence to get to a collective yes around a single, overarching business goal/vision.
f. Identify and convert Blockers, especially by leveraging supportive buyer stakeholders
g. Align the stages of the buying process with verifiers / buying signals. These are expected actions the customer must take. Examples include: commits to analysis, commits to seller demo, & states we are the preferred vendor.
OK, first off - if you’re familiar with the bestselling book “The Challenger Sale,” “The Challenger Customer” is from the same authors at CEB.
You may know CEB as the organization that determined in B2B sales, the customer is at least 57% through their buyer’s journey before they first reach out to the seller.
Like The Challenger Sale, The Challenger Customer takes on and refutes a lot of conventional wisdom about what works and what doesn’t work in modern B2B marketing and sales. But here’s the catch - it’s not just the author's’ opinions. They challenge the conventional wisdom with extensive research done over the last five years.
It turns out only a very specific type of customer stakeholder has the credibility, persuasive skill, and will to effectively challenge their colleagues to pursue anything more ambitious than the status quo. These Challenger customers get deals to the finish line far more often than friendlier stakeholders who seem so receptive at first. In other words, Challenger sellers do best when they target Challenger customers.
I work in the field of B2B marketing and sales, and the conclusions in this book had me thinking (and rethinking) all the best practices in that field.
In one sense, I wish I hadn’t read the book. But I’m glad I did.
And, to listen to an interview with Pat Spenner about “The Challenger Customer,” visit MarketingBookPodcast.com.
Their main premise is that there are an average of 5.4 people involved in business purchase decisions at a company, and they go in depth on how to connect and manage the key influencer, the Mobilizer on the customer side, who is not always the senior-ranking decision maker. They further refine the Mobilizer into three sub-types: the Go-Getter, the Teacher, and the Skeptic and instruct on how to appeal and persuade each of them.
Some of the novel and original ideas include: the mobilizer and how they are different from the general evangelist, unteaching is their word for disrupting and re-educating, they revisit commercial insight from the Challenger Sale, and drill down on consensus creation with their idea of collective learning.
What I like best is that as you read the book, you start to imagine sales and marketing working more closely together to deliver the commercial insights and collective learning, and then in chapter 6, they go deep on what marketing must do with content marketing to make it work for your company.
They don't use the generic approach of integrated marketing, but rather a challenger marketing model of a Spark-Introduce-Confront content path to frame break and rebuild. Spark is surprise or disrupt. Introduce is where you position the new idea, and Confront is frame-breaking information in terms contextually relevant to the Mobilizer buyer.
This is the best business book I have read in at least 2 years.