The gist of the book is as follows:
#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 give this book 5 stars for the quality of the content. 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.
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.”
- 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.
- Leverage (online) diagnostics and pain (not ROI) calculators
- 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
- Enable Mobilizers by providing THEM with sales tools, workshops, proof points, stories, etc.
- 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.
- Identify and convert Blockers, especially by leveraging supportive buyer stakeholders
- 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.