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The Challenger Sales Model: Understand this Sales Methodology

Much like Spin Selling, the Challenger Sale book is one that should be on every sales reps books, shelf (and hopefully read!).

The Challenger Sales model was written by Brent Adamson and Matthew Dixon and is based on the one of the most thorough sales studies done in the area of sales process.

This pos will run through some of the key points when it comes to the challenger sales model and will also explain how you can apply them immediately to your sales process.

The Challenger Sales Model Explained

The Challenger Sales Model help sales reps to copy some of the traits of the highest-performing sales reps when running their sales process.

Key traits of high performing sales reps include specific communication methods for prospects and taking the lead when running the prospect through the sales process.

A Challenger sales rep takes control of and takes ownership of the conversation and won’t be afraid to ask challenging questions when taking a prospect through the sales process.

The Challenger sales model encourages asking hard questions!

5 Sales Rep Personas

In addition to the Challenger sales rep, four other types of sales professionals can be seen as unique to each individual sales rep.

The challenger model encourages sales reps to be a combination of these four roles and not just stay within one personality.

The Challenger

The Challenger sales rep doesn’t talk much and prefers to ask questions that get prospects thinking.

The Challenger sales rep will take the lead in conversations and also be willing to challenge the prospect on their answers. They have the ability to use tact to get the prospect to see how their solution could help them.

The Challenger sales rep takes advantage of the three t’s which are

  • Teach them something of value
  • Tailor the sales pitch to their needs
  • Take control over the conversation

The Hard Worker

The Hard Worker sales rep is similar to the Challenger, but instead of taking control of the conversation they will put in the extra effort and research to get to know their prospect better.

The Hard Worker will ask more questions, dig deeper into the customer’s needs and problems until they have a full understanding of their prospects before moving them to the next step in the sales process.

The Lone Wolf

The Lone Wolf sales rep is independent, confident and competitive.

They take ownership of the sales process and are very diligent in staying on top of every detail, from managing their pipeline to setting up follow-ups with prospects.

The Lone Wolf has the ability to close deals quickly and efficiently, as they are always in control of the conversation.

The Relationship Builder

The Relationship Builder sales rep is more interested in building relationships than closing deals.

They take the time to get to know their prospects, understand their problems and build trust with them.

The Relationship Builder sales rep will use this trust to move the prospect through the sales process and will quickly close deals when the trust and relationship is in place.

The Problem Solver

The problem solver in the challenger sales model focus on finding solutions to the customer’s problems.

They are diligent in digging deep into their customer’s needs and will find custom solutions that not only fit their customer’s needs, but will also help to close the deal.

The problem solver is a great asset for any sales team as they can navigate complex sales processes.

A Summary of The Challenger Sales Model

The challenger sales model understood that sales reps generally fall into five distinct personas. They are:

– The Challenger

– The Hard Worker

– The Lone Wolf

– The Relationship Builder

– The Problem Solver.

These distinct profiles give us an idea as to how someone in a sales team will interact within a b2b sales process.

Of all the challenger sales methodology profiles the challenger is the persona that was most linked to star performers within sales teams ie the take control and lead the sales conversation.

According to author Brent Adamson, Challenger selling is the most effective. Consider the following stats from the book:

  • 40% of high sales performers primarily used a Challenger style.
  • High performers were more than 2x likely to use a Challenger approach than any other approach.
  • More than 50% of all star performers fit the challenger profile in complex sales.
  • Only 7% of top performers took a relationship-building approach — the worst-performing profile.

The last point is interesting as it challengers the fact the good sales reps should be relationship builders.

This isn’t necessarily the case.

In saying that, with the right sales training, all of the above personalities can adopt the challenger approach and learn to take control of the sale.

The key term here is sales training, it might take considerable effort to get your sales reps performing at the challenger level, but for sales leaders, it will be worth it.

Training Ideas for the Challenger Sales Model

When using the challenger sales methodology to train sales reps, it’s essential to understand that every sales rep is different and results will most definitely vary – some reps won’t be comfortable with this sales training method.

Challenger Sales Pros and Cons

I’d say, generally there are more pros than cons when it comes to the challenger sales model, but there are also some cons that need to be considered when adopting your b2b sales method to this model.


  • Offers a fresh approach that lets customers start thinking outside their own thought process.
  • Gives the challenger sales rep a good understanding of customer values
  • Can help reps identify the drivers that will help customers make good business decisions and alleviate pain points


  • It can be difficult to build relationships with customers when challenging their ideas
  • The model does not work well in all industries
  • Not every sales rep is able to adopt the challenger style and could struggle with its implementation

Business Benefits of Challenger Sales

The challenger sales model is a great solution to use for complex sales cycles.

It helps to increase sales reps’ confidence and gives them the tools they need to take control of the sale.

In addition, it can help to build trust with customers faster, allowing for more efficient sales cycles.

Finally, this model allows for a better understanding of customer needs, leading to more tailored solutions and higher-value deals.

How to Implement the Challenger Sales Methodology

When implementing the challenger sales model, it is important to ensure that all team members are on board and understand the training.

It is also important to have an effective system in place to track customer interactions and feedback from reps.

Sales leaders should also be sure to provide ongoing coaching and support throughout the implementation process. This not only ensures that reps are comfortable with the model but also that they are using it correctly and effectively.

Finally, sales leaders should be sure to maintain good communication between all team members throughout the process as well as review data regularly to assess performance and ensure goals are being met.

Overall, the challenger sales model is a great solution for businesses that are looking to take their B2B sales process to the next level. It helps reps to be more confident in their skills and provides them with better tools to close deals faster. With the right training and strategy, this approach can help any team to increase its performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the three T’s in the challenger sale?

The three T’s in the challenger sale are taught, tailor and take control. It is a sales methodology that focuses on teaching buyers new insights, tailoring products to fit the buyer’s specific needs, and taking control of conversations through debate and dialogue.

What is a Challenger Profile?

A Challenger Profile is an assessment tool created to measure how well sales reps follow the Challenger Sale model. It looks at areas such as teaching customers, tailoring solutions, and taking control of conversations.

What are the benefits of the Challenger Sales Model?

The benefits of the challenger sales model include increasing confidence in sales reps, building trust with customers faster, understanding customer needs, and creating tailored solutions. It also helps to create better deals with higher value.

What are sales methodologies?

Sales methodologies are comprehensive frameworks that help sales teams to be more successful. They provide a systematic approach that can be used to identify areas of improvement and ensure goals are met. Common sales methodologies include the Challenger Sale, Solution Selling, and SPIN Selling.

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