Can you provoke a sale?
24th September 2017 | Deirdre Coleman
Is challenging a customer’s preconceptions through disruptive selling still a valid strategy? We ask three sales experts for their views.
Provoking, challenging, being provocative – to me, it’s just semantics. The most important thing about selling is the buyer, not the seller. It’s wrong to assume that challenging is basically teaching the customer what their business is about. The correct way to challenge is to add value
The sales academic
Harvard Business School professor
“Provoking, challenging, being provocative – to me, it’s just semantics. The most important thing about selling is the buyer, not the seller. It’s wrong to assume that challenging is basically teaching the customer what their business is about. The correct way to challenge is to add value by bringing insights to the customer but you have got to understand the customer and their business or as the old saying goes, you are putting forward your particular solution in search of a problem. The way to frame this is not what’s the right way to challenge a customer but what’s the right way to understand what is going on with the customer.
“As a sales methodology, the Challenger approach encouraged some salespeople and organisations to challenge before they fully understood the customer’s business problems. One of the adages in sales in the US is this: “Win an argument; lose a sale.”
To me, it comes down to being a listening exercise more than a teaching exercise – listening and analysis, and having salespeople who are capable of providing the business acumen that in many B2B selling situations is vital. One of the things that is systematically underestimated is that it really helps to know what you are talking about: product knowledge, customer knowledge and industry knowledge are vitally important especially in B2B selling.
“You have to demonstrate the value that you bring and back it up with figures. The real issue is not the salesperson as a confident challenger. It’s about getting closer to the buyer and demonstrating an increase in their potential revenue – and having the financial literacy to back that up.”
Dr Frank Cespedes is author of “Aligning Strategy and Sales”.