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Challenger Sales Reps: The Attributes Needed to Perform Like a Challenger

If you’re a sales rep, there’s a good chance that you’ve been told to read The Challenger Sale. The now-classic business book breaks down the five different types of sales reps and teaches readers to emulate high-performing reps known as “Challengers.” At its core, Challengers drive sales for complex, business-to-business solutions through the following practices:

  • Teaching prospects about their situations.
  • Tailoring communication to suit specific prospects.
  • Taking control of a sale.

One of our partners, Barbara Schwartz with ROI Selling, wrote a post exploring the attributes of Challengers and how they help sales reps be successful. Let’s revisit her findings to learn how to make every sales rep a Challenger.

What Does it Mean for a Sales Rep to be a Challenger?

In short, Challengers have success. The Challenger Sale is based on one of the largest studies ever conducted in the sales field. Authors Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon, and their colleagues at CEB Inc studied thousands of sales reps across multiple industries and geographies to identify the different types of sales reps and which one had the most success. Ultimately, The Challenger Sale identifies five types of sales reps.

  • The Challenger
  • The Hard Worker
  • The Lone Wolf
  • The Relationship Builder
  • The Problem Solver

Each of these five has distinct qualities that make them good sales reps, but The Challenger definitively stood above the rest. According to Schwartz, “almost 40% of star performers fall into the Challenger category, as do 23% of core performers.” Given that Schwartz defines star performers and reps in the top 20% and theorizes that core performers achieve at least 80% of quota or better, that’s a great target for sales reps.

What are the Attributes of a Challenger?

Knowing that Challengers are statistically more likely to have success, it’s important to know exactly why that is. The Challenger Sale identified six significant attributes that help make someone a Challenger.

  1. Offer the customer unique perspectives. – Help companies benchmark themselves against the competition. Use assessments and other tools to show prospects where they stand and get a new perspective on how you can help them.
  2. Have strong two-way communication skills. – Information is essential. It’s essential to ask the right questions and listen to those answers in order to build a strong business case and deliver quantifiable results.
  3. Know the individual customer's value drivers. – What you sell needs to align with a prospect’s value drivers. Be honest if your solution isn’t currently a good fit. That level of honesty will only increase the odds that prospect will come back to you when the time is right.
  4. Identify economic drivers of the customer's business. – A prospect’s individual value drivers can help you determine how your solution addresses their economic drivers. Connect the two values so that you can present how your solution addresses these business challenges.
  5. Be comfortable discussing money. – Let’s face it, you can’t avoid talking about money when it comes to sales. These conversations don’t have to be uncomfortable. Lead with the potential value of your solution to build confidence and make prospects more comfortable when you present your solution.
  6. Apply pressure (but don’t bully) the customer. – You want to both build a relationship while still being firm with prospects. Don’t be afraid to press them on important topics and present hard numbers and facts to support your cause.

How Sales Reps Can Turn Themselves into Challengers

According to Schwartz, most reps have varying levels of all the Challenger attributes identified. The true Challengers are able to combine those skills to improve sales success. Of course, it’s important to note that Challengers are not born, they’re made.

The right training and coaching can help sales reps embrace these key principles and develop their skills across the board. Sales reps can also benefit from different tools to help them maximize their Challenger attributes. For example, the best software for sales reps can help them build strong business cases and enjoy success.

How Does TrulinX Help Sales Reps Become Challengers?

Simply put, time is money. It is important for sales reps to not only build their sales cases, but also become more efficient as well. Tribute’s TrulinX business management platform gives sales reps in the industrial distribution industry the tools they need to improve the ability to serve their customers.

TrulinX is a specialized software that provides value-added and system integration services for industrial distributors and fabricators of fluid power, motion control, fluid handling, hose & accessory, instrumentation & process control, and pump products. Our software allows sales reps to save time and provide more competitive offers for customers thanks to a variety of key features.

  • Streamlined Quoting Process – TrulinX simplifies the quoting process with a pre-defined BOM and the ability to check pricing and availability in real time.
  • Order Entry – TrulinX gives users the ability to create templates with specific instructions for every assembly, as well as attach specs, photos, and CAD drawings directly to part numbers.
  • Purchase Processing – TrulinX provides automated purchase order processing that allows you to archive documents, capture incoming purchase order data, and store key files such as product images, POs, packing lists, technical specifications, and spreadsheets.
  • Follow-Up Reminders – TrulinX sets up reminders to follow-up with customers and create more opportunities to obtain quotes.
  • Improved Customer Service – TrulinX helps users track and tag lost sales for evaluation and make personal notes on accounts for future reference.

Ready to maximize your Challenger attributes with specialized business management software? To learn more about the TrulinX software or to speak with one of our team members, give us a call today at 800-874-2883 or contact us directly.



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