Matt-DixonIt was a pleasure to hear Matthew Dixon, co-author of The Challenger Sale, speak earlier this week at the InsideView Insider Summit in San Francisco. He’s a high-energy, fast-paced speaker who goes far beyond just reiterating the key points of his seminal book.

In addition to highlights of his ongoing research of sales organizations worldwide, he focused on a few new ideas and trends I wanted to highlight here.

ROI vs. ROPE calculators
Most of us have some form of a return-on-investment (ROI) calculator in the sales toolbox. But Matthew challenged the crowd to think instead about developing a ROPE calculator, which stands for Return on Pain Eliminated. Subtle different but important. Positive return is important, but eliminating pain and waste in the organization can often be a more urgent problem to solve, and deliver bottom-line profit & margin performance more directly & quickly.

IQ vs EQ
Matthew talked about the difference between “book smarts” and “street smarts” and how that relates directly to which sales reps are both naturally good at the Challenger Sale, as well as those that can more quickly trained to execute and master it. From his perspective, emotional intelligence is far preferable, especially when you’re looking to hire and train new reps into a more diagnostic, teach-centric sales model.

The value of constructive tension
I’ve talked and written in the past about aligning your sales process with the buyer’s journey, and how important that is to reducing the friction inherent in most sales processes to help the prospect buy. But Matthew wants more companies to increase the level of tension sales teams create, specifically related to challenging their status quo and forcing them to rethink whether what they’re doing currently is producing the best, most efficient results possible.

Relationship sellers, in his view, focus on reducing constructive tension and therefore end up decreasing the sense of urgency to move forward with a change or purchase. Challenger sellers increase that tension but do it in a way that introduces and reinforces the value for the buyer in alleviating that tension for the good of the organization. Big and important difference.