By Lauren Dichter, Marketing Consultant at Heinz Marketing

Did you know that B2B selling is at its most complex right now? If you’re a seasoned professional, you’ve probably noticed the changing scene already. But for those sales professionals who are struggling and aren’t sure why, it could be because making a B2B sale today requires more consensus among buying committee members, which means decision cycles take longer than anticipated. In fact…

  • 84% of customers report a buying journey taking longer than expected
  • The actual buying journey length is 1.98x the expected length
  • The number of stakeholders involved in a complex B2B decision is 6-10
  • The likelihood of closing a high-quality sale with more stakeholders is 60% (lower than ever before)

Luckily, understanding these changes is the first step to getting over an unwelcome sales slump. This evolution in B2B selling dynamics is best-approached head-on.

And how do you approach something head-on? By challenging it.

The Basics of The Challenger Sale

Using the Challenger Sale doesn’t mean instilling fear in the prospect. The Challenger Sale is so successful because, when implemented correctly, all content, messaging, and headlines…

  1. challenge the prospect’s thinking
  2. provide them with unique insights
  3. enable them to navigate unseen pitfalls

Also, popular opinion states that The Challenger Sale method is most pivotal when used at the top of the sales funnel, since that’s when the prospect doesn’t yet realize they may have a problem.

In general, a ‘Big Idea’ guides this method of B2B selling. Like a splash of cold water to the face, it should shift the prospect’s perspective and make them think differently about how they operate. With this sales style, you’re selling insights, not solutions.

It should also message in a way that focuses on the prospect’s unrecognized needs rather than unmet ones. An example of a ‘Big Idea’ statement is “Why have CEOs been left in the dark about X?”, referring to insights that CEOs haven’t realized they aren’t privy to but probably should be.

5 Key Strategies for Challenger Messaging

  1. Challenge the industry’s assumption that its problem is simply ‘the cost of doing business.’
    • Example: “How many millions of dollars are you losing because of X?”
  2. Identify the impact you’ve had on your best clients by highlighting the positive outcomes they’ve seen through working with your company. This should give your prospects the opportunity to assess their current situations.
    • Example: “Most companies using X and Y are losing 40% of their impact because of ineffective Z”
  3. Take on a piece of common wisdom; challenge an idea that’s so ingrained that people just believe it’s true without any hard evidence.
    • Example: “Can we really say solution selling is the best B2B sales technique when it only works for some products and services?”
  4. Choose an enemy. Messaging should be around defeating said enemy, but it’s important to understand that this ‘enemy’ could simply be the status quo.
    • Example: “Why are we treating people when they become sick instead of preventing them from getting sick in the first place? The current healthcare system is actually a sick-care system, and it’s failing us all.”
  5. Make an outright challenge. Call on the prospect to do more, do better, and do more efficiently. Show them there’s a better way.

Why Use The Challenger Sale?

When used effectively, it leads to higher customer loyalty and improved revenue performance. Just ask this global powerhouse of a company! SAP saw stunning results after using The Challenger Sale method.

In just 3 years, sales revenue increased by 27%, deals closed increased by 26%, the time it took for deals to close shrunk by 25%, and deals grew by 600%. The verdict is clear: prospects respond well to sales reps who communicate business insights that are specifically valuable to the business challenges prospects are experiencing.

How can you challenge your prospect to think differently? Which of the 5 key strategies of challenger messaging could you see your company’s sales reps adopting? Let’s keep the conversation going—comment below!