Original vs. influential: “Old” ideas marketed better still win


I had a handful of responses to my Challenger Marketer post two days ago, particularly questioning how I could consider the book The Challenger Sale as one of the most influential sales books in the last five years.

Most of those responses pointed out that the tenets of The Challenger Sale weren’t necessarily unique, that several authors had presented similar findings as recently as two years prior to the book’s release, and as far back as Dale Carnegie’s work around How To Win Friends & Influence People.

I would agree that the concept of selling in a challenging, teaching, customer-centric way isn’t necessarily new.  It’s been recommended, taught and reinforced for years and years.

But old ideas often need refreshing.  They need repackaging for a new audience.  And just because an idea isn’t new, doesn’t mean a great marketing effort can’t exponentially increase the repackaged idea’s reach & influence.

Detractors of Challenger sometimes claim its success is due to extensive marketing.  But that’s the point, isn’t it?  Great ideas that never see the light of day rarely have the impact they deserve.  Conversely, great marketing can’t save a bad product or idea from failing to take root.

But great marketing with a great idea works almost every time.

Stealing intellectual property is still wrong.  Positioning someone else’s work as your own is a crime.  But the idea of customer-centric selling (in a wide variety of approaches and formats) is worth reiterating in a new way from time to time.  And if The Challenger Sale raised the prominence and reach of the conversation around selling in a value-added, buyer-centric way, I’d say it was successful and influential at minimum for that reason.

I realize this is a controversial topic in some circles.  Curious to hear your perspective on this as well in the comments below.