7 Challenger Sale Training Exercises for Sales Reps

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "The Challenger Sale" by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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Are you looking to improve your sales skills? What are some Challenger Sale training exercises? How can they help?

These Challenger Sale training exercises help you identify your abilities and work on building you Challenger Sale skill set. You can use these Challenger Sale training exercises to practice your selling.

Challenger Sale Training Exercises

These Challenger Sale Training exercises will help you identify your natural skills and develop your Challenger skill set. Pay attention to what skill you’re working on as you go through the exercises, and make notes of how you can improve in your challenger selling training.

Exercise 1: What’s Your Sales Model?

First in the Challenger Sales training model, you’ll need to learn your own sales model. A traditional sales model focuses on transactional sales of individual products based on price and volume. However, many companies have shifted to solution selling, which focuses on broad-based consultative sales of “bundles” of products and services.

How would you describe your company’s sales method—is it closer to a transactional sales model of solution sales model? Why does the company use this method?

What are the strengths and weaknesses of this method?

What would make it more effective?

Exercise 2: What’s Your Type?

You’ll see in your Challenger Selling training that research shows that sales reps fit one of five profiles, depending on certain behaviors: Hard Worker, Lone Wolf, Relationship Builder, Reactive Problem-Solver, and Challenger.

Which of the profiles best describes you? What are its pluses and minuses?

Which Challenger characteristics are most difficult for you and why?

How might adopting these characteristics impact your performance?

Continue to think about these questions throughout your Challenger Sales model training, and how you can adapt to the Challenger Sale Model.

Exercise 3: Challenger Selling

This part of your Challenger Sales training model will require you to think about how challenger selling works. The three pillars of the Challenger Selling Model are: teaching for differentiation, tailoring for resonance, and taking control of the sales conversation. 

Teaching for differentiation means differentiating yourself from competitors by offering the customer a unique and valuable insight. Think of a current or prospective customer. What new insight could you offer the customer about his business? What could the customer improve about what he or she is doing?

What makes this insight unique and valuable? 

How can you link the insight to your company’s unique solution? 

Exercise 4: Your Unique Benefits

The next exercise in your challenger sale training is about commercial teaching. In Commercial Teaching as a sales rep, you must connect the unique insights you’re giving the customer to the things your company does better than any other (your solutions). Yet many companies have trouble naming their unique benefits.

Identify your company’s unique benefits by answering the question, “Why should our customers buy from us over anyone else?”

Ask a coworker the same question and compare lists. Where do you agree and disagree?

Think about the words you used to describe the unique benefits. If you used common buzzwords like “industry leader, solutions-oriented, innovative, top, and unique,” then you’re not describing unique benefits. What more specific words could you use to differentiate your company?

Exercise 5: Choreograph Your Pitch

Next in your Challenger Selling training, think about your sales pitch. Once you’ve identified your company’s unique benefits and created a set of insights to teach customers, you need to organize your material into a teaching pitch that follows a series of choreographed steps. Try following the steps below to create a basic pitch for one of your customers.

Step 1— the warm-up: Give your assessment of an issue facing the customer and get his reaction.

Step 2—Reframing: Offer an insight or different way of looking at the problem.

Step 3—’Rational drowning’: Present the rationale for your different approach in a way that makes the customer uncomfortable (show him he’s losing money or missing an opportunity)

Step 4—Emotional impact: To help the customer emotionally with the issue, tell a story about another company that thought the same way, failed to take action, and suffered

Step 5—A new way: Review what the customer needs to do to solve the problem. He has to accept the solution before buying your solution

Step 6—Your solution: Explain how your company is best positioned to deliver the solution the customer has agreed to.

Exercise 6: Taking Control

Taking control is another important part of your Challenger Sale Training. Many sales reps, especially Relationship Builders, hesitate to challenge customers’ thinking or push back when they demand price concessions because they don’t want to seem aggressive or hurt the relationship. However, taking control is an essential Challenger behavior.

Think about a recent sales conversation in which you felt an uncomfortable tension. How did you respond? Why did you respond that way?

Who controlled the conversation from that point and what was the outcome?

Have you had a situation where you conceded more than you wanted to, and felt bad about it afterward? What was the situation? Why did you concede in the moment?

How could you prepare differently for your next sales conversation so that you feel confident and in control?

You can always go back to these Challenger Sale training exercises anytime during your work as a Challenger Seller. Learning new skills can be hard, but these Challenger Sale Training exercises can help you practice.

7 Challenger Sale Training Exercises for Sales Reps

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Challenger Sale summary:

  • Why the best salespeople take control of the sale and challenge the customer's thinking
  • How to package your company with a key insight to spark an "a-ha" moment
  • How to get the organizational support you need to maintain your sales edge

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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