Cultivate Challenger Reps to Drive Future Profits | FirstRain

Cultivate Challenger Reps to Drive Future Profits

By Ryan Warren, Vice President of Marketing

Tapping into opportunities to improve sales productivity by gleaning insights derived from market intelligence help sales reps find ways to motivate clients and become top performers. But the sales superstars do more than optimize their customer markets – they are challengers. They get that understanding their client’s industry – where its going, what’s trending in it, how the product is the solution for the customer’s specific issues – provides them with a means of not only engaging the client to make the sale, but how they supply a service.

According to research from the Corporate Executive Board, a sales rep’s success comes from distinguishing the client’s demands through customer intelligence. These professionals are the high performers, their team’s go-to person, client challengers, and it is essential for senior sales leaders to give their reps the best shot at shaping their client’s needs and providing a solution.

Not All Reps are Created Equal 
CEB research found 85 percent of sales professionals do not have the required skills to become top reps. According to the study, salespeople who are able to find and employ customer insights have an increased chance of promoting their product to clients and clinching the sale. Approximately one in six sales reps are natural “challengers” and are able to see strong numbers as a result. 

In an interview with Jill Konrath, a sales strategist, research authors Brent Adamson and Matthew Dixon defined challenger reps as those professionals who are able to take control of a customer meeting, can identify and target their client’s specific needs and can provide innovative solutions for their customer’s challenges. 

Challenger reps may be hard to hire for since some may not have prior sales experience – in fact, CEB found 15.6 million individuals with the traits outside of the industry – and numerous factors must be taken into account during the hiring process. Therefore, you need to develop one.

According to Salesforce’s Brent Adamson, there are five types of sales reps. Challengers are one of the profiles, but a sales team can also have a hard worker, a relationship builder, a lone wolf and a problem solver. Creating an entire team of challengers may be a bit too much, but Adamson suggested more teams need to cultivate challenger qualities, such as teaching the customer, since that is where the industry is heading.

Fostering certain challenger aspects in reps can help you make sure your team has the abilities needed to make the sale well into the future. Cultivate customer insights, promote their debate skills and remind them to deliver the complete sales experience to clients, because doing so can produce stronger customer relationships.