The Challenger Sale by Dixon and Adamson talks about 5 kinds of successful sales people:
The Hard Worker
- always willing to go the extra mile
- doesn't give up easily
- interested in feedback and development
The Relationship Builder
- builds strong advocates in customer organisation
- generous in giving time to help others
- gets along with everyone
The Lone Wolf
- follows own instincts
- difficult to control
The Reactive Problem Solver
- reliably responds to internal and external stakeholders
- ensures that all problems are solved
- always has a different view of the world
- understands the customer's business
- loves to debate
- pushes the customer
It goes on to say that 'Relationship Builders' have been in great demand - 'make a friend, gain a sale!' - but it suggests that actually, they are the least likely to appear towards the top of the sales charts.
This is because the relationship-builders are too eager to please and run the risk of becoming yes-men - which is fine if the customer is correct, but less good if you're agreeing with the customer's daft idea. Also, the relationship-builder tends to start taking the customer's point of view rather than their own company's - i.e. 'they can't afford a price-rise', 'they need a bigger discount' etc etc
Who is most likely to appear at the top of the sales charts? That accolade goes to the Challenger, who has all the relationship-building skills, but doesn't stop there. They 'teach, tailor and control' - i.e. they are not affable yes-men, but people who are prepared to challenge their clients, show them the benefits of innovation and creativity and indeed, be persuasive in helping clients dare to be different.
The ultimate compliment comes from customers, who would say, after a visit from a Challenger, we would have paid for that conversation. In other words, the Challenger has acted as a consultant - not just asking questions about needs, but fully understanding the customer's business and industry and challenging them on what they're doing - and not being afraid to push what they see as the correct solution.
Are your salespeople knowledgeable enough to challenge? Do they have the confidence to move beyond relationship-building? They need to - because that's what customers appreciate and if your team aren't doing it, somebody else will...
Final Point! Second in the list of high achievers were the Lone Wolves - i.e. monumental pains-in-the-neck, maverick, non-conformist, won't-do-as-they're-told nuisances - but who you daren't sack because they're bringing in the business in these difficult times!! Anybody on your team like this? Thought so....
Overall, The Challenger Sale by Dixon and Adamson is a good sales book, deserving a read, even if the second half is mostly padding....