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The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,736 Ratings  ·  142 Reviews
What's the secret to sales success? If you're like most business leaders, you'd say it's fundamentally about relationships-and you'd be wrong. The best salespeople don't just build relationships with customers. They challenge them.

The need to understand what top-performing reps are doing that their average performing colleagues are not drove Matthew Dixon, Brent Adamson,
Hardcover, 221 pages
Published November 10th 2011 by Portfolio (first published November 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Chris Johnson
Aug 04, 2012 Chris Johnson rated it it was amazing
I've read probably 150 sales books in my life.

I read this and thought "My Friend Is Here!". Then I called our new friends at Penguin, arranged for the intro to the authors, and used their techniques on them to get a contract to produce the book trailer.

This book is for the misfits - not the lone wolf salespeople, but the ones that are fearless, ready to handle hot potatoes and play poker, and teach, and take control of selling situations.

It's been a long held belief that "relationship selling"
Mar 07, 2012 Paul rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sales
There's been so many books on selling and so many "systems" that it's hard to find something... anything... new and innovative. The Challenger Sale does, in fact, challenge some long held assumptions about selling success. Unlike your usual book of advice written by some self-proclaimed sales "guru," this book bases its guidance and conclusions on research... hard data research. Most salespeople who have been successful over a long period of time and through the ups and downs of economies intuit ...more
Jun 07, 2016 Jim is currently reading it
Shelves: selling
*rereading this for work*

This is the Corporate Executive Board website about the Challenger Sale . Tons of Media about this book.

A 35 minute audio interview with the author:

10 minute recap ( does not replace reading the book)
Apr 28, 2016 Jared rated it it was amazing
There are very few books that I would give 6 stars out of 5 - but this is one of them. I listened to this in audio, but will go purchase the book so I can add my notes and experiences in the margins. This book will change my professional perspective; and how I view my career.
Feb 17, 2015 Parcoast rated it it was ok
The Challenger Sale is not a bad book, especially when directed to the right audience, but that is where I had trouble with it. I picked it up as a general manager of a small business, and found that although some of the ideas were good, and the research interesting, it was not very applicable in my situation. It would be better directed toward sales managers in established organizations. The method it promotes is to control the sale by way challenging the customer, and I like that approach. How ...more
Sep 01, 2012 Rowan rated it liked it
Shelves: business
Interesting psychological profiling of various personality types and how they succeed at complex sales. The main idea is that one of the types, the "challenger", is surprisingly more successful at closing deals than one of the other types, the "relationship" builder -- the guy who slaps you on the back. This isn't selling cars, this is selling complex things like enterprise software, POS systems, corporate ad campaigns (?), architecture, corporate accounting services... etc. The challenger doesn ...more
Sep 07, 2015 Craig rated it really liked it
Just finished this book. Now it's time to implement these methods which will be a real paradigm shift for me.
Adam Zabell
Jan 20, 2016 Adam Zabell rated it liked it
Shelves: business
tl;dr - teach your customer to keep your customer

The 'Challenger Sale' is one of 5 archetypes of salespeople, and is the best of those five at knowing what the customer wants instead of what they say they want. This comes from a deep understanding of the intersection between customer and product that customer could buy. The authors reduced this to the phrase "teach for differentiation, tailor for resonance, and take control of the sale."

At its core, this model argues against commodity sales (wh
Tom S
Dec 25, 2015 Tom S rated it it was amazing
I listened to the audio version of this book.

As an IT professional with a role that includes selling I really liked the concepts and ideas introduced by this book. There is a strong element of the writers trying to sell you a course/consulting, but it's easy enough to overlook.

The main theme is to change the dynamic of a typical sales relationship. Instead of asking what a customer wants and trying to draw out what they want to achieve, prove that you know their market/industry/problems by leadi
Shashwat Singh
Nov 06, 2015 Shashwat Singh rated it it was amazing
"The Challenger Sale" is based on the latest sales research that's come out in the last few years (post financial meltdown).

The sales environment has evolved drastically since the release of SPIN Selling. While SPIN Selling is still an excellent read with very relevant information, the environment has changed and new approaches are needed to compete effectively.

For one there has been a rise in solution selling, where companies sell whole solutions as opposed to individual items and services. Sol
Charlie Hecke
Jul 30, 2014 Charlie Hecke rated it really liked it
The Challenger Sale evokes reactions and disturbs conventional thinking. The authors want to encourage organizations, groups and sales people to “push the customer’s thinking and teach them something new” p 21. It is not surprising then that the reader is given a challenge to think about sales in different ways. Even the introduction by Neil Rackham stirs up controversy:

“How you sell has become more important than what you sell. An effective sales force is a more sustainable competitive advantag
Avinash Kunchurkar
Apr 16, 2014 Avinash Kunchurkar rated it it was amazing
This is an ultimate book on advance selling. Just trust me when i say this.
I run a business of marketing of machine tools and cutting tools and i have implemented the sales strategy as laid out in this book and i am glad to share with you that i seen astonishing results with this strategy

To implement this strategy below are the key initial requirement which will help you start immediately
1. You need to have prior experience in sales as this is an advance selling book (to be aware of cold callin
Chris Mortenson
Feb 13, 2014 Chris Mortenson rated it liked it
This book had some good information and changed the way I think about selling, business, and conflict. It could have made it a little more clear what we were supposed to do with the information, but the information was good. I realize that I am not much of a challenger, not as much as I could and should be. It isn't too far from my natural style of interaction so I will try to employ the challenger's tactics in the future.

The problem with this book is that it should only be about 1/3 the length
Feb 02, 2014 Jacob rated it liked it
I loved the premise of this book. Without any question I agree with the message that the authors present. Sales people must evolve into being consultants and teachers who challenge the customer and force a conversation about goals and insights.

I do think the book rambles on a little and is unnecessarily long. It would make for a great 1-2 hour seminar or sales training but I felt like I slowly stopped getting value as I read on.
Brian Simons
May 01, 2016 Brian Simons rated it liked it
I thought this book was interesting but not ground breaking. I always struggle with authors that go do case studies and then present the findings as though it is ground breaking advancements when all that has happened is the capture of what a sub set of a population are doing that makes them great. With in that, very good observations and capture of data which is then linked to business results. I thought the linkage between the observations and how business leaders or their team members can ada ...more
Lauren Ocean
Sep 30, 2015 Lauren Ocean rated it liked it
For the most part this book served as reassurance to continue my way of doing things in client relationships. The reassurance is particularly nice because my methods have been recently frowned upon and even undermined by people on my side of the table (especially men with relationship based strategies) who are concerned that my assertiveness will screw up relationships despite my effectiveness time and time again with those across the table from me. The response of the naysayers has been to cons ...more
Ryan Lackey
Jan 31, 2016 Ryan Lackey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, owned
A great counterpoint/extension of the consultative/solutions sales process from Neil Rackham's SPIN Selling (among others). The fundamental insight: customers don't merely want you to question them about problems they already know (at best, you can show you know as much as they do) -- they want you to bring actual insights to them, relevant to their problems. "Teach (the customer about something relevant), Tailor (to make the process both relevant to the customer and to your own solutions), Take ...more
May 13, 2014 Trevor rated it it was amazing
The Challenger Sale is the culmination of years of research and study of top-producing sales individuals by Matt Dixon and his colleagues. In it, Dixon et al provide a framework for hiring and training a "Challenger" sales team while convincingly demonstrating problems with the relationship-building sales paradigm of the past ~50 years. As one who is generally on the receiving end of sales' pitches I found myself nodding at the books suggested sales strategies, the authors have accurately distil ...more
Feb 02, 2016 Jan rated it liked it
Energetic, hard-selling ;-) and certainly providing numerous insights, inspirations and actionable recommendations.
Visnja Zeljeznjak
Oct 18, 2015 Visnja Zeljeznjak rated it it was amazing
The new way of selling is not to "discover the needs" of your customers because the world got so complicated today that the customers don't know what they need anymore! And they don't have the time to answer the many questions the sales reps want to know.

That's why the new way to sell is to teach the customers something they didn't know about their business, to show them the ways to save money and time they didn't know existed. In other words, the best salespeople will be the constant source of
John Doyle
Nov 08, 2015 John Doyle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
The Challenger Sale frames the sale of complex solutions as an exercise in "teaching, tailoring, and taking control." The book successfully adopts the model itself by first challenging the conventional wisdom that the most successful salespeople are those who build close relationships with their buyers. In extensive research into the behaviors of successful sales teams the findings were that relationship-based selling leads to slow sales cycles, suboptimal deal terms, and lower win rates than th ...more
Mar 20, 2016 Natalie rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 16, 2012 Ian rated it liked it
Some interesting thoughts and tools, but it feels like they turned a simple white paper into a book. There is a lot of fluff to wade through.
Nov 02, 2014 Thomas rated it liked it
Speedread it. Interesting, but builds quite long on a somewhat simple premise. Not immediately in my interest.
Jun 01, 2014 Jon rated it really liked it
I used to dismiss sales guys almost entirely, thinking of them as nothing but bros, dudes, and dude-bros. But working with a sales team and reading The Challenger Sale has shifted my thinking. The premise here is that the best sales people are experts in the industry and that as a result they know how to educate prospective clients.

In other words, the best sales people aren't phony "what's up bro?" types. Instead, the best sales people are educators and debaters. They challenge prospective clie
Matt Pengilley
Challenges the currently popular notions in customer service focused businesses, that excellent customer service and giving the customer what they want is enough to increase business and profits. This book explores the notion that what will set your business apart from the rest is to be able to offer your customer a different point of view, a new challenge and new ideas. This book suggests that this is what customers really want, not 'yes men' but a new point of view that will help them grow. So ...more
Dec 06, 2015 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, non-fiction
I can't tell if this book is really good, or just sorta good. It doesn't help that it's the first sales book I've read. That said, I thought it made excellent (and challenging... no reference intended) points about what customers want from sales and how to succeed selling complex solutions. I also very much appreciated the time the authors took to point out that the organization has a big responsibility to create vision and content and collateral. In the end, this made a lot of sense, was backed ...more
Feb 29, 2016 Ange rated it really liked it
**Please note: Possible Spoilers Below**

If I'm being completely frank about the way this book impacted me, I think I'd rate it a 5 for content, but a 2 for delivery. That being said, it was a worthwhile (albeit mandatory...and let's face it, something of a goal of mine anyway) exploit. Having spent more than a decade in sales, I had already been introduced to a lot of the concepts that are presented here, but the last thing I want to do is waste my most precious commodity -- time.

The bottom lin
Andrew Garvin
Nov 15, 2015 Andrew Garvin rated it really liked it
I am not a salesman, but sales is important in any business, so I picked up The Challenger Sale to help fill a knowledge gap. As an executive at an enterprise software startup, I see many divergent sales approaches. We are still discovering the best positioning for the product on the marketing side. Even without that in place, we have a few very successful salespeople. The Challenger Sale gave me a framework for understanding their success, especially versus our... challenged salespeople.

The aut
James Barr
Jul 18, 2015 James Barr rated it really liked it
I especially like the emphasis of this book on taking control of the sale from the beginning. This does not mean that the sales rep should be aggressive with the customer, but that he/she should be assertive--there to make a genuine contribution to the welfare of the client, not just acquiesce on any point to get the sale.

While this book especially applies to selling large ticket items to businesses in strongly competitive situations, significant applications can also be made to any type of sale
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“customer loyalty survey—specifically, that 53 percent of B2B customer loyalty is a product of how you sell, not what you sell.” 1 likes
“In other words, the consensus sale isn’t something you should be fighting—it’s something you should be actively pursuing. You can’t just elevate the conversation and cut everyone else out because it’s exactly that team input that the decision maker values most when it comes to loyalty.” 1 likes
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