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The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  6,077 ratings  ·  405 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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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  6,077 ratings  ·  405 reviews

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Chris Johnson
Aug 04, 2012 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"
Grant Barnes
May 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The 5 Sales Rep Types

1. The Hard Worker
2. The Relationship Builder
3. The Lone Wolf
4. The Reactive Problem Solver
- a customer service rep in sales rep clothing
5. The Challenger

6 characteristics of a challenger rep
1. They offer customers a unique predictive 
2. They have great 2-way communication skills
3. They know the customer's value drivers
4. They can identify economic drivers of the customer's business 
5. The rep is comfortable discussing money
6. The rep can pressure the customer

A challenger sa
Dec 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: selling, reread-once
*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)
Jan 23, 2012 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
Feb 17, 2015 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
Christine Lynch
Nov 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: sales
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.
Kair Käsper
Dec 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: starting-up
It's damn difficult to find a good sales book that's not filled with fluff. This book also doesn't fully pass the test, but the concepts discussed are quite practical and applicable in any company.

As someone who is building out the sales function at a startup, this book entered orbit at the exact right time.
Garrett Wilson
Oct 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book presented so many fascinating concepts that I know are going to be so helpful in my sales job. This book challenges conventional wisdom on building successful relationships with clients, but it also acknowledges that every sales person is different. So many great takeaways that I can’t wait to implement!
Nov 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, audiobook
I found the concept of “The Challenger Sale” to be very interesting. Like many business books, this one starts with “we’ve done a study”, this time on the types of salesmen that are successful. In this case, the findings are not that your typical “relationship is key” salesman is very successful. But neither is the “here’s our product info” salesman. The best kind of salesman in the current environment is one that is knowledgeable about his prospect’s business and can challenge them with a bette ...more
Apr 26, 2015 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.
Oct 03, 2012 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.
Jökull Auðunsson
Like most business books, could have been condensed into something shorter but just as impactful. Very good field guide for enterprise and service-style sales teams.
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
As far as sales books go, this is one of the better ones. The premise as the economy tanked in 2008, sales org. had to find a way to grow their business in a shrinking market. To do so, sales org. have to bring valuable insights to the clients. It's not just about gathering requirements and providing a solution. Rather, it's about knowing the customer's market, teaching them something they don't know, and tailoring a solution that helps THEM differentiate in the marketplace. The word customer ce ...more
Sven Kirsimäe
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: at-audible, in-device
This book is to understand how to sell and what personality types might fit the best for your sales team. For me, it all reminds a lot about 🎣 :D

The major outcome of the book is, that the Challenger type of a salesperson applies to any other role there is, which is great news for anyone not in sales ;)
Chris Marr
Aug 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sales
If you’re in B2B sales this sales philosophy is not only worth reading, but worthy of study and practice. I’ll be revisiting this book and in the mean time I’ll be implementing some of the key practices in the challenger sales philosophy to improve how I consult and help my clients make better decisions, faster.
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book came recommended by sales pros with a lot of experience and I can see why. It's *the* sales book I've been looking for to help understand complex selling in B2B environment. It offered a completely different take on the sales process and opened up my eyes to so many things! Should be a must read for anyone in business - not only sales. ...more
Tim V
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
For all my complex sales friends, if you've not read it it is defintely worth it. ...more
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've never read a book about sales specifically, and this one was a great entry point. I had so many "ah-hah" moments while reading it- "so that's why our best salespeople pitch this way!" If I were leading a sales org, I would reread this, and have my managers and employees read it, too. Biggest take-away: the best sales reps offer their customers some new insight, or way of seeing things differently (and conveniently, that insight leads them down the path toward their product as a solution). ...more
Darrell Amy
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business, sales
I highly endorse The Challenger Sale for any company in the B2B space. There is so much value in this book for both marketers and sales professionals. In the spirit of marketing and sales alignment, this would be a fantastic team read. Salespeople would begin to see the vision for developing business acumen. Marketing professionals would get a clear understanding of the type of content they need to provide to support the sale. Business owners would see how they can add value by mentoring their m ...more
Josh Noore
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A must read for anyone working within a sales organisation. The book outlines the skills and framework required to sell complex solutions in the modern B2B environment. Many established sales norms are contradicted and a new step by step framework introduced.
Sep 01, 2012 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
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"The Challenger Sale", written by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson of CEB, and published in 2011 remains in my opinion one of the most impactful sales books from this decade. It is engaging, fact-based, and well-written. The authors manage to disentangle different sales personas/types and bring clarity and insight into not only how people have been selling and ought to sell, but describing the explicit approach in going about doing so. It clarifies that while all sales types can be successful--an ...more
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am not a salesperson by any means but everything that I thought was logical in the way I would approach sales, this book turned on its head.

Did you know the 'What keeps you up at night?' question is the worst one to ask? The back and forth interview with a salesperson and a client gets exhausting for the buyer and results in an inability to differentiate between vendors. It also limits the conversations to features of a product which also start sounding the same after the 3rd time of hearing
Robert Bogue
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first started my career I loathed sales. I saw a used car salesman trying to take advantage of you so that he could sell one more car and get a commission. I never saw them as folks of high integrity. That was until I went to some of the sales training programs of Bill Caskey. Bill introduced me to the idea of the solution sale. That is he told me that sales should be an advocate for the client trying to make their lives easier. This aligned with my view of the world and while I would nev ...more
Subu Balan
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book has become a constant companion in helping me set bars higher for myself and the teams I lead. Never fails to apply the principles set in here to define the type of homework and planning a good sales leader ought to do to capitalize on the hard earned sales opportunities.
Oct 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Interesting, but builds quite long on a somewhat simple premise. Better second time around.
Sep 07, 2015 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. ...more
Jan 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Energetic, hard-selling ;-) and certainly providing numerous insights, inspirations and actionable recommendations.
Nov 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-to-read
nice analysis of sales types and some surprising i data. challenger sales is the a great way for b2b sales.
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Twists, turns, red herrings, the usual suspects: These books have it all...and more. If you love mysteries and thrillers, get ready for dozens...
129 likes · 31 comments
“There’s something else about this list that really jumps out. Take another look at the top five attributes listed there—the key characteristics defining a world-class sales experience: Rep offers unique and valuable perspectives on the market. Rep helps me navigate alternatives. Rep provides ongoing advice or consultation. Rep helps me avoid potential land mines. Rep educates me on new issues and outcomes. Each of these attributes speaks directly to an urgent need of the customer not to buy something, but to learn something. They’re looking to suppliers to help them identify new opportunities to cut costs, increase revenue, penetrate new markets, and mitigate risk in ways they themselves have not yet recognized. Essentially this is the customer—or 5,000 of them at least, all over the world—saying rather emphatically, “Stop wasting my time. Challenge me. Teach me something new.” 5 likes
“what sets the best suppliers apart is not the quality of their products, but the value of their insight—new ideas to help customers either make money or save money in ways they didn’t even know were possible.” 4 likes
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