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The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation
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The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  1,058 ratings  ·  95 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,
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Hardcover, 240 pages
Published November 10th 2011 by Portfolio (first published November 1st 2011)
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The Extremely Successful Salesman's Club by Chris     MurrayPositioning by Al RiesThe E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. GerberThe Tipping Point by Malcolm GladwellSelling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith
Strong Business Books
50th out of 54 books — 27 voters
To Sell Is Human by Daniel H. PinkGetting Things Done by David AllenThe Lean Startup by Eric RiesSpin Selling by Neil RackhamThe Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon
Business Development Reading List
5th out of 21 books — 1 voter


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Community Reviews

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Chris Johnson
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"
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Paul
Mar 07, 2012 Paul rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Jared
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.
Rowan
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
Parcoast
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
Charlie Hecke
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
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Avinash Kunchurkar
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
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Chris Mortenson
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
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Jacob
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.
Trevor
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
Ian
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.
Jon
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
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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
Mohamed
- New Framework which need to be tested.

The Challenger Sale


1) The Hard Worker
• Always willing to go the extra mile
• Doesn’t give up easily
• Self-motivated
• Interested in feedback and development
2) The Challenger
• Always has a different view of the world
• Understands the customer’s business
• Loves to debate
• Pushes the customer
3) The Relationship Builder
• Builds strong advocates in customer organization
• Generous in giving time to help others
• Gets along with everyone
4) The Lone Wolf
• Follows ow
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Marc  Binkley
I'm the first to admit that I was NOT looking forward to this book. The idea of an aggressive sales person "controlling" the sale with tired old tactics like "next Tuesday at 10am or 2pm" was not appealing at all.

However, I chose to read the book based on a number of trusted referrals.

And, I'm glad I did.

The Challenger Sale is a branding book disguised in a salespersons clothing. The authors do a very good job offering practical solutions to :

- end the war between sales and marketing
- align s
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David Cooke
Frankly, there is very little that is ground breaking or new in this book. The authors went to great lengths to disparage relationship and solution selling in an effort to promote the challenger sales method. This was unnecessary and, in the end, contradictory to their message as they ended up referring back to presenting solution as one of the keys to successful selling outcomes.

The authors would have been much better served if they had referred to relationship builders as servants or concierg
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Leann
This was mandatory reading for the entire sales and marketing team for my division. This is certainly a useful guide on how to re-frame the conversation. As the services and solutions that we sell in the B2B environment become increasingly complex, we can no longer rely on traditional relationship selling to close deals and move the business forward. I have already drawn on the lessons here to re-frame a marketing program that I am launching.
Srikanth
"The Challenger Sale, How to take control of the consumer conversation" provided me a great insight about what customer looks for and what they value most. This is great guide for all the sales people and think about completely new way of selling - one who wants to innovate sales process. Lot of good info. Only thing which I could see bad about this is, lot of repetition and size of book can be considerably reduced if repetition is removed.
Chris Lytle
OK - so perhaps not my usual selection, in fact something that was suggested by a coworker. That said, for anyone in the world of sales ~ however you may be connected ~ this is a must read.

From page 1 this new approach to customer interaction sets things up perfectly ~ Who are these Reps, Why do they do better and most importantly How do they succeed. Packed with numerous examples, the case for moving to a Teaching-based, Controlled sales call really gets the mind wheels turning. The pitfalls a
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Joseph Ramirez
I recently read this as part of a company wide initiative to change the way we interact with clients. It wasn't a bad book. I enjoyed the heavy data focus. I don't really like sales or self help books. A few things did resonate. Whatever.
Nicole Marie
great way to reevaluate yourself. I took the Xerox led challenger sales course (3 days) and it was eye opening when you go through thr exercise of learning what type of decision maker you are. can apply this to everyday life.
Kathleen
There are 5 different types of salespeople: the Relationship Builder; the Hard Worker; the Lone Wolf; the Reactive Problem Solver; and... the Challenger. If you're in sales, chances are good that you are a Relationship Builder. And Dixon and Adamson think you are a loser.

A Relationship Builder doesn't push his customers to think differently. A RB gives in to his customers' every whim. A RB doesn't move his customers outside their comfort zones. He wants to crawl inside the comfort zone sleeping
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John Harris
Quick read and great ideas for anyone in sales/business. The point is to add value to the people that you work with, not just do the functional part of your job - and it applies to all arenas, not just sales. Get people to think more.
Mickey Baines
Overall a good book, and it connects well with the persona techniques and strategies that are a part of the inbound marketing approach. That said, there just a few too many references to the advisory group the authors belong to. By the end, it was almost as if they were selling that group for your company to join. Had it not been for that (and it was still relatively minor), I would have rated it a five-star book.
Richard
Yes this is an important book, but it reads throughout as little more than an informercial for his company, CEB. There are a few useful chapters with compelling research around sales phenotypes, and some strong advise on how to structure an effective pitch. I read it because I had been told that I fell into the Challenger category, and wanted to be sure to distinguish it from Lone Wolf. I'm definitely left thinking about Enterprise Sales in a new way, and certainly glad to see the door slammed o ...more
Lamsouth
Some pretty revolutionary ideas for sales people but extremely difficult to implement without excellent coordination between sales, marketing & research & development.
Kris
A different way to think about the sales and buying process. Very applicable to companies that have a suite of solutions and are not niche players,
مؤمن
One of the best books I have ever read in sales. Very comprehensive with new approach and principles in the sales. What I loved about it is that they presented it with my favorable way of looking to Sales; Sales is everything in life, in addition, the book has hands-on delivery way of their concepts.It took me long time to read it as I kept reading it from the beginning every time I find that I have not done what I have read so, I stop and try to implement its ideas and reread it from the beginn ...more
Charlie Mcdonald
Agree with a lot of other reviewers - it's not as revolutionary as the authors profess it to be, but perhaps repackages strong ideas in a new and more cohesively structured way. I'm more of a fan of the authors' marketing ability ; presenting concepts like this in the midst of the Great Recession is pretty much ideal timing. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who hasn't been exposed to the challenger concepts before. If you want to be good in sales, you need to create and thrive in tens ...more
Megan Rosati
Very good ideas, excellent premise and valid points. However, it lacks content and is a bit dry due to the lack of examples and read like a statistics book.
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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
“When we isolate decision makers from the rest of the sample, and then compare the impact of the overall sales experience with that of the individual rep selling into the account, what we find is that for decision makers, aspects of the overall sales experience are nearly twice as important as individual rep attributes.” 0 likes
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