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How to Sell to a ‘Challenger Customer’ w/ Brent Adamson [Episode 282]

Among the many topics Brent and I discuss are how the ‘challenger customer’ paradigm presents a challenge both for the buyer and the seller, how it forces sellers to adapt their processes, and strategies for creating a mental model of the customer’s business and strategy and how ‘selling low’ to establish stakeholder consensus is an effective sales strategy.

Joining me on this episode of Accelerate! is Brent Adamson, Principal Executive Advisor at CEB and co-author of the bestselling books, The Challenger Sale and most recently, The Challenger Customer: Selling to the Hidden Influencer Who Can Multiply Your Results.


Why the current makeup and composition of major stakeholders demands a different sales approach.

How ‘selling low’ to establish stakeholder consensus is an effective sales strategy for selling complex systems.

How closing a complex deal requires collective consensus from ~ 6.7 decision makers with widely diverse requirements, challenges and interests. ,

Why end-users themselves as well as marketing are now driving IT-related decisions.

Why the ‘challenger customer’ is both a buying and a selling problem and why customers seem less willing to pay for the value that sales bid.

Brent discusses why sales reps who sell to an “established demand” vs. “emerging demand” are not so upset that customers are about 57% through their purchase process prior to reaching out to them.

Brent makes the following point about the Business-to-People (B2P) marketing space — It’s not companies but people that buy things, but more importantly, it’s not people but groups of people that buy things.

Brent discusses the idea of maximizing the return (ROI) on effort and how one of the extremely difficult things for a company to do is “to buy stuff”.

Brent says, customers today are far less empowered than they are overwhelmed. Therefore, a solution for an empowered vs. an overwhelmed customer is different in many respects.

Brent discusses the 3 dynamics of information, options and people which lead to customers feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed in their efforts to make rational decisions.

Why companies view their ability to gather information and make decisions quickly as a strategic advantage

How do you sell to help companies make decisions with the least amount of investment in time, money and effort? And, how the 3 high level behaviors of teach, tailor and take control can lay out the road map for customers.

Strategies for creating a mental model of the customer’s business and strategy.


Who is your sales role model?

Steve Jobs, because I’m in the business of selling ideas.

What’s one book that everyone should read?

Any book that gets you to say, “Huh, I never thought of it that way before”.

What music is on your playlist right now?

O.A.R., Dave Matthews