The Challenger Customer (part 1 of 10)

The Challenger Customer: Selling to the Hidden Influencer Who Can Multiply Your Results

By: Matthew Dixon, Brent Adamson, Pat Spenner and Nick Toman of CEB (2011)

[Pigeonhole] A Practical Principal Book

[Premise] Sequel to the Challenger Sale that integrates a marketing message into the sales process.  The message must be delivered to a ‘Mobilizer’, which is effectively a Challenger partner within the organization.


Introduction: The Hardest Part of Selling Solutions (p1-2)

  1. The Dark Side of Customer Consensus (p3-34)
  2. The Mobilizer (p35-56)
  3. The Art of Unteaching (p57- 82)
  4. Building Commercial Insight (p83-100)
  5. Commercial Insight in Action (p101-116)
  6. Teaching Mobilizers Where They Learn (p117-134)
  7. Two Types of Tailoring (p135-156)
  8. Taking Control of Consensus Creation (p157-182)
  9. Making Collective Learning Happen (p183-208)
  10. Shifting to a Challenger Commercial Model: Implications and Implementation Lessons (p209-254)

Acknowledgements (p255-260)
Index (p261)

[Key Points] The Challenger Customer

This is a book of surprises.

Chief among them is the surprising decline of historically effective selling strategies that now fail to generate anything near hoped-for returns.

Despite suppliers’ improved ability to convey their unique value, there’s strong evidence that today’s customers are less willing than ever before to actually payfor that value, even when they perceive it – at least not when they believe the next best, less expensive alternative is “good enough” to meet their needs. While today’s suppliers may win the battle for awareness, consideration, recommendation, and even preference, they still lose when it comes to what matters most: getting paid. As exasperating as it seems, the very solutions most companies developed to escape commoditization have themselves become commoditized in the eyes of their customers.

… there was a second part to this story. It turns out, the far bigger story isn’t about suppliers’ struggle to sellSolutions, it’s the customer’s struggle to buy them. … the severe dysfunction that is bred by the ever-expanding number of individuals who need to weigh in before a deal is signed.

In the end, what has long seemed to salespeople like a well-designed strategy to “stick it to suppliers” or beat them up on price is more often than not a function of a far less insister but arguably infinitely more intractable problem: the inability of customer stakeholders themselvesto achieve broad agreement on a common course of action in the first place.

It’s not just thatyou challenge, but whoyou challenge that really matters. To win today, you need a Challenger insidethe customer organization. … We call them Mobilizers, and this is their story.