Chapter 9: Implementation Lessons from The Early Adopters
Chapter 9 explores the Challenger implementation for sales, marketing and senior leaders. The authors warn that identifying who is actually a Challenger is not always easy as one top performers is indeed a Challenger and another may be a Lone Wolf. These hyper-individualized sales reps make up a lower proportion of reps overall -- 18 percent -- but make up about 25 percent of the high performers. These salespeople are, however, toxic to sales organizations as they fly solo and do not collaborate which doesn't help the team as a whole.
Hiring for Challengers can be a difficult but necessary proposition. As the sales reps naturally churn, bringing in Challengers to replace them is predicated upon asking the right questions in the screening and interview process. Questions like, "Can you describe a time when you got a customer to think of a problem or a need differently?" are greater ways to uncover the Challenger within. Another way to build a Challenger-driven team is to train the existing reps to adhere to the model. This requires large-scale behavior change from reps and weighs heavily on the leading and development team (if they exist, otherwise it's up to the sales leaders). The most successful companies are doing three things to boost sales training: getting reps excited before the training even begins; using experiential learning as a way to get reps real-time exposure to the model; utilizing consistently applied certifications programs over time.
The marketing team must get involved as well for the Challenger Model as the sales and this team needs to work hand-in-hand to be successful. Marketing should help a company take on a customer-centric approach as well as an insight-centric view. Savvy marketers know that they have Challengers right now out in the field that are teaching customer brand new ideas and concepts and they should learn from and tailor messaging around these distinctive ideas. Words like "unique", "leading", "best" and "solution" are so over-used a buyer will lump your company in with the rest of them as you are telling them you are just like everyone else. In order to truly distinguish yourself from the competition, the marketing team should create messaging that doesn't describe differentiation but instead shows the value it brings to the customer. A marketer can do this by being memorable, not agreeable and by building a pitch that leads to a solution and not with it.
Finally, senior leaders need to get involved with the goal of an approximately 80% adoption rate at implementation. The C-Suite must understand that 100 percent adoption is nearly impossible and, in actuality, that is okay. The other 20% may be Lone Wolves and simply may not want to change their methodology. And in reality, if they are hitting their quotas there is really no need to convert the stubborn. The authors recommend a slow, pilot-based roll-out to get to the 80% adoption rate. Things to consider dring the rollout: How big the group is that will adopt, who the early adopters are, which metrics make sense to measure the effectiveness of the rollout and what was learned during the process to hone the adoption program in the future.