The perfect couple – Social Selling combined with Challenger Sales

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Challenger Sales in Brief, it’s Pros and Cons.

Trends continue to evolve in the world of B2B marketing. One such trend is the Challenger sales process. ‘The Challenger Sales is a book written by Brent Adamson & Matthew Dixon in 2011. Hubspot summarises the ideas within the book by explaining how the authors divide salespeople into 5 different profiles. Adamson & Dixon go on to identify that the ‘challenger’ is the most successful of the 5 and credit that success to the characteristics of debating and ‘pushing’ the customer based on sound knowledge of their business. This sales model appears to be the polar opposite of social selling and indeed it is. While there is clear proof of the effectiveness in challenger selling, it could be off putting to customers used to the social selling style.

Compliment the old with the new.

In reality, what is needed is context. When new ideas emerge, it is tempting to abandon the old and aggressively pursue the new new in hope of pushing up sales. But we don’t actually abandon those old ideas, one on one conversation is still regarded as one of the best ways to convert leads. We might use Skype instead of the telephone but the principle remains the same. Marketers still use email and to this day email marketing is regarded as one of the safest and most productive tools despite being 40 years old and many large companies still use physical mail outs.

Get the best of both worlds.

Experienced sellers incorporate new ideas with tried and tested ones, they build on their original foundations while embracing fresh models to create a harmonious balance. So, if you have been using social selling to good returns, there is no need to dive in at the deep end and adopt the challenger process. Rather than placing yourself in peril and endangering your hard earned leads, find the balance between social selling and challenge selling.

Just like the seasoned veteran marketer, you can have the best of both worlds so long as you know how to find the middle ground between challenging and social selling.

A few tips to get you started on a basis off combined Social – and Challenger   Selling.

1. Nobody likes an arrogant salesperson, Even less an ignorant One

– Long gone are the days of ‘ Wolf of Wall St’ style salesmen. The 1980s framed businessmen as insensitive and cold through the movies of the time. And there was an element of truth about sales marketing back then in the ‘dark days.’

The arrival of the internet heralded a new era where customers and clients have far greater input than before. You cannot simply tell a potential lead what is good for them. Social selling teaches us to dig deep and learn your client’s behaviours and needs, get to know their product and figure out what value you can add to that product.

Challenge selling allows you to constructively offer insight into improvement but also to have a tailored solution ready. Rather than preaching, educate and support your client through the buyer’s journey.

2. Be a human being, not a bot

It is perhaps rather telling that internet ‘bots’ are becoming the norm. Countless institutions utilise these bots on Face book Messenger and Skype, often as ways of tailoring certain content for a user. As a marketer, your role is in some ways similar in that you observe client behaviour online through analysis of tweets and other forms of social media chatter. When you see a potential lead you may decide to comment on their post or direct message them:

– If your tone is like that of a bot, it is unlikely you will get anywhere.

– Be as human as possible, think of your interactions as if you were speaking to

people in real life.

– Keep in mind the etiquettes of face to face business and aim to be persuasive rather

than dominant or docile.

– You need to give value and you need to get something of value in return, the first

step to this is to make genuine and lasting relationships.

There comes a time when friends and colleagues can trust each other enough to be honest and offer constructive advice but the relationship needs to be built first.

3. Perfect Your Online Oratory Style

– Many of us enjoy and are inspired by TED Talks, when it comes to speech and most importantly, rhetoric, TED Talk speakers set a standard to aspire to. The best thing about these speakers is they have no set method for giving their speeches, in fact there is great variety in part due to the numerous different fields such people specialise in. Some rules however do apply to TED speeches and can be found in all of them. Each speaker will have carefully and thoughtfully examined potential challenges to their argument. It’s not enough to know how to shut someone down, we need to be able to understand their challenges and why someone would make them. We must be able to think like the person who is perhaps concerned at what we are proposing or does not understand our ideas. Rather than labelling such people as detractors or time wasters, we should think of them as intelligent and consider them our equals. When we truly understand our clients, we can persuade them. We have to develop proper answers to their questions using empathy and emotional intelligence. Mere rebuttals will leave leads on the table, buyers will walk away dissatisfied and disillusioned at the perceived arrogance of your sales pitch.

The merits of challenger selling are indisputable but they don’t invalidate the merits of social selling. A perfect marriage of both ideas will ensure your existing leads are retained and with a proper strategy in place, new leads come in at the same time.

It might be the right time for you to reach out and book a free consultation with an appropriate consultancy (such as 2MARK-IT!) to discuss your needs.

About the Author: Peter Rovers is CEO of 2MARK-IT a global Social Selling enablement, consultancy and training firm.