Relationship Selling vs. Challenger Selling

As most of you know from reading this blog, I’m a big proponent of challenger selling. I’ve written about the benefits of challenger selling and the downsides of relying on relationship-building to close sales. Today, I’d like to offer a scenario that highlights the differences between these two approaches.

Suppose a prospect says that they only will approve an efficiency project if it has a two-year payback or less. A salesperson who uses relationship selling strategy would probably tell his or her prospect, “Okay. Well let’s try to find you something that has a two-year payback or less.” Assuming there is a solution that fits this restrictive condition, the salesperson will be able to make a sale. Unfortunately, this sale will probably be small, and the salesperson will be throwing away the potential for a much larger one.  

In the same situation, a challenger seller would say something like, “Well sure we could probably find something with a two-year payback or less, and you’d probably be leaving 90% of the energy savings potential in the tree. Do you know any farmer who only harvests the lowest-hanging fruit?” A sales professional would zip it and give the prospect some time to think about this question. Chances are the prospect will realize that they’re wasting potential savings by limiting themselves to a payback period of two years.

So what’s the moral of the story? Being the agreeable, nice salesperson doesn’t work. If you’re afraid to give your prospects a gentle push, you’re leaving both energy savings and money on the table.

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By (Efficiency Sales Professional Institute-) | |
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