Brent Adamson

Brent Adamson is Senior Director of Member Advisory Services for the Sales, Marketing, and Communications Practice at the Corporate Executive Board.Brent joined CEB from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, where he received his MBA.
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Matthew Dixon
What's the secret to sales success? If you're like most business leaders, you'd say it's fundamentally about relationships-and you'd be wrong. The best salespeople don't just build relationships with customers. They challenge them.

The need to understand what top-performing reps are doing that their average performing colleagues are not drove Matthew Dixon, Brent Adamson, and their colleagues at Corporate Executive Board to investigate the skills, behaviors, knowledge, and attitudes that matter most for high performance. And what they discovered may be the biggest shock to conventional sales wisdom in decades.

Based on an exhaustive study of thousands of sales reps across multiple industries and geographies, The Challenger Sale argues that classic relationship building is a losing approach, especially when it comes to selling complex, large-scale business-to-business solutions. The authors' study found that every sales rep in the world falls into one of five distinct profiles, and while all of these types of reps can deliver average sales performance, only one-the Challenger- delivers consistently high performance.

Instead of bludgeoning customers with endless facts and features about their company and products, Challengers approach customers with unique insights about how they can save or make money. They tailor their sales message to the customer's specific needs and objectives. Rather than acquiescing to the customer's every demand or objection, they are assertive, pushing back when necessary and taking control of the sale.

The things that make Challengers unique are replicable and teachable to the average sales rep. Once you understand how to identify the Challengers in your organization, you can model their approach and embed it throughout your sales force. The authors explain how almost any average-performing rep, once equipped with the right tools, can successfully reframe customers' expectations and deliver a distinctive purchase experience that drives higher levels of customer loyalty and, ultimately, greater growth.

Brent Adamson
Four years ago, the bestselling authors of The Challenger Sale overturned decades of conventional wisdom with a bold new approach to sales. Now their latest research reveals something even more surprising: Being a Challenger seller isn’t enough. Your success or failure also depends on who you challenge.

Picture your ideal customer: friendly, eager to meet, ready to coach you through the sale and champion your products and services across the organization. It turns out that’s the last person you need.

Most marketing and sales teams go after low-hanging fruit: buyers who are eager and have clearly articulated needs. That’s simply human nature; it’s much easier to build a relationship with someone who always makes time for you, engages with your content, and listens attentively. But according to brand-new CEB research—based on data from thousands of B2B marketers, sellers, and buyers around the world—the highest-performing teams focus their time on potential customers who are far more skeptical, far less interested in meeting, and ultimately agnostic as to who wins the deal. How could this be?

The authors of The Challenger Customer reveal that high-performing B2B teams grasp something that their average-performing peers don’t: Now that big, complex deals increasingly require consensus among a wide range of players across the organization, the limiting factor is rarely the salesperson’s inability to get an individual stakeholder to agree to a solution. More often it’s that the stakeholders inside the company can’t even agree with one another about what the problem is.

It turns out only a very specific type of customer stakeholder has the credibility, persuasive skill, and will to effectively challenge his or her colleagues to pursue anything more ambitious than the status quo. These customers get deals to the finish line far more often than friendlier stakeholders who seem so receptive at first. In other words, Challenger sellers do best when they target Challenger customers.

The Challenger Customer unveils research-based tools that will help you distinguish the "Talkers" from the "Mobilizers" in any organization. It also provides a blueprint for finding them, engaging them with disruptive insight, and equipping them to effectively challenge their own organization.
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