Hone Your Skills

How To Incorporate the Challenger Sales Model

September 13, 2022
5 min read

The Challenger sales model is a concept put forth by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, who authored The Challenger Sale. The sales book challenges the widely accepted view that relationship building is an indispensable aspect of the sales process. 

The authors suggest that the most successful sales reps put customer relationships on the backburner, focusing their time and energy on taking control of the customer conversation. To Adamson and Dixon, demonstrating a product’s value proposition and how it solves a customer’s problems and pain points is far more important than relationship-building. 

Below, Poised explains this concept in more detail and outlines the five types of salespeople in the Challenger model. 

What Is the Challenger Sales Model?

The Challenger sales methodology and template centers around a sales process aimed at teaching, modifying, and taking control of sales experiences. Dixon and Adamson believe that high performers can maximize results with the right sales management, sales training, and sales tools. Many B2B sales reps implement this sales approach today.

But what does it mean to be a challenger sales rep? Dixon and Adamson conducted extensive research into the behaviors and attitudes of top performers and categorized them into five different types of sales professionals, which we’ll cover below. 

What Are the Five Types of Sales Reps in the Challenger Model?

If you’re looking to improve your sales method or implement sales enablement for your sales teams, learning about the challenger approach should be one of your first steps.

Here are the five types of challenger sales reps: 

The Challenger

Challengers devote time and energy to acquiring a deep understanding of their customers' businesses so that they can challenge their preconceptions. This way, the salesperson keeps control of the sales conversation.

These sales reps take an assertive approach with everyone they talk to and don’t shy away from expressing controversial views for maximum emotional impact. Challengers are among the largest block of star performers.

The Challenger Sale book is built upon the Challenger profile and details how salespeople can execute the methodology in their careers. Challenger selling is often viewed as the best route toward customer loyalty and the best sales possible.

The Lone Wolf

Lone Wolves are among the most self-confident sales reps, and using their own instincts in a sales strategy comes naturally to them. These sales professionals are not afraid to break the status quo to close deals, and they can be difficult to manage. To Lone Wolves, it’s their way or the highway.

There are fewer Lone Wolves than any other category of Challenger salespeople. But they are second only to Challengers when it comes to the number of high performers.

The Hard Worker

The Hard Workers are precisely what it sounds like: the team members that show up early, stay late, and always go above and beyond. These sales reps often call and meet with more prospects than any of their coworkers. 

Hard Workers thrive on hustling, are highly self-motivated, and are relentless about not giving up. They are perhaps the easiest to manage, and they regularly seek personal development and feedback.

The Relationship Builder

This is the most conventional type of Challenger sales professional. Relationship Builders fit the mold of a traditional consultative sales rep. Their main concern is developing relationships with current and prospective customers and building advocates on the inside.

Relationship Builders devote their time and resources to gradually cultivating professional and personal relationships within their sales organizations. They’re willing to do whatever it takes to meet a customer’s needs and are committed to minimizing tension in commercial relationships. 

Despite the fact that most sales programs are designed for Relationship Builders, this is the least effective category.

The Problem Solver

Customers perceive Problem Solvers as highly detailed-oriented and reliable. These sales reps have a reputation for focusing on follow-ups after sales and addressing service issues quickly and diligently — this is often called “solution selling.” Also called Reactive Problem Solvers, they respond almost instantly to stakeholders.

How Do You Use the Challenger Sales Model? 

So, you’re interested in trying the Challenger sales approach yourself or introducing it to your sales reps. But how do you implement it in real life? First, you must understand why a Challenger rep is positioned to yield such excellent results.

A Challenger mindset has six defining traits:

  1. Is equipped to give prospects a unique perspective on the market
  2. Excels in two-way communication
  3. Maintains a deep understanding of the customer’s domain
  4. Can lay out actionable strategies for cutting costs and growing revenues
  5. Thrives on talking budgets
  6. Pushes the prospect to make a decision while maintaining control of the conversation

Here are a few quick tips for implementing the Challenger sales model:

Teach Customers Something Valuable 

Learn the ins and outs of the customer’s business so you can provide unique insights. Teaching prospects something valuable requires superb two-way communication skills.

Tailor Your Sales Pitch to the Customer

Ensure you have a deep understanding of the customers' value drivers and know how to identify economic drivers. Then, tailor your sales pitch to align with the needs and objectives of the decision-maker.

Take Control of the Conversation

This step requires you to be comfortable discussing money and pressuring customers; ideally, applying pressure is second nature for you! Take charge of the conversation and the sales process as a whole by highlighting the value of your offering.

Use Poised To Elevate Your Sales Pitches

There’s a reason the Challenger sales methodology is garnering such wide acclaim: It works for a lot of sales reps. Adopting the Challenger sales model is worth considering if you hope to build a team of star performers.

That said, it’s not for every sales rep. Be sure to assess each team member’s communication style, personality, and skill set to determine if this assertive approach is the right one.

If you or your employees need to take your sales communication up a notch, incorporate Poised’s AI-powered communication coach into your sales calls. Potential customers will have no idea you’re getting real-time feedback across a wide range of performance metrics. Get ready to enhance your video calls!


How to Manage Customer Relationships | Business News Daily

How A Challenger Mindset Helps Companies Stay Ahead | Forbes

How to Make a Sales Pitch in 7 Steps + Examples | Fit Small Business

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