Are you a Challenger?
Updated: Sep 15
The Challenger Sale:
"A Challenger is defined by the ability to do three things: teach, tailor, and take control."
"Your solution isn't the subject of your teaching but the natural outgrowth of your teaching."
"Address each customer and tailor your presentation or discussion to focus on individual ideas and pains."
"Taking control is all about creating constructive tension."
I read this book during a 2-year hiatus I took from the hair biz. I worked for an awesome boutique Headhunting Firm in Irvine, and I'll forever use the immense knowledge I learned there, throughout the rest of my career. This book is geared more towards complex business to business sales techniques, but I feel it works well in understanding your sales style. In the hair game, we sell our services, products, even ourselves. How can we do that successfully?
The 5 Types of Sales Personalities
1. The Relationship Builder
Classic consultative rep
Builds advocates internally
Creates relationships with prospects
Relationship Builders focus on developing strong personal and professional relationships throughout the customer organization.
These sellers are very generous with their time, do everything they can to meet customers' needs, and work diligently to resolve any tensions that arise in the commercial relationship. Ironically, while most Sales programs are designed to create and encourage Relationship Builders, it is the least effective of all of them.
2. The Reactive Problem Solver
Reliably responds to stakeholders
Ensures all problems are solved
Reactive Problem Solvers are considered highly reliable and detail-oriented from the customers' perspective. They are known for their focus on post-Sales follow-ups to ensure that service issues are addressed and solved quickly and thoroughly.
3. The Hard Worker
Doesn't give up easily
Interested in feedback and personal development
Hard Workers are the members of your team that show up early, stay late, and always go the extra mile. These Salespeople can make more call in an hour and meet with more prospects in a week than anyone else on your team. The hustle never stops for hard workers.
4. The Lone Wolf
Follows own instincts
Delivers results, but difficult to manage
Lone Wolves are deeply self-confident and have a natural ability to succeed on their own instincts. They break rules, are hard to manage, and do things their way or no way at all. They are the least common profile of all Salespeople, but they are the second most common among top-performing Salespeople.
5. The Challenger
A different view of the world
Loves to debate and push customer
Strong understanding of customers' business
Challengers use their deep understanding of their customers' business to challenge their thinking and maintain control of the Sales conversation. Challengers aren't afraid of expressing controversial views and are assertive with everyone they communicate with. Among top-performing Salespeople, Challengers are most common.
So the biggest thing that resonated with me when I read this book is a statement from a woman in marketing who commented that the “Challenger” model isn’t applicable to only sales, it can be taught and utilized throughout an organization (including salons). It is a mindset not an action. People are complex. It was very enlightening reading this book and reflecting on 100% of what we discuss as sales cultures, client relationships, teaching vs selling, providing value, educational vs overbearing, as well as the “value” you can provide a customer.
TEACH: We are always trying to provide value, market/industry knowledge, as well as explaining what makes our services or products different. How do we promise/teach a customer that what we offer is more than the average barber or stylist. What are we teaching them about themselves? Their hair, their grooming routine, the styling aids they use? What additional value are we creating for ourselves?
TAILOR: We differentiate a product sale or a service upgrade depending on which client you are speaking too. I wouldn’t necessarily offer a straight razor shave to guy with a beard unless he asked to shave it off. I also would bring up any thinning or hair loss I've noticed with clients, and offer any retail solutions I had. Making sure that you gauge your relationship with your client, and what you know are their potential triggers in purchasing. Why are they in need of, what are we provide specifically, and how can you address their individual needs. We are chameleons as hairdressers. We adapt and adjust to each and every personality in our chair. No two clients are the same.
TAKE CONTROL: Clients let us know what they are looking for and it is our job to, as best as possible, “teach” them why we can provide that for them. We need to take control of managing client expectations since we are the ones that touch, see, feel, and create with them as our medium. Taking control applies to not only to sales, but with your career as well. We need to be assertive, not “pushy” when trying to get what we need on our end; like that raise or promotion at work. Have you succeeded in hitting company targets, retail goals, client retention ratings, and you need to make sure your manager realizes you've been going the mile. Be a "Challenger".
I have to admit that I felt like I fell into all five sales profile categories. I am a hard worker, I love building relationships, and I can’t move on if I haven’t resolved an issue- Problem Solver. I am kind of a lone Wolf in my independence and sometimes stubbornness, and finally a Challenger. I feel like I fall partially into this category because I do view things different than most, love to debate and can push when I need to. I think I fall short in my full understanding sometimes of how to simplify my explanations. I tend to be an over explainer. I give unnecessary features and benefits, and can potentially overwhelm a client or buyer by being too informative. I fall into the relationship builder category, where I don’t want to potentially damage my relationship with the buyer/client and don’t always push for a close in the sale. We need to be confident in our ability, and fully believe I have something people want and need. I need to step up my due diligence in acumen of how to represent that ideology and fully implement my Challenger sales ability to make myself a high achiever.