How a Challenger Sales Strategy Impacts Organizations and Lead Generation

Author:

Aurelien Mottier
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Episode

66

How a Challenger Sales Strategy Impacts Organizations and Lead Generation

Aurelien Mottier

CEO at Operatix

Bill Bice

CEO at Boomtime

We’ve all heard of the challenger sales strategy — “change the conversation, change the game.” But we invited Bill Bice onto our B2B Revenue Acceleration podcast to give us insights into how the challenger sales works across the organization, combining with the marketing team, to drive dramatic revenue.

Bill started his first company when he was 18. Since then, he’s founded and/or advised 27 different companies.

He doesn’t need a marketer to paint lipstick on his product — his experience speaks for itself. And, he’s taken that experience into action as the CEO of boomtime, a company that specializes in word-of-mouth marketing. But Bill Bice has a message for B2B sales teams: Be consultants. Use the challenger sales methodology.

Here are the highlights from our interview:

The best sales reps are already making their own sales material

Many companies are excellent at creating marketing materials.

What they aren’t great at is creating marketing materials that sales reps actually use.

According to Bill, the best challenger sales reps in organizations often spend about 1/3 of their time creating their own marketing material. While this works for the individual, the organization is missing out on all that thought leadership, and since the information lives with the individuals, it’s not scalable.

Bill thinks there’s a better way.

If entire organizations will dedicate themselves to the challenger sales approach and infuse it into their marketing, it can breathe life into the entire organization, aligning both the sales and marketing functions.

For one, companies are in a far better place to leverage the thought leadership and understanding of their executive team. Plus, they can then mass produce both the challenger sales strategy and the materials that are needed to unify the team under such an approach. Finally, this also gives back the top sales reps their time.

But you can take it even further: If you really embrace the challenger sales methodology, then you hire for it and train for it. “We’ve found tremendous value with every sales team in implementing the challenger sales approach, because what it does it creates sales opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise exist.”

Who can become a challenger sales rep?

I asked Bill who can become a challenger sales rep. He noted the 5 archetypes of sales people found in The Challenger Sale:

The 5 archetypes of sales reps:

  1. The hard worker
  2. The lone wolf 
  3. The relationship builder
  4. The challenger
  5. The problem-solver

Bill said that while the “challenger” actually has its own archetype listed, he believes each of those reps has the ability to use the challenger sales approach. In fact, he actually thinks that it’s more of an approach than a specific type of person.

Position you company as an organization of consultants

The basis of the challenger sale is that you’re teaching your prospect, because you are a subject-matter expert, allowing you to take charge of the conversation. This is extremely helpful to your prospects. When sales reps begin to look at their role as consultants, they shift from a “sales” mentality to an “I can help” mentality.

Often, they may not sell anything at all (at first). Instead, they’re giving advice and providing expertise on areas they have expertise in.

Example of challenger sales rep in action:

We’ve seen the power of this challenger sales approach firsthand here at Operatix.

One of our top sales reps, who consistently uses the challenger sales methodology, recently had an amazing experience while assisting a longtime client of his. This particular client had recently shifted companies. While he had purchased many services from our sales rep before, he was extremely honest when he moved companies — “I won’t be buying anything from you at my new post.”

But, because of their long standing relationship, the contact actually asked for a favor from our rep:

“I know you’re an expert at sales strategy (what we do here at Operatix), and my new role includes managing a sales strategy. Could I pick your brain?”

Our rep obliged, knowing it would never turn into a sell. 

He was wrong. 

He provided plenty of strategy about building a sales team, and spent a good amount of time on it, never thinking it would turn into anything — he was simply being a consultant.

When his sales methodology was provided to the higher-ups, they actually asked if they could bring on the designer of the strategy as a paid consultant because of how thorough the strategy was.

That’s an example of what happens when you start out as a consultant instead of just a sales rep.

left quote
right quote

We’ve found tremendous value with every sales team in implementing the challenger sales approach because it creates sales opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise exist.

Bill Bice

The challenger sale is basically word-of-mouth at scale

Here’s another interesting piece about the challenger sale: 

It’s basically word-of-mouth … at scale.

Here’s how it plays out in practice:

If you continually post thought-provoking content on your LinkedIn network (blogs, podcasts, tips, etc.), then you are constantly attracting and affirming your network through your expertise, pulling others in closer and closer.

You aren’t selling — you’re sharing. 

Each time someone clicks, reads, or listens to you, they’re thinking, “This person is a subject-matter expert.”

If and when they, or someone they know, needs to purchase a related product or service, you will be top of mind.

2 tips for any organization considering making the jump to the challenger sales methodology:

The challenger sale is a long term commitment for an organization

For any organization to be successful with the challenger sales methodology, they have to commit to the approach for the long term. It’s not a quick fix, and Bill says that while there may be some quick wins, he believes the biggest issue most orgs face when attempting to make the jump is that they expect the challenger sales/consultative approach to immediately work.

That’s directly against the foundational idea — you have to choose the consultative route, knowing that it’s a long term game.

Use subject-matter experts for your content

Considering the difficulty involved with creating the massive amount of content needed to generate inside-driven sales, many organizations are tempted to hire copywriters who are experts at writing but not necessarily subject-matter experts.

Nothing against copywriters, but if you hire someone who is a professional writer across a  variety of industries, you’ll potentially be hiring someone who may have just been working with a car dealership last week, and now, you’re spending more of your time educating them then they are writing.

Instead, hire subject-matter experts.

This is an interview with Bill Bice from boomtime.

To hear this interview, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The B2B Revenue Acceleration Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.

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About Operatix

Operatix is a Sales Acceleration company specialized in supporting B2B Software vendors to identify new revenue streams, increase qualified sales pipeline, and accelerate channel development across Europe and North America. Operatix has a wealth of experience in working with the biggest tech players worldwide as well as a multitude of emerging software vendors.

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Channel Transformation

Digital transformation is changing how companies buy and use business solutions, making vendors re-assess the capabilities of their channel ecosystem. With channel dynamics in constant flux, vendors need to be ready to cut ties with partners that don’t share their vision or have connections with the right B2B buyers.

 

Operatix has supported numerous vendors in their path to Channel transformation by assessing current partners and recruiting new partners that are more aligned with their new channel strategy. Once the right partners have been identified, Operatix built scalable outbound sales development programs that accelerated their routes to market.

Inbound Response Management

In a competitive industry like technology every lead counts. Operatix can help you maximize conversion from MQL to SQL and from lead to pipeline, increasing both your revenue and ROI on marketing activities.

Account Identification

Identifying the accounts that are more likely to buy from you is part of our expertise. We will research the market, identify verticals and industries that can benefit from your solution and set up qualified sales engagements for your teams to kick-off the sales process. 

Cold Prospecting

Our team will identify new sales opportunities within the strategic accounts that you haven’t been successful in penetrating through your sales & marketing efforts. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, multitouch approach to connect with prospects, generating qualified sales engagements for your team and ultimately increasing your pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Partner Concierge Service

Our Partner Concierge Service helps vendors accelerate their channel programs, by engaging and nurturing channel partners and supporting them to get to revenue quicker.

Demand Generation

Whether you need to implement a demand generation strategy or get more results out of your existing demand gen engine, Operatix can work alongside your marketing team to yield better results out of your demand generation programs.

Account-based Marketing

An Account-based Marketing strategy is only as successful as the revenue it generates. At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Lead Qualification

If your marketing leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help sieve through leads that need further qualification, so they are ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with.

Account-based Selling

At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Pipeline Generation

Generating Pipeline for our clients is our key-objective. And we do that by using a multi-touch, multi-channel approach to generate qualified sales engagements for our customers’ sales teams.   

Account Intelligence / Deep Dive

Understanding buying centres, hierarchies and relevant personas in strategic accounts is a fundamental step to increase conversion rates. By leveraging account intelligence in a sales conversation your team can tailor their message and provide value to their prospective customer. But sales & marketing teams often struggle to dedicate time and resources to do the deep research and this is where Operatix can help.

DMID – Decision Maker Identification

Finding quality data is an on-going challenge for B2B Tech vendors. The accuracy of data platforms is questionable and that is why Operatix developed a manual process to identify & verify contact details for decision makers within strategic target accounts.

Playbook design

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to get your messaging right, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapt the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

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Sales Playbook Development

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to implementing the correct messaging, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapting the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

Lead Qualification

If your leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help filter through leads that need further qualification, ensuring that they’re ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with and progress through the funnel. 

Partner Portal / Marketing Concierge Service

Vendors often spend thousands of dollars building multifunctional Partner Portals to help channel partners educate their teams, manage opportunities, and create marketing programs. Still, these portals are often underutilized due to lack of bandwidth and capacity from vendors to offer support in enabling their partner community. Operatix, through their Partner Development team, can support your partners to make the best use out of your partner portal, managing the relationship with your partners and helping them set up co-marketing campaigns to drive more revenue for both businesses. 

Marketing & Sales Alignment

The sales development function is often seen as the “glue” that brings sales & marketing teams together. By working as an extension of your teams, Operatix will be your predictable source of pipeline, sales & revenue.

Optimization of MDF

Market Development Funds are an important component of any channel ecosystem, though vendors believe they are not maximizing the return on investment they should be getting from their MDF programs. At Operatix, we build scalable outbound sales development programs that will give you the visibility of return over the invested spend and will provide clear value for your channel partners.

Increase Partner Productivity

The 80/20 rule is still very applicable to the channel, which means that investing in partner productivity should be a priority for vendors looking to grow their businesses. Operatix can increase partner productivity and shorten sales cycles, by identifying ready to engage sales opportunities for your most valued channel partners.

Virtual Channel Account managers

Our VCAM team is responsible for building, maintaining, and managing sound relationships with current and prospective channel partners. They can get involved in opening up new sales conversations as well as closing small businesses up to $ 10k.

Tier 1 & Tier 2 Activation

Whether your business decided for a Tier 1 or Tier 2 distribution model, Operatix can help your channel partners get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements to your channel partners we can accelerate your route to market with tangible and easily measurable results.

Solution Selling Training

Far too often vendors insist on enabling their channel partners to talk about features and technical details of their solutions. Customers don’t buy features; they buy the benefits your solution can bring. Operatix will work with your partner community to train them in articulating your message from a high-level business perspective, enabling them to talk to prospects about the value your solution can bring to their company from a board-level perspective.

Channel Enablement

Enabling your channel partners have measurable wins for your business when done right. Operatix has a proven track record in enabling channel partners from a sales & marketing perspective, providing them the knowledge and tools to successfully pitch your solution and sell the value & benefits of it. 

Partner Recruitment

Recruiting the right Channel Partners is the first step for a successful channel program. Operatix has helped over 350 B2B Software vendors recruit suitable channel partners across EMEA and North America, supporting them to scale and expand their presence in different geographies and verticals. 

Risk/Reward Business Model

To truly work as an extension of our client’s sales & marketing teams, we have also adapted our business models to show how our clients operate, and how their success is measured. With our risk/reward business model your investment is proportional to the results our team delivers.

Sales Qualified Leads

On average, 52.5% of the sales engagements set up by our team progress into a next step in the sale process. That means that 5 out of 10 meetings will progress either into a POC, a Demo or a pipeline opportunity.

Geographical Scale

Trading in different geographical markets not only requires a knowledge of the native language, local rules & policies, but a deeper understanding of the local culture and habits. We have the ability to deliver campaigns in multiple countries with flexible resource allocation. This is through our team of international speakers, who have the ability to sell in 17 different languages across the globe.

Increase Revenue & Decrease Cost

Building an internal sales development team comes with many additional costs and challenges that aren’t always taken into account: recruiting resources, training and enabling them etc. You also need to take into account the need for having the data and tools to make them successful, which in turn requires time, capital and effort. By outsourcing your sales development to Operatix you will see your revenue increasing, while decreasing costs and business risk.

Predictable Pipeline Generation

On average, our clients see a 26X ROI on the programs we deliver. By understanding your revenue targets and sales pipeline gap, we will work on a sales & marketing plan that will deliver tangible results.

Vertical Growth

Entering new industries or launching new product lines? Operatix can accelerate your growth by supporting your go-to-market strategy, and getting your sales teams in front of decision makers in key target accounts.

Reduce Headcount

By outsourcing your sales development and partner programs to Operatix; we reduce headcount and the challenges that come with managing people, technologies, and processes. We take care of your sales development, so you can focus on what matters the most: growing your business.

Revenue Acceleration

Operatix helps your business get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements for your direct sales team (to kick-off new sales cycles), or by accelerating the growth of your channel partners, our focus remains on delivering tangible results for your business. 

Persona-based Selling

Operatix team will design specifically tailored messages to influence the different levels of decision makers in the sales process, tailoring the communication according to each job function. Our focus is to sell the value of your solution from a business perspective, not its features.    

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