Many of our ABM Done Right Podcast listeners know that we love the Challenger Sale and believe that it’s no longer just a sales methodology and framework. It’s a GTM framework for sales, marketing and customer success teams to improve their interactions and the experiences they deliver to the human buyers in the high-value accounts that they want to win, protect and expand. In the podcast below, Matt Dixon (Founding Partner at DCM Insights, frequent contributor to Harvard Business Review and Wall Street Journal best-selling author of The Challenger Sale, The Effortless Experience, The Challenger Customer and The JOLT Effect) shares how win against the status quo and indecisiveness.
Here Are the Key Thoughts, Ideas, and Lessons Learned From This Podcast with Matt Dixon:
- Challenger is about organizational capability, not just about individual sales skills. While The Challenger Sales was written purposely for salespeople and accidentally for marketers — The Challenger Sale, ABM, and account-based selling go hand-in-hand as Challenger is about tailoring for relevance, teaching for differentiation against competitors and the status quo, and taking control of the struggling moments that sit at the heart of every deal – the moments that need to be listened to, understood, catered to, reframed and solved. And, ABM is not about accounts. It’s about the human buyers in the accounts we want to win, protect, and expand, so we need to make sure we have the right, more relevant and personal interactions and deliver the right experiences across the buyer’s journey and customer lifecycle to accelerate accounts to revenue at a higher ACV and to drive ARR, GRR and NRR growth. It’s marketing that takes center stage and is the key function that makes the Challenger motion possible, whether it’s for net new, ABM, or retention/expansion.
- At the core, Challenger is about delivering commercial insight that reframes the prospect’s or customer’s understanding of their needs. It’s a very “human” outreach that speaks to what should be keeping the prospect up at night vs. generalized pain points that keep generalized audiences up at night. It is not the salesperson’s responsibility to come up with those commercial insights (which should be driven by account intelligence) and disseminate it across all touchpoints.
- Many teams starting ABM will define their ICP and jump into buying tech – but they are not changing GTM motions, interactions, and experiences. They are doing targeted demand gen – and then they struggle with high-value accounts going dark and disengaging. They lose high-value deals to legacy platforms. The rate of accounts going radio silent is increasing rapidly, and it’s not just the economy. In fact, based on research that Matt and his team completed shows that 40-60% of the average salesperson’s qualified opportunities will eventually be lost to no decision. The 4 key reasons for this are — a lack of relevance (content and messaging is not resonating as it doesn’t tell the account’s specific story), they’re targeting the wrong people – and engaging mobilizers that can rally teams around big ideas that can move the company forward, they are not influencing the internal conversations that are happening which involve blockers that are in love with the status quo, and lastly, because buyers are in a state of indecision due to their fear of failure. They are stuck in the wasteland between intent and action as their minds are swirling with all the things that can go wrong. We need to create an environment and an experience where the buyers are uncomfortable with their current state but also comfortable in making a decision.
- When teams think about campaigns, content, and messaging to their future and existing customers – they slip into the zone where we need to be front and center, disseminating thought leadership and being top of mind. They wind up sending out content that is confirmatory and shows prospects that they’re smart, up to date on the latest issues and trends, and they’re a savvy, knowledgeable organization. But it doesn’t sell and market change – and it doesn’t show future and existing customers that they are missing something. The content speaks to the things that prospects already know about what’s keeping them up at night vs. what should be keeping buyers up at night. They miss the commercial insight that’s needed to change the buyer’s thoughts on their specific approach, process, gaps, and impacts. They miss the commercial insight that’s needed to uncover the specific big risks that the buyers have not thought about before and unseen opportunities. It misses the commercial insight that’s needed to cut through the thought leadership noise because it’s provocative, it’s relevant, and it tells the buyers their story vs. a generalized industry story. It misses the commercial insights takes prospects by their lapels and shakes them out of their comfort zone. It misses the commercial insights that are hard to ignore.
- Buyers that are indecisive are concerned with 3 key areas:
- Have they configured this in the right way and said “yes” to the right things and “no” to the wrong things or will I have egg on my face because I made the wrong choice?
- Have I done enough homework and research? There is so much content out there that they can’t consume enough – but they feel that they need to because teams are not arming buyers with the content that provides a clear means for evaluating trade-offs or moving forward with sufficient certainty to justify an expensive, potentially disruptive purchase. Gartner’s research shows that as customers struggle to make sense of all the low and high-quality information that is pushed out, they are significantly more likely to settle for a course of action that is smaller or less disruptive than originally planned – if they take action at all.
- There is outcome uncertainty as there is a believability gap between what GTM teams claim that their product or solution can do and the customer’s confidence that the promised outcomes will, in fact, come true.
- To overcome indecision, GTM teams need to judge the level and source of indecision, which can be different across the buying committee, offer your personal recommendations as buyers are looking for guidance – not more options, limit the exploration, and take risk off the table.
Here Are 2 Additional Podcasts You Will Want to Listen To:
Podcast with Jennifer Allen and Michael Randazzo (former Challenger leaders) on how to win with status accounts using ABM and Challenger:
Podcast with Spencer Wixom — a good friend of Matt’s, the former SVP of Sales and Marketing for Challenger and the current CEO at The Brooks Group:
See The Impact ABM and Challenger Can Have on Your ARR, GRR and NRR: