Book recommendation: “The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation” by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson

Motivated to learn more about the challenges sellers face today and how organizations can support them to be more successful, I sat down this weekend and read this book that had been recommended to me a while back. Just shortly into the book, I came across so many tweetable statements that I had to make the deliberate decision to stop picking up my mobile phone to tweet but just read the book.

A key take away is that these days sellers need to give the customer a new perspective to look at something from a different angle. This should be done via lots of insights that doesn’t need to be prepared by the seller himself but for example provided by marketing. One example they mentioned is that a printer company probably doesn’t know anything about running a hospital but they likely know much more about information management.

So in essence you need to shift the customer’s focus on challenges to his industry or for his role and then once he agrees map it how your solution is best positioned to help him achieve that. But note, the mapping to your solution should come at the very end. There is a very nice time line graph in the book to illustrate this.

Besides just practical examples, the book also provides the framework necessary to execute the model; incl. some very handy templates of forms and questioners that they or their customers have used to execute these kinds of conversations with their sellers and customers.

It’s a model end to end from what marketing should do for the sellers, but also sales manager, and concludes that the same is applicable to internal facing teams such as HR, IT, and Finance, etc.

This book is a must read for any seller regardless of the product or service you sell, but it’s also a must read for everybody in a senior leadership team as change needs to start at the top if you want it to implement in the most efficient way.

It inspired me to evaluate how Microsoft is doing sales and thus, I’ve got some questions now for our sellers and sales manager to know if they’re aware of some of these resources, if they use it, and of course, what is needed to be changed to make them more helpful.

Some points in the book are challenging to apply for myself when considering how do I differentiate Microsoft towards our competitors and how Microsoft is unique. Knowing some of the answers, it’s not as easy as you think. The book challenges you to investigate your answers with questions asking if our competitor could claim the same? Now, there are some unique points that make Microsoft outstanding to me and if you like you can read my blog post about why I choose to work for Microsoft here.

The reason why I found this challenging for some parts is because of the broad ecosystem Microsoft is offering. There is not one competitor that competes with Microsoft in all fields, thus we have plenty of competitors that only compete with a subset of products or services.

And the messaging obviously needs to change based on what solution you sell. So, I hope I peeked some interest in you to read the book yourself and grow your business!

Written by Dave Kurth
Thriving within my current role as Product Marketing Manager, I am the leader and voice of the Microsoft Azure within the Swiss subsidiary. Views are my own.