Scaling Challenger Sales with Cuvama

The Challenger Sale

The Challenger Sale, along with MEDDPICC, is one of the most popular value selling techniques. It is based on research of 6,000 Sales participants across 90 companies, characterizing Salespeople into five buckets:

  1. The Hard Worker
  2. The Challenger
  3. The Relationship Builder
  4. The Lone Wolf
  5. The Reactive Problem Solver

The research concludes that Challengers are top performers by a significant margin (40% of all high performers); that margin increases in complex sales to 50%.

There are three core characteristics of a Challenger Salesperson, below we’ll outline each, explore the realities & difficulties of excelling in them, and illustrate how Cuvama helps turn theoretical excellence into practical success.

1. Teach for Differentiation

Customers place stronger value on reps’ teaching skills than on their discovery skills. Great questions aren’t enough; you must have great insights.

A Challenger is able to teach for differentiation (i.e. help a customer think differently about their business) because they know the individual customer’s value and economic drivers. The critical element is not just teaching, but commercial teaching – ensuring that your teaching efforts ultimately lead to your solution’s unique strengths. Oh, and you need to do all this without talking about your solution, i.e. by just having a business conversation.

The Reality

Expecting a rep to know every potential economic and value driver for each prospect they speak to is a tall order.

For simplicity let’s just call these drivers business challenges and desired outcomes. Expecting reps to know all the challenges and desired outcomes in the heat of the moment on a sales call is nearly impossible. Couple that with trying to reign reps in from jumping into heavy monologues about their solution as soon as they get the first sniff of ‘pain’, and you can see why teaching for differentiation is great in theory but tough to execute.

How Cuvama Helps

Cuvama acts as your reps’ second brain.

It is configured with all the typical business challenges and value drivers your customers are likely to face (we do this for you through a couple of quick workshops and some guided homework). Cuvama enables any BDR or Sales Rep to sound like an expert in the buyer’s industry/department/role by leading with a hypothesis of their needs:

Cuvama cuts right to the chase, removing the protracted ping-pong discovery that often occurs and establishing reps as someone worth talking to. 

It does this all whilst leading the prospect towards business outcomes that your solution delivers (without ever having to mention any features and functions!)

An example of Cuama’s tool used for PayrollNow.

2. Tailor for Resonance

The Challenger Sale describes tailoring at its best when ‘a rep will be speaking to the customer in their own language about how to better achieve the outcomes they care about most’.

It also cites a case study where Solae, a soy-based food ingredients manufacturer, created tailored customer outcome cards (or ‘cheat sheets’) to help sales reps uncover problems and link them to customers’ desired outcomes. These cheat sheets also allowed managers to scale tailoring across the organization.

The Reality

For rock star reps tailoring comes naturally. For mere mortal sellers, it’s a tough skill to master, especially if you don’t have years of industry-specific experience.

Often Marketing will help tailor messaging at industry levels, but that only goes so far. What happens after the first 10 minutes of a sales call once you’ve delivered your marketing-scripted ‘Industry Insights’?

How Cuvama Helps

Cuvama is a dynamic version of your cheat sheets, on steroids.

It’s not a script, it’s a set of conversational guidelines (with some hidden mappings of many business challenges to many desired outcomes in the background). Our value consultant ninjas have lived these gnarly mappings for decades and know how to streamline and codify even the most complex value propositions into something your average sales rep can use.

An example of Cuama’s tool used for PayrollNow.

The impact of this is that reps are able to confidently lead with a hypothesis of a customer’s challenges. 

But it doesn’t stop there. Once the customer has agreed to specific problems, Cuvama then enables reps to link those to desired outcomes. In enables the Seller and Buyer to collaboratively agree on the value that is going to be created. Cuvama essentially builds consensus in one concise digital record. Genuis, no?

3. Take Control

In the Challenger Sale, taking control doesn’t mean being pushy and playing hardball in final negotiations. It means taking the lead and guiding customer discussions with a specific end in mind.

In today’s world there has been a rise of the consensus-based sale. Rarely is one individual willing to stick their neck out to risk buying a solution, reps need to gain widespread support within a buying organization.

Navigating all this and building consensus across multiple stakeholders can be arduous. So Challengers make it easier for the buyer to buy by reducing the uncertainty on both sides; they lead and simplify.

The Reality

The Challenger Sale book itself states this is the one pillar which sales leaders believe is more nature than nurture.

Can you really teach a rep to be more assertive? The answer is yes: “with the right tools, training, coaching you can likely equip many of your reps who minor in challenging to act more like Challengers when they’re in front of a customer”

The right tools I hear you say? Well, you’re in luck…

How Cuvama Helps

Challenger states that when you equip reps to focus on the importance of clarity of direction, and how to create real value within the sales process, it creates a powerful proxy for assertiveness.

Cuvama is that powerful proxy, your Sat Nav on a rainy day, your sonar out at sea. It enables any rep to take control in three ways:

  • Making an instant impact (or ‘hit them right between the eyes in the first 5mins’) by leading with a strong hypothesis of the customer’s challenges AND desired outcomes.
  • Retaining control throughout, by outlining a structured value-discovery process that is designed to focus on the customer’s success. Trust us, they’ll appreciate this differentiated approach way more than the usual open-ended awkward discovery dance.
  • Leading the narrative, by exploring challenges and outcomes that are aligned to your solution’s strengths.

Cuvama leads both the Seller and Buyer down a structured path throughout the sales cycle, starting with uncovering pain and ending with quantifying value.

Value Selling Tool: Challenge to KPI

The theory is easy, implementation is hard

There’s no doubt the Challenger Sale is effective. But understanding the value of the methodology is much easier than actually implementing it across a team of sales reps with varying abilities, personalities and selling styles.

"The key to implementation is to make the new way of selling as easy to adopt as possible in real life sales conversations"

Alex Smith, CO-Founder, Cuvama

No matter how many training sessions you hold to educate sellers as to why being a Challenger is important, there will only be widespread adoption if reps can apply it easily and consistently in real sales conversations.

That’s where Cuvama comes in. Cuvama provides the information, structure and confidence to reps, enabling them to unlock their true inner Challenger. Best of all, we have proof it works.

Sales teams using Cuvama are seeing 2x win rates, 43% increase in deal size, and a 30% decrease in sales cycle length.

Become a Challenger with Cuvama

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