EPISODE 316: Spencer Wixom Shares Insights on How the Challenger Sales Approach Could Transform Your 2021 Sales Efforts

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the Sales Game Changers LIVE Webinar sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales and hosted by Fred Diamond on October 14, 2020. It featured Challenger Inc. Leader Spencer Wixom.]

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EPISODE 316: Spencer Wixom Shares Insights on How the Challenger Sales Approach Could Transform Your 2021 Sales Efforts

SPENCER’S TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “What is the quality of experience we’re trying to have with customers? Do I have a message that’s at the fingertips of my sellers and they’re capable of delivering it and we can engage with it and measure it and know that it’s being delivered properly? Then are we bringing the right mindset to help those customers come to a decision? Are we doing research before our conversations? Are we setting proper expectations and next steps? There’s a lot of tactics here, there’s a mindset change, there’s a tool set. If you can just put all of the pieces together and just keep working at it, you can solve this. The great part here is yes, it’s kind of scary but it also presents an opportunity because you can do what other people aren’t doing and you’ll stand out in the eyes of your customer and they will reward you with business.”

Fred Diamond: First of all, give us the definition of Challenger Sale. A lot of people might know what it is but get us caught up, what does it mean? Then let’s get right to it.

Spencer Wixom: First of all, it’s a pleasure to be on the show, I really appreciate the invitation and I appreciate the background that you gave about the Challenger and the various books. Back to Neil Rackham days, those were fun memories of those days. I’ve been a part of this Challenger journey ever since the original publication of those books and the original research that was done, believe it or not, all the way back in 2008, 2009. If you remember what was going on back then, we had this global financial crisis, we had sales leaders, senior executives the world over, large and small organizations looking at their salespeople and saying, “I’ve got a bunch of people who performed well in the past in previous years who aren’t performing well now. What do I do about that?” Also, strangely we’ve got this small group of individuals who appear to be performing well in spite of the environment and I think we’re seeing the same thing right now. That’s the really interesting thing about 2020, you look at 2008 and I actually did a webinar with Matt Dixon a few months ago when this whole COVID thing hit and we talked about that specifically, some of the parallels between what we saw in 2008 and what we’re seeing today.

Basically what we saw when we did the research, Challenger started as a research study, it started as a question. The questions were multiple, they were #1, what are buyers looking for from sellers particularly in a complex environment that will win loyalty for those sellers? What makes for an experience that buyers want to have in a sales conversation, sales environment? Then once we identified what that experience looked like in the mind of buyers we then went out to sellers and we had their leaders evaluate sellers. This was probably the biggest study of the time that had ever been done of B-to-B sellers, it started with a population of about 10,000, we’ve since expanded it to about 26,000 as we’ve done the research in an ongoing basis. We’ve had those sales leaders look at their individual contributors and evaluate them among a number of different criteria and then from that criteria there were various profiles that emerged: the hard worker, the lone wolf, the relationship builder and the challenger.

What we found that the challengers did particularly well if you want to crystalize it – and I’ll talk a bit more about this as we go on – is they teach effectively; they have a powerful commercial insight focused on the customer’s business and they bring that insight to the customer.

They can tailor that insight effectively to various members of the stakeholder buying group and that customer, and then they know how to take control of that complex buying journey that group goes through being prescriptive, intervening in the right way, building constructive tension in the right way to move those opportunities forward to a close. As an approach or as a philosophy, Challenger is having the right message, delivering that right message with the right set of skills and understanding or noticing whether or not you have the right customer/stakeholder you’re delivering that message to.

Fred Diamond: It’s interesting to see how it’s evolved and I really love the analogy that you just made, the sales professionals that you saw that were being successful back during some of the economic challenges of late 2000s and today because we’re seeing that too. We’re doing webinars every single day, we have corporate members at the IES and we’re talking to sales leaders about who’s performing well and in some cases, the sales professionals that they might not have thought were going to be successful are actually being very successful. Part of the reason for that is because they have a deep understanding of where the customer is so it’s not just about the technique and about asking the right questions, it’s about understanding where the customer is right now.

We talk about this a lot on the webinars we do that a lot of times we bring in like a Matt or a sales trainer or somebody and we’re teaching some skills on how you could be good at sales in the future if you apply these things that we’re teaching you. Right now, however because every customer is in a similar situation trying to get out of COVID, trying to get out of the economic challenges that have been posed by COVID, a seller needs to really understand what the customer needs now. By doing that, they have to understand their business and they have to understand what’s driving them right now and it requires research, requires tools, requires a deep understanding of where the customer is. Not every sales rep is tuned for that.

Spencer Wixom: First of all, people will say, “We need virtual selling in today’s environment, help us do virtual selling.” Then when they realize that virtual selling is basically like traditional selling just maybe in a different environment, they say, “Okay, we’ve got to go back to fundamentals.” The point I would make that I’m discovering as we continue to do research both about sellers and about buyers, fundamentals are #1 what’s important to buyers. It doesn’t matter to have sales fundamentals independent of what’s important for buyers to see as part of the experience and #2, fundamentals need to be what differentiates you from other sellers who are out there. Those are really the two axes and we’ll talk about this a little bit more when we get into some of the more recent research we’ve done, but you need to think about your fundamentals that way. What’s important to the buyers I’m selling to and what will differentiate me in their eyes vis-a-vis other experiences they’re having with other sellers.

Fred Diamond: Let’s get to it, we have a lot to cover here. We’re digging it, man, let’s go.

Spencer Wixom: What I want to talk about today is really an update to what you were saying earlier, Fred. We had this original research study done back in 2008, how do things look today? What are some of the things that are important? One of the things we’re always keen to do in Challenger is update fresh in that research and we’re looking both at buyers because they’re critically important, the perspective of buyers is critically important and we’re looking at sellers and what seller behavior is. As I walk through some of this, what I want to share with everybody today is both a buyer perspective and a seller perspective and let’s talk about how they come together.

First of all, we’re in this virtual environment so let’s take a look very tactically at what kind of tool set our sellers are using. When I talk about tool set here I’m talking specifically about the technologies that we’re using to engage buyers in the current environment. This is based on some seller research we did recently in 2020 post-COVID and what we looked at is across a technology tool set that sellers use. What were the tools that were most highly rated as effective by sellers and what was the highest percentage utilizing these tools or these technologies? That’s the horizontal axis. The vertical axis is how effective each of the tools are, the horizontal axis is the percentage of sellers utilizing the tools. What you’re looking for is stuff that’s top right, everybody is using it, it’s most effective and it’s no big surprise the big three up there, video conferencing has become almost universal.

What’s interesting is people are still using clearly the phone and the email and I think what this tells us is it’s important to have some balance of communication mediums virtually with your folks. Not everything has to be a Zoom conference, you can pick up the phone and call somebody directly. You can do a lot of good communication and sharing of information over email as well so I think you want to find some balance there. What I think is interesting is as you move outward from there, you start to see some horizons that organizations are using to engage. For example, recorded video is big. Pre-recording a video, sharing that with my customers via email, via some other platform is really big and it’s a really effective way to get your point across in a personalized way. What’s interesting right below that is you’ve got your customer engagement platforms, you can also think about those, the sales enablement platforms and sales engagement platforms. These are the high spots, the show pads, the size mix on the customer engagement side, the outreach, the sales loft on the sales engagement side.

A lot of organizations using those to improve efficiency, to improve quality of content distribution, measurements of content looking at how customers are consuming it. We’ve been seeing some significant performance benefits for organizations using both of these. If your organization hasn’t moved into that frontier yet, it’s a great way to improve the quality of the message that you’re delivering to customers, how you can put content at the fingertips of your sellers and improving the efficiency of activity.

Fred Diamond: Spencer, a couple people are asking if they can get access to this slide, is this available on the Challenger website somewhere or can we make this available?

Spencer Wixom: It’s a great question, this slide is embedded in what we call our poll survey, if you go to challengerinc.com to our blog you’ll see a series of blogs with a company in infographics. We’ve done 10 of these poll surveys looking at everything from time span to 2021 sales kick-off, data to tool use to communication techniques. I highly recommend you consume that, if you want to get a first look at it when it comes out, just follow us on LinkedIn.

Fred Diamond: Thanks, Jill, for that question.

Spencer Wixom: What’s interesting here is a couple of other things I’ll call out. You can see conversational intelligence as a frontier, social media outreach, sales intelligence tools, thinking about intent marketing, things like that that organizations are using there. I’ll highlight that orange bubble in the bottom left, what we found really interesting is the organizations that said their outreach strategy, their engagement strategy with customers was very effective reported utilizing a larger number of these tools than those who didn’t. The overall point that I’m going to make here is a lot of these tools fit together really well like pieces in a puzzle. If you think about what your overall strategy is for improving your salespeople and helping them be as effective as possible, you’ve got to put content right in front of them and help them learn and strengthen the delivery of that content.

A sales enablement platform will help you do that. You’ve got to measure the efficacy of prospecting and all of the activity that’s happening, a sales engagement platform will help you do that. If you want to measure the actual application of skills and content and a customer’s reaction, a conversational intelligence tool will help you do that. You can knit a lot of these different technologies together into a cohesive strategy and that’s what I think organizations need to be thinking about. Often times I think they’re propositioned by salespeople about these platforms piece by piece, what you want to do is have a cohesive strategy. Think about how they all fit together and how they develop people to deliver a powerful experience and then you can make your decisions based on that.

Fred Diamond: You mentioned social media outreach, a question comes in here from Lou and Lou is in Chicago. Lou wants to know, “Is there any social media besides LinkedIn that you’re finding Challenger sellers using?” We don’t want to go too deep into LinkedIn unless you want to but are Challenger sellers today using Twitter, are they using WhatsApp or anything besides LinkedIn or is it pretty much LinkedIn in the corporate B to B enterprise space that you guys do most of your research?

Spencer Wixom: We’re doing most of our research on LinkedIn and I can’t speak authoritatively to some of the other mediums, I know a lot of people in some industries are using Twitter effectively. Beyond that, I can’t really speak that authoritatively. What I do find interesting about LinkedIn is it can create an industry-specific echo chamber and if you’re a company that’s selling cross-industry, what you need to make sure is that you’re putting your content on LinkedIn in the communities and the conversations that are focused on particular industries. That’s one of the things we found very interesting recently as we’ve looked at it is most likely, the greatest number of your followers on LinkedIn are people in your same industry so you need to figure out how to be planting your content in the industry conversations of the people you’re selling to.

Fred Diamond: I have a general question here, this has come up over the last 6 months in the virtual world and it’s come up on a couple of the different webinars that we’ve done. There seems to be a divide and we’ve noticed this over the last couple of years, I’m just curious on how your data fits in with this where the top-tier of sales professionals – this goes into what you just mentioned – are the ones that are deep into the vertical, the ones that have been selling to a vertical for 20, 30 years or maybe even less than that but have quickly become part of it, be it transportation, financial services, public sector. At the bottom level, the BDR-ish, the people getting into that whole appointment setting space and the people in the middle are getting flushed out. Are you seeing that now because of the virtual nature where there’s less opportunity to meet? And like we mentioned in the very beginning, you have to come to the customer with solutions as compared to, “Can we discuss some of your challenges?”. We know what the challenges are, every sales professional right now on the planet is dealing with helping your customer get out of COVID, helping your customer rebound their business. Otherwise, there’s no need for them to be talking to you besides, “Nice to hear from you again.

Spencer Wixom: That’s absolutely right and I’ll share this a little bit later, we’ve got some actual 2020 data on this that was quite scary when we looked at it. Just to preface that to react to the question that you just raised, it’s not an ‘or’ in the way you approach customers, it’s an ‘and’. By that, I mean you need to come to customers with a point of view that is tailored to their industry and make it relevant and specific to the world they’re operating in. That means you’ve got to uncover something for them that’s a struggling moment, something that’s missing in the way they’re thinking and you need to show them or demonstrate to them the magnitude of that change, the magnitude of that pain point. That’s going to motivate them to action and you have to connect it effectively to the solution that you’re bringing, it’s not an ‘or’ equation.

You have to have a message, an insight that has those three elements. Just to set the stage for all of this, the biggest thing that’s different between 2017 to 2019 and 2020 is 2017 to 2019, a lot of buyers were buying, a lot of buying groups in complex environments were buying almost in spite of the sellers who were selling to them because they had budget, they had a thing they needed to solve, they had various options for solving it. They were going to probably do something or take some action. Now they may only buy because of the sellers who call on them, because of the message you bring. That makes the gravity of having that message be right and having it have all of the elements that I just talked about much greater.

Fred Diamond: That’s probably one of the most fascinating points that we’ve heard on the daily webinars that we’re doing every single day is the impact that a seller can really have on a customer right now. I think you really clarified it crisply, we all get these LinkedIn emails, “I provide this type of a service, can I get 15 minutes of your time?” and there’s no value. Imagine if you’re doing that to the guy or the lady who’s CFO at some healthcare entity or financial services that are all being challenged? There’s an opportunity for you to take your game to the next level right now and I think you’re going to keep spelling that out as we move a little further along.

Spencer Wixom: We’ve talked about tools a little bit, needing to have a strong virtual tool set and those who are performing effectively have knit all of those different tools together for a coherence strategy. Let’s jump into communication technique, this is really interesting here. We looked at about a hundred different organizations for this particular study and we had them evaluate the effectiveness of their outreach based on all of these different communication techniques. Some were somewhat effective at doing that and some were very effective at doing that and then we looked at the delta in each of these communication techniques. Which communication techniques were the organizations that were very effective emphasizing more than those that rated themselves as somewhat effective? There are a couple that stand out, first of all at the top of the page here, spend time understanding how the customer is doing personally, having good social grace.

Everyone is capable of doing that in today’s environment, it’s not to say it’s a bad thing to do but it’s not something that’s going to differentiate you. Of course be empathetic and personal with people, but don’t expect that to make the difference in your sales conversation. Let’s look at some of the things that do make a difference and here’s where I challenge people’s thinking a little bit, because I think a lot of people are thinking it’s all about how effective my presentation is virtually. It’s more how effective your engagement is virtually, those organizations that had a more effective outreach ask more powerful questions by a 12% delta, they make more use of silence to allow response in two-way dialogue and they ask for next steps, in a very detailed way they plan the next interaction. Those are the ones that really stand out, then you’ve got things like they acknowledge the current situation, that builds credibility, “I understand how your business is doing today, let me demonstrate that to you by having done my homework, having done my research.” They reestablish common ground with the customer. You need to bring this commercial insight but you also need to ask powerful questions around it to see how it resonates with the customer and you need to allow them that space to respond. Sometimes we’re hyper-afraid of moments of silence and gaps in communication in a virtual setting because we think we’ll lose people’s attention, but we have to allow for that because that’s how constructive tension builds and that gives people the space and the breathing room to consider the ideas we brought.

Fred Diamond: That’s a great point, we had a guest on the Optimal Sales Mindset webinar about 6 weeks ago, his name is Nimit Bhatt and his company is called memoryBlue, you probably know those guys. They do a million phone calls a year and he dispelled some myths that people need to know about prospecting. One of them was that you need to rush into the call, a lot of people think that, “I only got 15 seconds to talk to this guy” and he said they found in their data that you don’t have 15 seconds if it’s something that’s salient and important right now for the customer and customer’s dealing. I love what you’re saying there, we’ve also had some other guests like Julie Hansen – did you ever come across her?

Spencer Wixom: I’m familiar with the name, yes.

Fred Diamond: She’s an expert on ‘speaking to the dot’ and how to present yourself. It’s important stuff that needs to be considered as compared to ways not to be there but you’re absolutely right, it still goes back to where the customer is in their journey right now and how you’re providing that value. We talk about value all the time, is that a word that you guys use a lot as well? Obviously professional selling goes back to the concept that you’re providing value but in your vernacular does ‘value creation’ come up as often as we say it on the webinars?

Spencer Wixom: It does, I think what we have to do is define what that value in the experience is and I’ll jump into that right now, but I wanted to react to what you just said there, Fred, because I think it’s an interesting point. I think we look at dialogue or engagement with customers particularly in a virtual selling like a game of ping-pong where we’re trying to put as much spin and speed on the ball as possible and then our customer or prospect is trying to put as much spin and speed on the ball back. It becomes this competition for communication share and it has that feeling of aggression in competition to it. One thing that really helps me is to try to have a different visual mindset of what’s going on and I like to think about it as like you’re in an art museum and you’re standing next to this prospect or this customer and you’re both looking at a work of art and discussing what it is that you see up there on the wall.

Think about the difference in speed, in intensity in a conversation like that, you allow some time to just look at the artwork and appreciate it and then share your thoughts and comments about it, he or she shares his or her thoughts and comments about it. We can have those types of conversations virtually with people if we #1, put an interesting piece of art up on the wall for us both to look at and then manage the flow or the cadence of that conversation accordingly. Just because that’s the flow and cadence of the conversation doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to have strong engagement and even some constructive tension in it, but we’re not pushing hard for that.

Fred Diamond: It keeps coming back to what your slide is going to be talking about right now. The buyers have real specific challenges right now, real life-threatening, company-facing challenges and I don’t just mean a family who owns a restaurant, like big companies right now, the Disney’s of the world, companies that many people watching today’s webinar have sold to over the years. One joke I like to make is – this isn’t a joke, this was something that happened three weeks into the pandemic – one of my sales reps who’s a member of the Institute asked me if I knew of anyone who needed two tons of popcorn because his customer was movie theaters and they were closing. AMC is still talking about closing down. For the first time in a long time, sellers are dealing with customers with huge challenges and they can’t be taken lightly. I’m interested in what you’re going to be talking about here about what they value most to give us some insight. Let’s get back to what buyers value most right now, we’ve been talking about this over the whole webinar and sales professionals need to understand this.

Spencer Wixom: We originally did some research on this in 2018-2019 and this goes back to that thing I was talking about with sales fundamentals. What’s most important in sales fundamentals is #1, what’s most important to the buyer and #2, what will differentiate you as a seller. These are the two axes of our chart here, the vertical axis is each of these different skills or characteristics that are labelled here are graphed vertically according to the importance to the buyer. Then they’re graphed horizontally around the buyer’s rating of a seller’s capability to deliver that skill or the frequency in capability with which they deliver it. What you’re looking for here if you really want to differentiate yourself, if you really want to have the best fundamentals with customers, you’re looking for the skills or characteristics that are highest up and furthest to the left.

Look at what some of these are, #1 demonstrate unique insight. If I can bring a perspective that teaches that customer something new about his or her business, that’s going to be most important to that buyer, that’s what they want, and that’s going to most differentiate you from other sellers because it’s the hardest thing for sellers to do. You want to run at the things that are hardest to do because those are what are going to differentiate you. #2, helps that buyer come to a decision, increases ease, reduces complexity in the buying journey. Buying journeys are very difficult for organizations to do with 11 stakeholders on average, dysfunction entering in at about 37% of the way through the process, it’s hard to do. You need to be a presence of ease and help in that buying journey. Works and understands and addresses the various stakeholder interests, you can tailor your message to the various stakeholders involved because these are diverse buying groups.

Help and build support across the organization, arm your mobilizer and the customer’s organization with the information he or she needs to build consensus cross-function. Make it easy for them to make a purchase, don’t muck it up with terms and conditions or inflexibility and provide the right information at the right time through the process. Those are the top 6 there, but what’s interesting if you apply this to those Challenger themes or the Challenger approach as we said, teaching is critically important, it’s right up there at the top, most important to buyers. You see some tailoring in here particularly tailoring to the various stakeholders’ needs. Take control – the interesting thing about taking control here is everybody has gotten pretty good at doing these things, these are mid-funnel hygiene things but they’re still important to buyers. What I think is interesting here is this idea of constructive tension.

These are the fundamental pillars of Challenger: teach, tailor, take control, constructive tension. You might wonder why these are so low on the importance scale with buyers, it’s because buyers aren’t going to say, “What I want is a tense conversation.” Buyers want a friendly comfortable conversation, what they need is a little bit of tension to motivate them to action, they need to feel the struggle, they need to understand and appreciate the pain inherent in their status quo behavior, otherwise they will not have the motivation to change their behavior. There’s a lot of behavioral science research recently about this that talks about that, I’m thinking specifically of Jonah Berger’s book, The Catalyst where he says the value of the change needs to be 2.5 times greater than status quo for somebody to be motivated to take action. You have to make status quo look really bad and really uncomfortable to motivate people away from status quo.

Fred Diamond: I have a quick question for you and this could take us down another huge tangent that I don’t want to go, so just a very basic question. We’re talking a lot about sellers today but how has the buying process evolved over the last couple months? What I should say is where we’re right now, has the virtual world made it easier for customers to buy if the factors are in play? You talk about things like the fast path to [Unintelligible 33:31] and those kinds of things – forgetting about industries that have been destroyed like entertainment and hospitality, at least temporarily – has buying become easier because of the need and virtual and things like that?

Spencer Wixom: It’s a good question and I think the answer is it depends on the situation. For anything deemed essential to the business, the buying process has become easier because the organization will see it as a necessity, will fund it, will make decisions on it fast because you need those things. If they’re not conscious of that thing being essential or a necessity to them, it’s going to be harder and it’s going to be harder for a couple of reasons. In our 2020 buyer study research which is on our website – you can take a look at its various pieces – #1, procurement is much more heavily involved in these buying processes and they’ve put and mandated much more budgetary discretion to these buying groups so there’s a lot more downward pressure there. There’s also increased scrutiny on every deal so we’re going to evaluate the merits of every single opportunity or every single spend often for anything above $5,000 dollars in an organization, we’re going to take a really close look at that. If you take budget pressure + increased scrutiny, what you tend to have is a buying group that’s going to have a lot more objections and, I say, real objections. These aren’t just, “I’m going to throw out an objection because I want to slow things down” or, “I’m actually more interested in your competitor than you so I’m going to try to, without telling you that, put an objection in the path.” No, these are real objections meaning if a seller is not able to handle these objections, that deal will not get done.

Fred Diamond: We’ve got a question here and this might be a good transition. The question comes from Nicholas and Nicholas is in the DC area. Nicholas says, “What should I train my people on?” This goes back to the fundamental skill set that we talked about at the beginning. If I’m a sales professional or a sales leader right now and I see this, I say I’ve got to focus my people on #1 and #2 and then [Unintelligible 35:54]. In the remaining time, let’s talk about how this boils down to the fundamental skill set and how you’re seeing sellers performing against this skill set. Nicholas, thank you so much for the question.

Spencer Wixom: It’s a great question, Nicholas and thank you for asking it. I want to answer the second part of your question first, Fred, which is if these are the fundamentals that are most important to buyers and some of the fundamentals that will differentiate you, creating effectively that constructive tension, motivating that customer to action is a fundamental in that it’ll differentiate the experience you have with customers even though customers may not see it as particularly important. They will see that teaching element as critically important, if I’m not bringing insight, if I’m not bringing something that opens their mind and their eyes to something they didn’t consider about their business, then I’m not going to really grab their attention or engagement.

This is how it maps out as to what we should do, now pay close attention to the top 5 there that I laid out before because what we did in 2020 is we evaluated by comparison the capability of sellers on these top 5 in 2018, 2019 and 2020. These are the five: demonstrates unique insight, helps me come to a decision, understands and addresses different stakeholder needs, helps me build support across my organization, makes it easy for me to make a purchase. This is what we saw and this is very interesting here, this is the comparison, this is the buyers’ opinion of seller capability in 2018-2019 and buyers’ opinion of seller capability in 2020 post-COVID and these are the deltas. Overall, seller capability is down 40% year on year in the eyes of buyers. Why is that? Three reasons here. These were the top 5 that were most important to buyers and would most differentiate you and buyers are saying sellers are not meeting the bar near at all compared to what they were before.

There’s three reasons for that, #1 the conversion to virtual environment, it’s definitely having an effect. You’re not able to engage people as well when you’re fully on this virtual environment, you’ve got to compensate for that across these skills. #2, it’s just a more difficult economic environment. As I was saying before, objections are real, budgetary scrutiny, scrutiny on every deal so the bar for motivating me to do something is a lot higher. #3, in the boom market of 2017 to 2019 a lot of organizations were scaling by bringing in very junior sales talent and as I said earlier, a lot of that talent was having success because a rising tide floats all boats. Organizations thought, “This is working, let’s just keep adding more and more of this talent” and then all of a sudden the whole fundamental nature of the market changes and it exposes a lot of this junior talent as not capable of having true engaging experiences with customers.

Does this particular chart here say that sellers have all of a sudden become measurably worse at their jobs? No, I don’t think that’s what this is telling us. What it’s telling us is customers have set a much higher expectation for sellers and a lot of sellers are just thinking, “I can continue to do what I’ve always done and get the same results I’ve always gotten” and that is not true. It is much harder to have that powerful experience in 2020 which is why you’ve got to go back to these fundamentals and as Nicholas said, you’ve got to figure out, “How do I train, coach, develop my people around these fundamentals? Because if I don’t do it, I’m going to see exactly what a lot of organizations have told us which is #1, biggest issue 2020-2021, build a pipeline. #2, wake up and engage existing accounts. We’re feeling that pain, we’ve got to enable our people to have those experiences to solve those issues.

I’d be happy to come back on and go more tactically into how some of these skills are manifest in say, a discovery call and that’s a lot of what we do at Challenger. We take these ideas and then we find ways to implement them and action them across the sales motion that sellers are doing. That’s the final point that I’d want to make, Fred, is we can solve this. This is definitely solvable because some organizations are solving it but it requires putting a lot of pieces together in a very purposeful way. We’ve talked a lot about that, you and I, today. It’s having the right tools and technology to make sure that you’re capable of having that experience virtually, it’s understanding the flow or the nature of that experience which isn’t just a virtual presentation, it’s a virtual engagement or conversation. Then what is the quality of experience we’re trying to have? That comes down to do I have a message that’s at the fingertips of my sellers and they’re capable of delivering it and we can engage with it and measure it and know that it’s being delivered properly? Then are we bringing the right mindset to help those customers come to a decision? Are we doing research before our conversations? Are we setting proper expectations and next steps? There’s a lot of tactics here, there’s a mindset change, there’s a tool set. If you can just put all of the pieces together and just keep working at it, you can solve this. The great part here is yes, it’s kind of scary but it also presents an opportunity because you can do what other people aren’t doing and you’ll stand out in the eyes of your customer and they will reward you with business.

Transcribed by Mariana Badillo

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