Challenger Sale: The Reframe Exercise

Challenger Sale Reframe

Practice reframes with ordinary objects

The Challenger Sale Choreography
If you are familiar with the Challenger Sale, you will quickly recognize the six components of the Challenger Choreography described as follows:

1. The Warmer
2. The Reframe
3. Rational Drowning
4. Emotional Impact
5. A New Way
6. Your Solution

A cursory review of what each stage of the choreography is intended to accomplish is largely unsurprising, and in five of the six stages, looks similar to many selling systems* out there.

There is more than meets the eye, especially as the real point of differentiation tends to hinge on the second stage with the Reframe. Being able to Reframe, or share an insight in a way that the prospect hasn’t thought of or considered before, is paramount to moving successfully through the rest of the choreography.

*Just a quick note to remind people that The Challenger Sale is not touted, nor intended as a ‘selling system.’ Brent Adamson shared the following on the topic in a blog post back in 2012…

“The Challenger Sale isn’t so much a “selling system,” as it is a way to think differently about how to approach customer interactions.”

— Brent Adamson

Cultivating Rep Proficiency with the Reframe
If you are looking to build proficiency in the way your sales and marketing staff successfully communicates reframes, perhaps the exercises we had done in weekly team meetings will be helpful to you in working with your teams.

Getting people to think differently about something in ways they have never done before is not an easy task, especially for those that had not been thinking that way. Therefore, we were looking to develop and cultivate competencies in this specific area so our team could recognize unique points of view and deliver them without the feeling of “starting from scratch,” as some had described the process.

The ‘Reframe’ Exercise

Following is an exercise I led the teams through to not just teach them what to say, but rather teach them how to think to create effective reframes.

Each Team Leader would bring a mystery grab bag of everyday items to the meeting. The team would pair up and grab an item from the bag. Representative items included things like scissors, a whiteboard eraser, aspirin, etc.

The pairs would take 5 minutes to come up with their Teaching Point, followed by a Warmer and a Reframe on their respective item. Next, they would present to the team for a team evaluation. We would then debrief with the whole team by asking a series of questions, such as, “Did they lead WITH the solution or lead TO the solution?” and “Did they share an insight in a way you hadn’t considered before?”

In one of the exercises, the teams were tasked with reframing the same item – a wire coat hanger. Some groups went down the path of calling out the many uses for a wire coat hanger (e.g., “perfect for unlocking car doors,” which is the stereotypical, product-centric, ‘lead WITH’ approach). We debriefed and they understood where they made their mistake.

However, following is what came from one group [in abbreviated form] as they had a better handle on the reframe process…

Teaching Point:Homeowners are often short on closet space and fail to realize the main culprits of closet space are plastic and wooden hangers which are 5-10 times the width of wire coat hangers.

Warmer: “We often hear from many of our customers that closet space at home is at a premium as they cite that they have too many clothes and their closets are too small. Is this something you experience as well? [They validate with the customer, so as not to assume a problem they don't have]. The customer/prospect is invited to share the specific details of their problems.

Reframe: “We hear that a lot. In fact I hear solutions ranging from changing out their clothes for each season to complete remodels to build larger closets. What is interesting is that one of the largest contributors to prematurely filling up closet space are plastic and wooden hangers. What kind of hangers are you currently using?”

We call the process batting practice as it is a way of warming up before sales calls. This process has been fruitful with our teams as they have started to recognize and develop reframes on the fly to get people to see things differently all throughout the day.

In fact, for several, they have begun to pass along affirmations to their colleagues in the form of, “I never thought of it that way before,” when they have successfully reframed whatever the point was in which they were speaking. They are having fun with the process and the audience, be it customer, prospect, family member or friend, benefits as a result of the new insight.

Share your insights on exercises you have used or are using with your teams.

Jeff Michaels | Repeatable SuccessJeff Michaels is a Sales & Marketing Executive that has worked with executives, leaders, & teams for 25 years to create repeatable success regardless of industry, economy or circumstance.

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14 thoughts on “Challenger Sale: The Reframe Exercise

  1. Hi Jeff,
    This is great stuff, I love the concept of role-playing exercises where salespeople become familiar with reframing. It is not natural and takes practice to get your head around. Batting practice makes sense as well.
    Good luck with Challenger.

    • Thanks Mark. I completely agree as it isn’t a natural process for most people, but it certainly has been rewarding to myself and my leaders as they are teaching behaviors that can be repeated successfully. Thanks for the encouragement.

    • Karen – Thanks so much for your kind words. It has been a fun process and it is always enjoyable to see the creativity people use in Reframing something in a way others never thought of before.

  2. We started to implement the Challenger approach last year – it is bringing success – it is a hard shift from other approaches – typically an in depth A to B discovery etc etc.

    • I understand, Jamie and agree. My teams had been freshly introduced to Sandler just prior to my arrival.

      When I began the Challenger kickoff and implementation in January 2012, they were still working to fully adopt that process.

      They initially saw Challenger as being a replacement for Sandler, when in fact, Challenger was a more effective way to use Sandler.

      Once that was understood, we began having much greater success in the support and adoption with some breakout results. Thanks for your comments!

  3. Hi Jeff,

    I’m reading your articles having just read the Challenger Sale and am keen to understand if you would deem your deployment of Challenger successful?

    Are you still running Challenger as a model and have you found any good resources for example insights or reframes?

    Thanks and keep up the good work!

    • Hi Russ and thank you for your readership. I am honored.

      Each of my 5 deployments of Challenger have been successful, [though some were harder fought than others] and all teams are still actively growing in their Challenger competencies. Much daily coaching is required, but not unlike any other behavior you want to shape/refine.

      Regarding resources for insights and reframes, could you be more specific? I am not sure if you are looking for examples of insights and reframes, or if you are looking for resources on how to create both.

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