A Metaphor for The Challenger Sale
April 16, 2013 4 Comments
In my post, Challenger: Reframing the Reframe, I spoke of the common struggles many organizations are having with the Reframe that are implementing The Challenger Sale.
The aim of this post is to provide a picture of how the Reframe functions and the role it plays within the context of Commercial Teaching and Commercial Insight.
While I hate the negative connotations that can be associated with ‘sales’ and ‘lures,’ I saw some constructive applications that may help to make the point. So let’s all agree up front, that none of us are intending the imagery to be derogatory towards customers nor the way responsible Sales professionals behave.
The Role of the Reframe
The authors of The Challenger Sale make reference to the Reframe as being the “Headline” of the insight. The goal, of course, is to attract the customer’s attention and ‘set the hook’ with an unexpected viewpoint (insight), thus the imagery of the lure.
It is at this point where the differences between Insight and Reframe can be confused as many would define the lure as the Reframe. It may help to recognize that Reframe is a verb, not a noun, but let’s define this further in the metaphorical sense. Keep in mind that no metaphor is perfect, though I hope we can have some fun with this.
A Picture of the Challenger Sale
To help get a clearer picture of how the Challenger Choreography functions with respect to Commercial Teaching, Commercial Insight and The Reframe, following are definitions and descriptions cast within the context of a fishing metaphor.
- Lure = The Warmer: It appears attractive and familiar; Operates within and relates to the customers world
- Hook = Commercial Insight: A part of the lure, tailored to the customer; Creates discomfort with status quo
- Setting the hook = The Reframe: The customer is hooked unexpectedly, compelled to go a different direction
- Line = Rational Drowning: The fishing line, or business case, ties the insight to the customer’s story
- Reel = Emotional Impact: The reel is symbolic for drawing the customer into the center of their own story
- Pole = Commercial Teaching: The fishermen uses a pole to skillfully deliver insight at the right place and time
- Flex = Constructive Tension: Pole flex represents tension when drawing customers to the center of their story
The Metaphor in Action
So now that we have definitions set, here is how this looks in action.
You, the skillful Sales professional cast your lure into the specific area of the lake where your customers are known to swim. It is a place where not many other people fish, as they seem to prefer where the waters narrow. The locals call it The Funnel. You prefer being upstream, at the top of the funnel where your customers aren’t use to seeing what you fish with.
You cast your insight right on target so as not to intrude, but rather to meet them where they swim together to be social (Social Media). The others fishing the Funnel, create a splash every time their lure hits the water. They refer to this as their ‘prospecting call.’ It sends the fish into hiding every time. Those fishing are not dissuaded though, as they are known to spend inordinate amounts of time just looking for any customer that is attracted to their lure.
However, the customer you are looking for is specific and is currently entertaining your lure. Upon seeing your lure, it feels immediately familiar and agreeable to them (The Warmer), looking like it belongs in their world and was made just for them (Tailoring). In fact, it looks quite appealing.
The customer likes what they hear as you describe the waters in which they currently swim and they start to nibble at the lure. Normally, after a nibble they drift off, but rather than needing a nap, they are engrossed with what you just shared (Commercial Insight). After all, what you just shared was that the waters where they currently swim are having a direct impact on their growth.
Being somewhat disoriented by what you revealed, and fearing you are correct as you give a little tug to set the hook, they find they are hooked (Reframe) and going in a different direction than they thought they were originally going to go with you.
You let out a little bit of line as you continue to make the business case (Rational Drowning), but never so much as to let the flex in your pole (Constructive Tension) go back to slack (Status Quo). Too much line can allow them to go in unproductive directions, getting tangled in the roots and rocks of the lake bed (False Positives).
This could cause harm to them, which was never your intention and is why you don’t reel them in too fast either (Destructive tension). In fact, you care so much for them that you are willing to endure some initial discomfort, because you know their future is better with you than without.
As you skillfully reel them to the center of their own story, they come to realize that fighting to remain where they are at…their status quo…is now untenable. They know the consequences of remaining are detrimental. There just has to be a different way… or even a New Way out of this mess.
With confidence and care, you compassionately share that which you couldn’t wait to talk to them about earlier. Your Solution. But you knew, bringing this up any earlier would be too soon for them. It would have sent them racing to the center of the Funnel to find comfort with their peers. That is why you patiently led them in a way they could follow.
As a humorous way to demonstrate the rest of the metaphor relative to the customer’s Status Quo and Our Solution, I thought this would fit with the metaphor…
About the Author: Jeff Michaels is a 20-year Sales & Marketing Executive that works with executives, leaders, and teams to create repeatable success in their business. Articles posted here typically emphasize one or more of the three requirements leading to Repeatable Success — Intentionality, Predictability and Repeatability.