Challenger Choreography vs. Unchallenged Choreography
Following are the talking points for each of the 4 slides, which are based upon CEB’s Challenger Choreography:
Slide 1: CEB’s Challenger Choreography – See CEB’s description in the book, ‘The Challenger Sale’
Slide 2: A non-Challenger Rep’s natural tendency to keep things light-hearted and relational tends to be their primary approach to selling. Reps who shortcut the Challenger process will fail to become a Challenger as they are likely to emphasize two aspects of the choreography – The Warmer and Our Solution. They mistake the Warmer for being license to talk about themselves to build ‘credibility’ and then progress prematurely to talking about their ‘Solution.’ This is what I call “Unchallenging Choreography” as prospects were never challenged to look at things differently. Furthermore, this type of rep approach is the epitome of leading WITH solution, instead of TO.
Slide 3: Not only do reps have tendencies to talk about solutions, but prospects go there quickly as well. With customers 57% of the way through the buying cycle (or greater) before engaging a rep, prospects want to go straight to what they believe they already know, without getting bogged down in what is truly the root of the problem. They self-diagnose. But without getting down to the root, no fruit (i.e., The Sale) is likely to be produced, because they see any number of products/solutions being viable. More often, 2/3 of them will remain with the Status Quo as they saw no compelling reason to change. If they were to consider change, it will likely come down to price when the rep fails to redirect how they are thinking about things (Reframe) and walk them all the way through the implications of remaining the same (Emotional Impact).
Slide 4: Reps can mistake the choreography for meaning that they should do most of the talking when ‘teaching,’ which more often sounds like arrogant lecturing. This slide aims to help reps see a balance in their approach. As such, there are a few components to be aware of in the breakout of the three stages I have created, so as not to misinterpret what this slide is meant to portray:
- The six stages of the choreography are broken into three major categories – Insight, Impact and Solution – as a means for remembering the choreography
- When working through the choreography, important to remember is that Teaching, Tailoring and Taking Control are not sequential steps, but are prevalent throughout the choreography
- Similarly, Teaching, Listening and Leading are also important throughout the choreography as is appropriate to the conversation, and therefore should be used as a framework rather than an absolute rule
- Teaching. In the first stage (Warmer to Reframe), the aim is to establish credibility by demonstrating you really understand customers like them, and to start to ‘Teach’ them a different way to think about their problems. For many businesses, this stage does not take long at all and should represent minimal talking done by the rep, despite the balance of the introductory comments tipping in the rep’s favor.
- Listening. The second stage (Rational Drowning to Emotional Impact) begins to shift the balance of talking quite quickly to the prospect, as the rep skillfully asks questions post reframe that helps prospects see themselves in the center of the story. Reps should make sure to be in listening mode, while continuing to redirect prospects back down to the ‘root’ of the matter, as they are likely to want to surface. Additional ‘Tailoring’ is necessary here as prospect’s tendency, will not only be to surface, but also to generalize the depth of their problems and impact to their business.
- Leading. The third and final stage (A New Way to Our Solution) requires the rep to lead the discussion at this point. If stage 1 and 2 have been done appropriately, the prospect recognizes they have a problem that needs to be addressed quickly, but they don’t know how to do it at this point. Therefore, at the ‘New Way’ phase of the choreography, they are asking a question such as, “Is there a solution for this.” Before jumping to your ‘Solution,’ they need to understand specifically what any solution must entail if it is going to resolve their issues. This description should be identical to the aspects your solution is uniquely designed to do. If it describes what competitors solutions also do, you have failed to lead specifically TO YOU. This is why your ‘leading’ them through this part of the choreography is critical.
Jeff 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.