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Heard of the “Challenger Sale”? Here’s What Works Even Better…

by | Sales Process, Sales Training

The past decades and even centuries have witnessed much banking innovation. Consider pneumatic capsule transportation (1799), the credit card (1950), and the ATM (1967).

Those innovations were external—easily visible to everyone. But there is also a history of innovation that’s internal to the industry, with bellwether changes to banking sales management and its increasing focus on the customer.

Over time, we went from standard bankers to “personal bankers.” For the affluent, there were

“private bankers.”

Personal bankers could open deposit accounts, but then universal bankers started to make personal loans and mortgages. Then, beginning in 2010 and blooming throughout that decade, various iterations of “the universal banker came.” At first, this role was a hybrid of a bank teller and a personal banker.

Ask a thousand bankers how sales have changed over time and you’ll get a thousand answers, but they’ll all share a common theme: It’s become more difficult.

Since the debut of universal banking, there has been another “shift” and I’ll reveal that a bit later.

And yet, no matter what kind of economic climate we happen to be in, there always seems to be a handful of high-achieving over-performers. The persistent question for many bank CEOs is, “How do we bottle their magic?”

5 Distinct Profiles of a Sales Professional

The Sales Executive Council in 2008 launched a global study of sales rep productivity involving more than 6,000 reps across nearly 100 companies in multiple industries. According to the results from this study, all top performers in sales teams fall into one of these five categories:

  1. Relationship Builders. This type of sales professional focuses on developing strong personal and professional relationships. They are generous with their time and work hard to meet their customers’ every need and solve their problems.
  2. Hard Workers. These people show up early and stay late. They make dozens more calls than anyone else and always go the extra mile.
  3. Reactive Problem Solvers. From the point of view of the customer, they are very detail-oriented and highly reliable. They are punctual and their response time is excellent.
  4. Lone Wolves. The mavericks. These deeply self-confident individuals believe “No one else can do it better than I can.” They do things their way or not at all.
  5. Challengers. Challengers have a deep understanding of their customer’s business and use that to push their thinking and strategies to take control of a sales conversation. They have no fear of telling it “like it is” whether that is to their bosses or their clients.

The question is, which type was the most prevalent among the over-performers? While all of these approaches can be effective, one is clearly dominant, with 40 percent: the Challengers.

The Challengers were more effective by far and their approach more predictable for success.

Interestingly, at the bottom of the list were the Relationship Builders. But it’s easy to see why.

Most people don’t want (or trust) a “yes man.” They would rather have an expert in their field.

Someone to show them the best way to do things—and that will have the best overall results for their money.

The data goes deeper and tells us why Challengers outperform the other four sales professional profiles:

  • Challengers take control of the sale in the best way. There is a difference between assertive and aggressive. Challengers take an assertive yet indifferent approach that puts their customers at ease.
  • Challengers teach. They bring new ideas to the table with new perspectives about their business(es), often revealing opportunities the client would never have known were possible.

Relationship Builders, as we mentioned, come in last place with only 7% of the pie. Does this mean that relationships aren’t important in sales? Of course not, but it further clarifies that friendship alone can’t save a deal, nor does it ensure future sales.

There are some bankers who will read this article and decide, “OK. Our people need to be Challengers. Let’s go do that.” But the report and the data don’t explain HOW to become one, and that’s OK.

Because there’s someone even better than a Challenger. 

It’s someone who understands that cross-sales are a reflection of trust. Someone who demonstrates that trust through the specific questions they ask and the answers they give. Someone who is more than a “universal banker” to your Top 100 clients.

That someone has a Trusted Advisor Certification™. A real Trusted Advisor––a graduate of this rigorous, comprehensive, and unique certification program––is even more effective than a Challenger, because of the specific way they are with clients. The best news for CEO and bank presidents? There is a way to turn your best people into Trusted Advisors in a matter of months instead of the “required” 10 to 20 years most would need to develop these skills. You will see that in just a matter of weeks, your team and the amazing results you’ve always known they can achieve will begin to come to fruition. 

Applications will open soon for our Trusted Advisor Certification™ Program, and we expect available spots to fill rapidly (just like the last time we opened this program). To ensure you’re among the first to be notified––complete the brief form at the website below.

For more details on the Trusted Advisor Certification™ Program and to check enrollment availability, visit ExtraordinaryBanking.com/Trusted-Advisor or call (952) 737-6700.

Want to read more stories like this? This article was originally published in Extraordinary Banker®️️️ magazine. Click here to subscribe and get your digital copy free.

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