Selling is not about relationships.
Our sister program, the Sales Executive Council, made this bold statement on Harvard Business Review’s blog last week, creating a firestorm of divisive comments.
To sum up their research, every sales person falls into one of five types. The highest performing “type” is the challenger, the salesperson who uses their deep understanding of their customers’ business to push their thinking and take control of the sales conversation. The other types, the relationship-builders, hard workers, reactive problem solvers, and lone wolves don’t match the challengers’ performance.
In this post, I propose, what if communicating wasn’t about relationships either? What if your focus on developing strong personal and professional relationships with your clients and generously giving your time to meet those client’s every need was a misguided, and likely draining, approach to your job?
Let’s give this a try.
In the HBR post, the SEC researchers describe the three traits and skills of Challengers. What if, just for fun, we replaced “Challengers” with “Communicators,” “customers” with “internal clients,” and “sales conversation” with “communication request”? Here would be the definition of a challenger communicator and their three key attributes:
Communicators use their deep understanding of their internal clients’ business to push their thinking and take control of the communication request. They’re not afraid to share even potentially controversial views and are assertive—with both their internal clients and bosses.
- Communicators teach their internal clients. They focus the communication request not on the channels but on insight, bringing a unique (and typically provocative) perspective on the internal client’s business. Read More »