Challenger vs. Sandler: What is the difference and which is better?

It’s common to hear your sales manager reference either Sandler or Challenger sales methodology and sometimes it’s hard to know which is best.

  • Sandler Methodology: Takes an approach of immediately qualifying your customers buying stage. If the customer isn’t ready to buy, pull your sale off the table. If it’s important, they will come back to you.
  • Challenger methodology: Does not take into account upfront timeline.  Rather, it’s a confrontational way to persuade the buyer to look at old problems with a new lens. This may ultimately engage a rapid buying process.  This method involves education creativity.

Challenger differs in that it leads where Sandler follows.

Most organizations have a mixture of both of these approaches because sales cultures have multiple layers of tenure, talent, and skill competencies.  These differences serve to foster healthy environments, where sales professionals can collaborate to grow in their craft.  Some organizations prefer adopting a singular focus and perfecting that approach for optimal success.

According to a blog written by Cobhan Phillipson @ Docurated, they are a huge fan of the challenger sales model.  In his blog post, “7 steps to developing a challenger sales model”; Cobhan provides a step by step blue print to get sales people teaching, tailoring and taking control of the sale process.  See more in his blog post here.

If Challenger isn’t your natural approach you may find you favor Sandler.  Sandler seeks to talk less, ask more questions, and present the buying criteria up front.  In return, a commitment is requested.  Without a commitment, the sales person walks away, allowing the buyer to truly evaluate if they are ok with no change.

Karl Schaphorst, guest columnist for Strictly Business, outlines Sandler process in the “7 steps to Overcoming sales failure”.  He has seen sales professionals use these 7 steps in succession to achieve increased sales.

Whichever option you use, make the decision based upon what comes naturally.  I am a fan of not beating around the bush, plain speak, and treating people the way I would like to be treated.  Admittedly I am comfortable using both methods, based upon how my customer responds early in our conversation.   There is no magical way to bamboozle someone into making a purchase. You should sell to their needs, creating a self-satisfied customer.  If you try to use gimmicks or fast talk, you will surely raise red flags, losing respect from your both your customers and your peers on the sales floor.  People like an honest approach and respect professionalism.  So my recommendation is to try each method and see what you think.   Work with someone you trust to find the right fit. In the end, knowing what the customer wants and how to deliver it, makes the best sale!

 

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