How to Use the Challenger Sales Model to Seal the Deal

Challenger Sales Model

Do you constantly find yourself right on the edge of closing a deal, only for it to fall through unexpectedly?

This is likely because you’re using an ineffective selling model during your sales process.

Relationship building and problem-solving have been popular sales strategies in the past. However, it’s the challenger sales personality that’s most effective at sealing the deal.

To channel your inner challenger sales rep, you need to understand how to adapt the challenger sales model to teach, tailor, and take control of your sales.

This guide will walk you through the steps needed to conquer the challenger sales model and seal the deal every time. 

What is the Challenger Sales Model?

The term ‘Challenger Sale’ was first coined by authors of “The Challenger Sale”, Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson.

Their book explores the different types of sales personalities and how each performs when it comes to closing sales.

Written in 2011, the book asserts that there are five predominant sales personalities:

  1. The Relationship Builder – This sales style is based on connecting with the customer.
  2. The Hard Worker – These self-motivated salespeople beaver away putting in the extra mile.
  3. The Reactive Problem Solver – Identifying bottlenecks as they happen, this detail-oriented sales leader is reliable and methodical.
  4. The Lone Wolf – Relying on instincts and emotions, this salesperson works alone.
  5. The Challenger – Fostering a growth mindset, this sales personality changes the customer’s worldview to teach how the sale is valuable to the customer.

The book found that Challenger salespeople were the highest performing sales team members 39% of the time.

On the back of this book, Gartner’s research found that 54% of high performing closers of complex sales used the Challenger Sales Model.

But what exactly is the Challenger Model and why do they thrive when dealing with a complex sale?

Challenger selling rejects the idea that the customer needs all the facts and figures associated with the product and sales process.

How to Use The Challenger Sales Model to Seal Deals: A step-by-step walkthrough

If you’re fighting to close deals despite putting in a cart-load of legwork, it’s probably because you’re not using the most effective selling approach.

Alternatively, you could be struggling to close deals due to a recent change in events and having to telecommute and manage your team from home rather than sell face to face. If you’ve recently had to change the entire way you do business…

Don’t worry, you are not alone. No matter the reason for your half-full pipeline, the challenger sales model will help you to come out on top. 

The Challenger Sales Model gives you the framework to close deals every time in three steps:

  1. Teach the customer your value
  2. Tailor your message to customer needs
  3. Take control of the sale’s progress

This section will run you through how you apply these three steps to your sales processes to close more deals.

Instead, a Challenger rep will aim to teach the relevance of the product or service to the customer. During the sales process, messaging is tailored to the customer’s specific hurdles and economic needs.

Taking an assertive sales approach, a Challenger sales leader will firmly guide the buyer down the sales process, educating the client on applicable value as they go.

The Challenger Sales Model Step 1: Teach customers your value

Sales teams that use the Challenger Model start by teaching the client the value of the product.

This requires that all salespeople in your sales team are familiar with the unique value proposition of the company. 

First, a sales leader must understand all the values of the product they are selling. 

Next, you need to learn how to teach these benefits to the customer. Systemize this selling process so that all information is collated in an automated system to collaborate amongst your team.

One of the biggest problems with sales teams is a lack of coherence in the sales pitch process. Some customers are giving hard and fast facts, while others try flattery or building a relationship

Despite the common belief that you should find a mutual connection with customers, relationship building was only successful in complex sales 7% of the time.

Instead, take an education-forward Challenger selling approach. Your sales team should have a consistent sales pitch styled in an educational manner. 

Challenger salespeople adopt an educational stance to teach each customer how and why there is value in this sale, without lecturing. Along with this, businesses should leverage the use of digital and content marketing so that customers are educated before the first sales call. You could launch a blog and write sales-driven pieces to further educate prospective clients and provide value. 

By showing customers the value of your product or service, you invite your customers to picture the problems it could solve.

Take a look at Wordable:



Aiming to encourage potential customers to sign up for its CMS software, Wordable takes an educational approach to the sale with a robust free trial/onboarding process.

Wordable has a specific knowledge base section of the website for customers to learn how to use the program.

This library includes webinars that show values that a customer may not have previously considered, such as the software’s capabilities. 

To best leverage the Challenger Sales Model, take a teaching approach to your sales. 

Make sure that the whole sales team has a harmonized understanding of how they should be teaching clients the value and uses of your product.

When making a sale, show, don’t just tell. Demonstrate the benefits and uses by walking prospective customers through case studies to show applied value.

The Challenger Sales Model Step 2: Tailor your sales messaging to your customer

Most often, the product or service you’re trying to sell will appeal to multiple buyer personas. 

While this is great news for your pipeline, it’s irrelevant to the customer in front of you. 

You need to tailor your sales process to the customer you’re dealing with. 

2020 is the year of personalization. 72% of buyers will only engage with sales messaging that’s tailored to their needs. 

More urgently, 76% of consumers now expect all personalization across all services. 

From targeted email campaigns to personalized solutions selling, every part of your sales pitch should be customized. This includes starting with your subject line

Even just using a prospect’s first name in the subject line can boost open rates and the opportunity to get your product or service in front of them. 

Personalizing your sales experience means tailoring your sales messaging to solve the specific issues your customer is having.

Demonstrating the value your products have in solving the customer’s problems is the winning approach of a successful challenger sales rep. 

To effectively harness the Challenger Model, tailor sales messages at all levels of the pipeline.


For example, check out how collaboration software,, customizes the lead capture process of the sales funnel.

The lead capture form is pushed to sales leads who want a demo.

The form automatically categorizes leads by the department, while offering a message box for complete customization. All leads are automatically secured so all customer data is encrypted and safe yet accessible in locked accounts.

Using this information, sales personnel are able to qualify leads and tailor sales pitches to their specific bottlenecks. 

Since 84% of customers want to be seen as a person rather than a number, this tailored Challenger selling approach seals deals.

The Challenger Sales Model Step 3: Take control of the sales process

Every top sales manager knows that you need to accelerate the sale by creating a sense of urgency.

The Challenger Sales Model invites you to take control of the sales process but assert clear progression steps. 

First, create a standardized sales procedure that harmonizes your teaching methods for demonstrating your value to customers.

Make sure you strategize clearly-defined action steps that establish milestones and offer procedures for moving the sale forward. 

Train sales personnel to tailor this sales experience to each customer’s needs and opportunities. 

Encourage assertiveness by identifying key leverage points and working with the decision-makers to turn those keys.

For example, it’s vital that you take control of discussions about money. Be confident, go in early, stay open, and tailor tailor tailor. 

So, say you sell B2B data storage solutions. 

Your discovery call may have qualified a company as a potential lead. 

That discovery sales call was most likely with a technical person on the ground who’s qualified the technical need for the product. 

While that first cog is in place, tech guys rarely have the budget or decision-maker power. 

End your discovery call by booking a meeting with your tech guy and his manager. 

Establish your intentions to talk about the budget in the first discovery call so that your second meeting is with the appropriate financial decision-maker. 

On the second call, be assertive in uncovering their circumstances. Identify:

  • The current systems they have to deal with the problem you solve 
  • How these systems help
  • How these systems could be improved
  • How big the impact of the issues are (try to clarify this in money terms)
  • How long the issues have been going on (again, equating this to fiscal loss)

The next step is the crux of the Challenger Sales Model — designing a tailored solution that your prospective customer cannot say ‘no’ to.

By crafting a personalized solution based on the scope and cost of your customer’s problem, you’ll leave them no choice but to agree.

The trick here is to envision any obstacle they may throwback and have a system designed to accommodate this.

For example, imagine that you offer web design services.

A digital illustrator approaches you about a redesign of their website.

Previously, the illustrator’s website had been a simple gallery of their previous work. 

Now, they’d like to pivot to become an e-commerce marketplace for their own artwork and other local artists. 

You can quickly calculate that their current profit is zero. So, they need your services to make even one sale.

If each illustration sells at $150, and your website redesign costs $500, they have to sell 4 pieces of artwork to balance the books.

Now, they’ll likely worry that they don’t know how long it’ll take to sell any art at all. 

Perhaps you offer to accelerate lead capture. Build a quick landing page, welcome email, or an automated email campaign that they can send out to current contact lists.

Be sure not to leave out the follow-up email as part of your overall strategy as it can increase your chances of receiving a response by over 65%.

By doing this, they can capture leads early and inform those prospective leads of a launch. 

Since email marketing makes $32 ROI on every $1 spent, theoretically, if they spent $10 a day, they’d make their money back in 23 days!

This is how a high performing Challenger rep takes control. 

  • Define the problem
  • Design the solution
  • Refine the answers

Push back, be assertive, and always know your customer. As a bonus, once you close the deal, be sure to set up a referral program to encourage customers to refer their network to you, too. 


Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of how to use the Challenger Sales Model to seal every deal every time.

It’s the same model that I’ve personally used to grow my blog to 400,000 monthly readers, and scale my own sales.

The most vital takeaway from this guide is that a successful Challenger rep teaches value, tailors solutions, and takes control of the sales process. 

Got more questions about the Challenger Model? Feel free to reach me at my blog.