Chally Group Worldwide Challenges the Challenger Sale Model

Founder and Chairman Howard Stevens applies 40 years of research data to show the selling model described by the Sales Executive Council of CEB is not wrong, it’s just not new, complete or transformational.

Dayton, Ohio (PRWEB) October 05, 2012

Howard Stevens, Chairman and Founder of Chally Group Worldwide, released a statement today challenging claims made by the Sales Executive Council® (SEC), part of CEB, that their heavily marketed Challenger Sale model reflects a new set of competencies, skills and behaviors that really transform the way salespeople sell.

Chally has been conducting sales profile research for over 40 years, collecting data and publishing the World Class Sales Benchmark studies at regular intervals. They released a white paper on October 02, 2012 titled, “Challenging the SEC’s Challenger Selling Model.”

Why take this aggressive public stance?

Chairman Stevens explained, “That’s a good question. But before we talk about problems with the Challenger, let’s give credit where credit is due. The basic concept is solid, as far as it goes. In fact, similar sales profile characteristics were originally published in 1934 by The Chartered Institute of Marketing.”

“However, like so much other research, very few people have heard of those findings. The SEC has done a masterful job of marketing. It has stirred up the business world. People are paying attention to the need for updated and more sophisticated descriptions of salespeople and their roles.

“And Chally agrees that widely promoted research in sales is sorely needed! We even offer sales research grants through the Sales Education Foundation. Even if we feel CEB’s research does not approach the level of the World Class Sales Benchmark studies, the SEC did raise the visibility of the developing ‘profession’ of sales to help counter all the negative images the general public has about sales people caricatured in pop culture as pushy, sweet-talkers, con artists or used-car salesmen types.

“The Challenger model highlights five types of salespeople and has identified the Challenger role as the most productive and successful in today’s business environment. On the surface, the theory makes sense, however as you dig into it deeper, it actually reflects much of what exists in the current sales landscape. So, is it really new?

“While we agree the SEC approach is a major step above so many of the silver-bullet sales methods promoted today, Chally feels that by ignoring the bottom 40% sales performers, CEB fails in its research methodology, and therefore the conclusions drawn from the data are flawed.

“As many other scientists have suggested, we feel the Challenger research did not approach the rigorous standards required for publication in recognized peer reviewed journals. Much of SEC’s results were based on self-report and anecdotal impressions which frequently drive a self-fulfilling prophecy (sometimes called the ‘placebo effect’.) By contrast, meaningful research analytics requires much more precise and reliable data collection methods, with a full range of control groups, including the bottom 40%. It’s hard to imagine that many companies can either ignore or terminate 40% of their salespeople, so they should be measured as well.

“In contrast, the World Class Sales Benchmarking Research includes individual phone interviews with 80,000 business customers who rated 210,000 salespeople at all effectiveness levels across 7,300 sales forces on 15 variables. And that research was based on previous research with over 500,000 sales people that had previously identified how market changes and customer product market life cycles dramatically change the required skills of sales people in different markets.

“Research rigor is important to Chally. It has allowed us to define the existence of 14 different sales roles that predict success. Each one can hold an important place in a successful sales strategy. And most sales organization do have two or more different sales roles to cover their sales and market channels.”

Other sales professionals agree.

“It seems a little naïve to contend that all business-to-business sellers are converging on a single role. While no one can argue the value of a high-quality consultative salesperson, in reality customers exhibit a wide range of buying needs – from those who want to be challenged, to those what an internal advocate, to those who simply want their purchase to be executed painlessly. While the Challenger model is certainly thought-provoking, it is far from a universal truth,” stated Jason Jordan, Partner of Vantage Point Performance and author of Cracking the Sales Management Code.

Dario Priolo, Chief Strategy Officer at Richardson, a sales training and consulting firm, added, “Every year we assess and interview hundreds of our clients’ top performers during our program customization process. Even within a very narrowly defined industry, it is incredible how different top performers look from one organization to the next. It is dangerous to place reps in broad categories and make generalizations about the skills, behaviors and personality traits that drive success. Every organization is unique, and there are no shortcuts for defining the competencies needed to drive your sales strategy.”

“It’s a little like strengths-based leadership introduced by Gallup over a decade ago. They published the popular Now, Develop Your Strengths, by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton and marketed it aggressively. By taking a contrary position to traditional leadership development practices of identifying and developing leadership weaknesses, they captured people’s imagination and attention. Many companies jumped on the bandwagon to try out a novel approach making big claims. Results did not prove to be any greater than other leadership development programs. It was not the be-all, end-all that was hyped and the only people writing about strengths-based leadership now is Gallup,” concluded Stevens.

Get the details as to why Chally’s research concludes that the Challenger Model is flawed. Download our FREE White Paper.

About Chally Group Worldwide 
A global leadership and sales potential and performance measurement firm, Chally Group Worldwide utilizes our industry leading research and predictive analytics to ensure our clients have the vital information to minimize risk associated with making critical talent management decisions relating to selection, alignment, development and succession planning. Chally’s suite of talent analytic tools has been improving productivity and reducing turnover and ramp-up time for customers located in over 49 countries for more than 37 years. For more information about Chally visit

NOTE: A statement attributed to Patrick Stakenas of Gartner in an earlier release has been removed. We apologize for quoting Mr. Stakenas without approval.