On Sales Trainings and CRM: The Adoption Challenge

Sales trainings can focus too heavily on one methodology when a more flexible approach is necessary. The Challenger Methodology is no exception.


Heard about the Challenger Sales Methodology yet? So many people are excited about Challenger, and they’re showing great results. But problems rear up when imposing a single methodology on salespeople. A lot can slip through the cracks.

Potential problems with reliance on any one script come in two dimensions: 1) Failing to consider unique groups can lead to benefactors and detractors, causing friction; and 2) Imposing the same structure on different marketing campaigns can yield equally polarized results. Enterprise runs into trouble whenever it tries to tell employees how to do their jobs better, especially without measuring the results. This applies to any process-oriented change, including CRM.


Every few years someone will write a book about selling, which captures the attention of a lot of people. The argumentation around why the methodology works is equal in importance to the methodology itself.

Challenger works during booms and busts. OK. Will it work for every salesperson? More importantly, will it do the trick for every customer? Sales keynotes bottle the methodology and spread it via training programs, seminars and conferences. Pretty soon the entire industry knows the methodology, through and through. But somewhere in all the virality and the hype, the process breaks through the Earth’s gravity well and becomes perfect.

Challenger is the next iteration – the next process improvement in a line of improvements – more sophisticated, yes. But in a dynamic world, nothing is perfect for long. And in a complicated world, nothing is perfect everywhere.


Sometimes a firm implements a sales process and receives worse results. That is why it is critical to collect all the data in an analyzable format – so that the CSO can track whether that next big push is moving the sales in the right direction. Some sales reps might be against the grain on a methodology for the best reasons.

Honestly, some people sound arrogant when they take the Challenger approach.

The same is true of Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Salesforce is the industry leader right now, and SFDC is an extremely powerful platform, but it is not the best solution for everyone at all times. A 2014 SFDC customer survey posted average sales increases of 32%, sales productivity increases of 40%, and improved forecast accuracy of 45% due to CRM implementation.* These are inspiring statistics, but it is also true that many companies struggle with creating a viable strategy for growth with CRM.

Deeper changes might be required, such as:

1) Creating a CRM Strategy

2) Re-architecting customer-facing processes

3) Implementing customer-centric behavior

4) Choosing technology

SFDC is the industry standard but does not apply equally to every company in the mid market. Less expensive solutions are showing a lot of potential in this segment, like bpm’online. And taking that a step backward, CRM might not even be the high-priority sales process improvement for a firm. Every trend is an opportunity; might be right, might be wrong.

The same problem occurs when some sales reps try to “own” the Challenger methodology. To be successful, changes to a traditional process require more than weekend training. They require nuanced consideration of all stakeholders and consistent upkeep.

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