Introducing Challenger Marketing


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Without Commercial Insight, Your Thought Leadership is Doomed to Fail.

B2B buyers are learning on their own and delaying their contact with suppliers until late in the purchase. Most B2B marketers are fighting back with thought leadership—but this simply won't work.

Don't Teach; Unteach

Most thought leadership tries to teach customers something they don’t already know or believe about their business—often grounded in future trends or technology shifts. It’s about their future business. What their business could be.

But thought leadership rarely changes the customer’s direction in the buying process. And that means the same old purchase criteria and the same old price-driven competition.

The Challenger Marketing approach unteaches customers something they already know or believe about the way their business currently operates. Today. Only this kind of mental disruption—or Challenge—can reliably reset the customer’s choice of purchase criteria decisively in your favor. As a result, Challenger Marketing organizations employ 4 essential elements. Visit to learn more.

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Introducing Challenger Marketing

  1. 1. 1 Competing in Today’s B2B Battleground Click the icons on each page to share with your network! Introducing Challenger™ Marketing
  2. 2. 2 B2B buying will never be the same. Customers are cutting suppliers out of their learning... …and they’re getting more and more of their information from outside sources. Define Needs Learn Assess Options Make Decisions Today’s customers are typically 57% of the way through their purchase process before they contact suppliers. Marketing needs to be present where customers are doing the bulk of their learning. Suppliers today account for less than one-half of all information that buyers use to aid in their purchase decisions. This means that depending on how many alternative suppliers are being considered, any given supplier likely will receive no more than 10%–15% “share of mind.” Information from Suppliers Historical Historical Information from Non-Supplier Sources Today Today Customer Engages Supplier
  3. 3. 3 The Challenger Sale has disrupted the world of sales by upending conventional wisdom about what matters most for high performance in selling. The book showed that the best sales reps are no longer the relationship builders but rather the Challengers™. Challenger™ Reps push customers’ thinking and disrupt purchase cycles. Three things that Challengers do with their customers: §§ Teach them new insights about their business. §§ Tailor messages for resonance across prospective buyers. §§ Take control of the sale using the credibility gained with their insight. The Challenger Sale revealed that the winning sales reps lead with insight... …so, how can marketers take the same approach? Percentage of high-performing sales reps in complex sales environments The Challenger The Lone Wolf The Hard Worker The Problem Solver The Relationship Builder 25% 19% 7% 4% 54%
  4. 4. 4 Marketers often run to content marketing, but it’s not fixing lead generation. of B2B marketers are anchoring their lead generation strategies around content marketing. But sales leaders rank lead generation efforts dead last in terms of effectiveness in helping them do their job. Marketers are trying to position themselves as thought leaders, but it isn’t leading to commercial results. Source: CEB Commercial Insight Diagnostic, CEB Research Effectiveness of Marketing Efforts (Scale of 1–5) Commercial Strategy 3.13 Brand Development 3.04 Sales Support 2.94 Customer Segmentation 2.92 Analytics and CRM 2.75 Lead Generation 2.53 90%
  5. 5. 5 Most content fails to generate leads because it’s based on thought leadership, not insight. Insight Thought Leadership Accepted Information General Information Commercial Insight A compelling, defensible perspective from a supplier that materially impacts a customer’s performance and directly leads back to their unique capabilities Commercial Insight: The Content Marketing Hierarchy Marketers create many flavors of content in their aspiration to achieve thought leadership, but only one type of content will produce the desired commercial impact.
  6. 6. 6 Don’t Teach. Unteach. Thought leadership teaches customers something about what they could be doing in their business. Content Focus: Benefits of alternate action Commercial insight unteaches customers something they are currently doing in their business. Content Focus: Costs of current behavior The key difference between thought leadership and commercial insight: Marketers create too much mediocre content in the name of looking smart or being helpful. It doesn’t move the commercial needle and only adds to the noise. Marketers creating content that lacks the ability to disrupt customer priorities should stop it. Kill it. Never create it in the first place. Period. 6
  7. 7. 77 Commercial Insight Content challenging customers’ current thinking—this will more reliably reset the customer’s purchase criteria decisively in the supplier’s favor. ! Create content paths that lead to commercial insight and disrupt customer purchase processes. Personalize the Pain Present the problem as it relates to the customer’s specific business using benchmarking tools, pain calculators, and diagnostics 3 1 Spark Concern Build interest in an underappreciated business problem with provocative infographics, data, and factoids. 2 Scope the Problem Present evidence, testimonials, and frameworks illustrating the hidden dynamics of the problem. How to cut through the noise
  8. 8. 8 Meet the Challenger™ marketer. Challenger marketers disrupt purchase processes by generating commercial insight, amplifying that insight in the market and through the sales force. These marketers develop a deep understanding of customers, take an investigative approach to their jobs, and possess savviness beyond marketing. §§ Possesses experience beyond Marketing §§ Background in Consulting or Strategy Planning §§ Focused on business objectives ahead of marketing metrics. §§ Understands customer purchase motivators and decisions §§ Synthesizes action plans from customer interactions, observations, and data §§ Tailors and contextualizes information Business Savvy Investigative Customer Native §§ Thrives in an ambiguous environment §§ Analyzes outliers §§ Decisive, but not overly confident. Hallmarks of a Challenger Marketer
  9. 9. Marketing and sales roles: from handoff to collaboration Build Content to Engage Prospects Position Supplier as Thought Leader Generate and Nurture Leads Prove Superiority of Supplier Value Proposition Navigate and Align Buying Center Stakeholders Close Deals Marketing Sales Traditional Sales Funnels Partner with Sales to develop commercial insight. Create the conditions and content that enable Sales to build prospect relationships in the pre-funnel. Co-design demand generation and content strategy that disrupts how customers think of their own business. Collaborate with Sales to equip reps with Challenger collateral. 3 3 3 4 1 1 1 2 2 2 Sales Funnels for Challenger™ Marketers Marketing Sales 9
  10. 10. 10 The Challenger Sale from CEB @CEB_Challenger Take the Next Steps CEB Marketing Leadership Council® Challenger Marketing Series Getting Paid for Content Marketing Disrupting Customer Buying Criteria This study may not be reproduced or redistributed without the expressed permission of The Corporate Executive Board Company. Assess Your Challenger™ Readiness CEB Report: Getting Paid for Content Marketing Roadmap to Building a Challenger Commercial Organization Challenger Marketing Series