the “Challenger Sales Presentation” With examples

Peter Khoury

How To Implement The “Challenger Sales Presentation” With Examples (6 Steps)

Just connecting features and benefits to a customer’s needs isn’t enough to close deals in today’s environment. That’s where the Challenger system comes in with the 6 step process to help to craft a powerful and persuasive message.

While working with clients, we found that implementing the 6-step process can be overwhelming. In this article, you’ll read an explanation of the process and see examples of its use.

Two notes before you read on:

1- For the challenger system example, we use a SaaS accounting product to demonstrate the sales process (you can replace it with any other product you want).  For the buyer, we use CFO (it can be any department head responsible for the purchase). You’re a sales rep at a large, established SaaS accounting software company specialized for medium-sized businesses. 

2- Notice that your main overall objective of the presentation is to set up specific buying criteria for your prospect and, in the end, demonstrate that your product fulfills the exact criteria.

Step 1: The Warmer


The warmer is about showing the client you already have a solid understanding of their business and that you now want to hear their specific challenges so you can best help them. 

After asking questions to get an understanding, and authentically caring and being interested, you then share with them a brief background on who you’ve worked with that’s similar. 

Example: Salesperson: “We’ve worked with 50 medium-sized companies in your space and found that their typical challenge is X. Does that resonate with you?”

If it’s appropriate you can then share a customer success story (this is just one type of story you can learn in our Storytelling Bootcamp). You’re just sharing one customer success story that’s similar and asking them what other problems they may be experiencing. 

Key points in the warmer are to truly listen, authentically care about their business, and empathize with their struggles. Be present, be in the moment and not thinking about the next thing you’re going to say. 

Step 2: Reframe


Once you’ve established and clarified the problem with the Warmer, the next step is to Reframe. Simply put, the reframe gives the prospect a new perspective on their problem and what they might be missing. You want their eyes to light up! 

Unfortunately, many sales reps overcomplicate the reframe and make it too long. It can be a simple sentence that helps them see a new way. 


CFO: “We already have a local vendor in the area who does our accounting.” 

Sales Rep: “Makes sense. That’s what most of our clients started with. But with the size you are now, you need a large, established vendor that specializes in medium-sized companies.” 

Notice what the sales rep mentioned: “the size you are now” and “specializes in medium-sized companies”. They’re alluding to the possibility that the CFO’s company needs a particular solution and that the situation has changed (they’re a bigger company now). The CFO should be intrigued. 

But the rep can’t stop here. Now they need to back that reframe up! 

Step 3: Rational Drowning 

For rational drowning, you’re just going to be backing up what you’re talking about and explaining to them why. This is where you can bring in data, evidence, analytics, and numbers to explain your point. 

This can also be simple if you don’t have any graphs or numbers to show. Going on the example of the sales rep and CFO, here’s an example of what this might look like for rational drowning:

Sales rep: “The laws and regulations keep changing, you want a company that keeps updating the software to account for these changes. And you want a software that can be integrated with ERP, payment, POS, and all systems so they work cohesively together. And of course, you’re looking for top-notch security so that your confidential information is secure.” 

Step 4: Emotional Impact


But the Rational Drowning isn’t enough – you need to connect to the customer at a deeper, visceral level. You want to provide Emotional Impact that makes them feel what would happen if they didn’t care about the problem or solve it sufficiently. 

Generally, we suggest using stories, scenarios, or analogies to make the point hit harder. Here’s the continued example with a scenario: 

Sales Rep: “A lot of business systems get hacked. Your vendor likely doesn’t have the resources to have a full-time team safeguarding for vulnerabilities and staying up-to-date on the latest protocols. Imagine if you woke up tomorrow and you realized your vendor was hacked. It happens every day.” 

Notice here that the rep is speaking to a worry that the CFO may have already, but may not be explicitly voicing. The Emotional Impact can be done quickly yet powerfully. 

Step 5: A New Way


Next, you need to show them that there’s a way out of this problem – one that aligns with their goals. 

Sales rep: “Instead, what you could do is have all of the laws and regulations taken care of by a large team on the back-end. And you wouldn’t need to worry about data security because the company is experienced enough to handle vulnerabilities. All you’d need to do is pay a subscription fee each month and input your data. The rest would be taken care of.” 

Notice here that the rep isn’t selling their company. They’re just showing a way out of the problem and what it would look like for the prospect. 

Step 6: Your Solution

This is pretty simple and straightforward, it’s where you share fully what your service is, its benefits, and present your offer. Everything you’ve shared previously will be tied back into how your product or service is relevant, why they’d want it. That’s the key, tying back in everything else so it closes the lid and the sale. 

Going from the sales rep and CFO example we’ve been using in this article, here’s an example of what this could look like:

Sales rep: “You mentioned you already use a local vendor in the area who does your accounting. The problem with that is that laws and regulations are always changing and you want a company that keeps up with the changes as well as integrates with all other systems your company uses. Imagine, again, if that local account firm went out of business, you’d lose all your records. Instead, you have a large SaaS company taking care of the updates, integrations, and backups for you. All you have to do is pay the subscription of $69 per person.”

If you want to learn how to structure a sales presentation from A to Z in more depth then check out our Messaging Bootcamp. At Magnetic Speaking, we help smart professionals improve their public speaking and communication skills. Each Bootcamp is a full day, live experience that immerses you in an environment of fun and learning. The best part is, you don’t even have to leave your living room to do it – it’s 100% virtual.

Peter Khoury

Peter Khoury: Founder @ MagneticSpeaking X-Pharmaceutical Engineer, turned author, national speaker and executive presentation coach.

In addition to Public Speaking training, Peter is a regular speaker on the topics of Negotiations, Conflict Management and Leadership. He is the author of the book “Self-Leadership Guide.