(This is a guest post by Ken Dutkiewicz, Director of Global Learning and Development at Steelcase Inc. Ken has more than 20 years of experience in the sales training and development function.)

I’ve worked for Steelcase for more than three decades – much of that time in sales or sales training roles.  Steelcase has always had research about office environments and how people work, but in all my years of sales involvement, I’ve never seen us quite nail the marriage of our organizational knowledge and our customers’ needs.

I thought we were getting close when we started working with concepts from the book Escaping the Price-Driven Sale by Tom Snyder and Kevin Kearns, who say:

“People value what they say and their own conclusions more than they value what they are told.”

“People value what they ask for more than what is freely offered.”

This helped reinforce for us that insight is extremely important.  But we still hadn’t figured out how to get customers to ask for more information. The SEC’s Challenger Rep™ profile was the missing link.

After I learned about Challenger reps at an SEC meeting, I realized that ours sales reps lacked the ability to teach customers.  In fact, our average sales rep would say that teaching is something our learning and development organization does.

Once I made this connection, it was clear what I needed to do from a sales development perspective.