Chapter 10: The Corporate Executive Board - Challenger Sale


The Corporate Executive Board is a publicly traded, membership-based advisory company. CEB has very strong research capabilities, and discovered that the most successful sellers shared certain characteristics, which led to CEB developing the “Challenger” profile.

Challengers don’t sit back and wait for business to come to them. Instead they are more proactive, bringing new ideas to customers to build value; and more persuasive, “challenging” the customer to take action because it is the right thing to do for their business. 

The rationale behind the Challenger makes a lot of sense in this era of the ultra-informed buyer.

In 2011, CEB published the very successful and disruptive book, The Challenger Sale. The success of the book led them to launch a training offering to help clients create “Challengers” in their sales force. CEB continues to build out its sales practice, creating comprehensive solutions for clients to not only train, but to also implement and sustain their Challenger program.


CEB is a global organization, with offerings for large and mid-sized companies. Their clients pay an annual membership fee and gain access to CEB’s research and best practices guidance, and to CEB’s peer communities. CEB also offers advisory services to its members to build organizational capabilities, create alignment and support for key initiatives, and to strengthen departmental team skills. These services include their sales management academies and Challenger Sale training. They also offer comprehensive assessment solutions through their acquisition of SHL in 2012, and training impact measurement solutions through their acquisition of Knowledge Advisors in 2014.

Featured Clients and Case Studies

CEB has numerous case studies from clients from leading organizations such as Autodesk, Kimberly-Clark and Medtronic describing their experience implementing the Challenger Sale in their organization and the results they achieved. If you are considering implementing the Challenger Sale, then you will find these case studies extremely informative.


CEB is not currently listed among or SellingPower’s “Top 20” sales training companies. Sales training is a newer offering for CEB, and the Challenger was so disruptive that it really shook up the industry. If you are considering CEB or any organization for sales training, take the extra steps to verify that the solution, program and trainers are the right fit for your organization.

Core Sales Training Programs

CEB offers a number of useful services to sales leaders such as research, best practice sharing, diagnostics and assessments. Their training offerings focus on the implementation of the Challenger Sale.

The Challenger is more than a training program; it is a business transformation that requires alignment of Sales, Marketing, Human Resources and Sales Operations for proper execution. To achieve this, CEB focuses on three foundational elements:


Organizational Alignment, which includes:

  • CEB Challenger™ Messaging to create the insights that sales will use to shape the customer’s thinking and drive action.
  • CEB Challenger™ Opportunity Manager to embed the Challenger process into your CRM workflow.
  • CEB Challenger™ Selection and Assessment to hire and develop candidates with the highest likelihood of success.2.

Managerial Support, which includes:

  • Coaching to the Challenger™ to help sales managers develop consistent Challenger skills and behaviors and a sustainable coaching culture in your organization.

Development of Seller Skills, which includes:

  • Building Challenger™ Skills to provide sellers with foundational skills to execute the program.
  • Advancing Challenger™ Skills: Mobilizing Customer Action to fine-tune Challenger skills and give sellers the ability to engage stakeholders likely to drive action.


Other Services Offered

  • Access to CEB’s research library and to the CEB Member Community
  • Organizational Diagnostics: CEB’s Anatomy of a World Class Sales Organization
  • Training Impact Measurement through CEB’s Knowledge Advisors unit

Guidance for Sales Training Buyers

The Challenger™ builds advanced-level skills. It is not a comprehensive call planning or opportunity management program, nor does it provide foundational sales dialogue skills, presentation skills, or negotiation skills. The Challenger™ builds on these fundamental skills.

corporate executive board sales training

You have written an excellent piece. I do not say that lightly

VP of SALES, $3 Billion Revenue Co.

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