As sales people we are always told to get to the decisions maker. In a perfect world we’d be able to speak with the decision maker every time. In the real world however, decision makers are empowering their colleagues to evaluate new solutions and putting them in charge of building a business case internally.
Speaking to the decision maker during your sales process is still very important. However, I think it is also very important to realize that if you are selling products that will be used by several people across the organization you will often times need the users buy-in to facilitate the sale. These individuals are your "influencers" and can be instrumental in speeding up a deal. If you can work with these influencers the correct way you can create a “champion” for your product or service. A champion is someone that will be an advocate withing the organization and can sell internally for you. In the case of not being able to get to the decision maker right away, champions are essential. Below you will find three areas you should explore with your influencers along with some questions to uncover a possible champion.
1) Discover how your influencer is measured:
a. How are they evaluated by their boss?
b. What are the specific goals for their role?
c. When do they need to accomplish these goals by?
2) Find out what motivates them:
a. What does success look like to them?
b. What are their personal goals in the short term or long term?
c. What are the consequences (positive or negative) If they fail to meet or exceed their goals?
3) Coach them so they can sell for you:
a. Do not assume they know all the answers. Coach them!
b. Leverage sales collateral and customize it to their specific needs and goals.
c. Build presentation decks for them. Always assume they will be passing on or presenting the material you give them to the decision maker(s).
The main thing to remember here is to keep it about them! You want to empower your champion to make a compelling case internally (with your help). Never assume that they are going to do a good job. If I know an internal meeting is going to happen where an organization will be discussing my product , I always make it a point to schedule a quick call with the influencer(s) to learn about what they plan on presenting. I want to make sure that what they are going to present is in line with the value proposition that I am selling. If it is not, I use the methods above to gain a better understanding of how I can make the influencer look like a rock star and sell the product for me.
Let us know if you have any tried and true methods for building champions during your sales process.