Traditional sales doctrine tells us to always get face-to-face access to decision makers at all costs. However, I keep hearing that it's increasingly difficult to get in front of these "centers of power" in our modern-day busy marketplace. So what can we do? The answer is to leverage our internal champions at our customer's identified focus of dissatisfaction, so they can successfully keep selling the topic internally and push the process on our behalf.
As always, it's easier said than done. You may be familiar with a situation early in the sales cycle where after your prospect insisted, they took over and had a critical conversation or delivered your presentation in an absolutely butchered manner and zero effect. Bam, and your chance was gone.
In reality, we oftentimes don't have the chance to join our client's internal discussions in the first place. So it's critical for you to trust your internal sponsors and people you've identified to actually have the pain you can solve. They are your internal champions who have understood the value of your solution and vouch for it internally on their end.
Therefore, a question comes up regarding how you can best prepare your client-side champion to make a convincing internal presentation? If you just list the topics and benefits of your solution, things will inevitably get omitted, filtered and watered down by the time they will be discussed. Oftentimes, no matter how hard your champions try, they won't be able to present your message as convincingly as you could – and it's that kind of artificial flair with which the decision maker will be informed about it too.
What you need to do instead is to rehearse and coach your champions. It sounds difficult to put in practice, but asking and probing for the impact and value your product provides to their organization, they'll be able to dress your impact and value into their own convincing words and talking points. We as the seller want to essentially shift our sponsor's mind into that future state where the problem we've identified is already tackled and where the implications, and the payoff of our solution is already far into improving their organization. What is the impact it is having? What have we mitigated or improved? On the other hand, what will happen if their problem remains unsolved?
This way sponsors themselves can craft the exact details of your common message according to their own liking and a way that works best for them, and consequently, for you. It's because they understand clearly the value and purpose of bringing your product on board and into their organization's further consideration. Coaching your sponsors with "Implication" and "Need-payoff" questions familiar to us from Rackham's SPIN framework, will help you frame and probe for the understanding of your product and its impact by your champions.
This way your sponsors are ready to go and present your solution internally. They'll do it in a convincing and effective manner so that maybe – next time – you'll have a true chance to be invited and join the conversation while gaining valuable access to the right decision makers and budget holders of your client organization.
Soon already, with a better chance you'll be well on your way to proceed in your customer's complex b-to-b buying process. Good luck!
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