Who’s buying your solution? If you answer this question with one or two titles, there’s a good chance you’re wrong.
How buyers buy has fundamentally changed. Sales professionals are no longer selling to one or two high-ranking executives. The average buying group has evolved to multiple stakeholders (5.4, in fact – read more here) from various parts of the organization. A buying group today could include a CXO, a departmental executive, a compliance manager, an IT security manager, a procurement manager, a marketing executive, and others.
Think about that for a second. As a sales professional, you’re no longer selling to the CXO or VP of X. You’re now selling to a much larger group of individuals, each with their own motivations, concerns and priorities. And that group changes from organization to organization.
That’s a pretty significant shift – one that underscores an urgent question: how do you know who your stakeholders are in any given deal? Furthermore, who among these stakeholders will help you move the buying group towards consensus?
There are several steps in this process (covered in detail in this white paper), but let’s focus on the first three steps to get you moving in the right direction:
- Find who’s willing to talk and share pain. Who’s willing to share information beyond what’s covered in an RFP, and to speak deeply about the pain your solution can remedy? Because these people have a strong connection to the problem, they will most likely be involved in finding a solution.
- Discover how buying and change has happened in the past. If you want to know how an organization will buy your solution, do some historical research. What is their track record of buying solutions of similar size/scope? Who was involved? What conversations and meetings had to happen beyond what’s scoped out in the formal buying procedures?
- Identify the mobilizer(s) willing to steward the group to common ground. Who is most passionate about the problem and willing to challenge the status quo to solve it? This is the person you will partner with to create a plan for building consensus across the group, and they will require a lot of focus and attention in the selling process. Selling begins once (and only once) this person has been identified!
Identifying the right stakeholders requires discipline. Salespeople will be tempted to “sell” to the stakeholder as soon as they smell pain; it’s a behavior that’s been ingrained in most of us in the profession. Unfortunately, it can also be the kiss of death.
Instead, sales professionals need to listen and dig deep into the stakeholder’s perspective. How will this person be judged in their role in the buying group? Are their perspectives out of alignment with the rest of the group’s vision? If so, how and why? What are their thoughts on alternative solutions? You have to have the empathy and discipline to listen without interrupting too early to push your offering.
Yet, the pay off will be well worth the effort. Some fundamentals have changed, but one has not: targeting the right people.
Want to learn more about identifying the right stakeholders in a deal? Download our complimentary white paper, “A Definitive Guide to Pain-free Stakeholder Management.”