There is no power sponsor. There are power sponsors. I wrote that a few days ago and received a comment asking how you identify and open the relationships that you need. Here are some ideas as to how you can find the power sponsors within your dream client companies and how you can open those relationships.
Identifying New Power Sponsor Relationships
The easiest and most natural way to identify the power sponsors you need is to ask directly. You can start by asking the question: “Who else should we invite into this discussion?” If you are concerned about acquiring all of the buying committee members (and you should be), then you might ask: “Who are we going to need on our team if we want to get the green light for this project?”
But there are stakeholders to consider, too. These people may not be on the buying committee, but they are almost always necessary to making your solution work and to producing the results that you promised. They can share with you the ground truth (what’s really going on), and they are often where you find the real power to choose you and your solution. You can ask directly: “Who is going to be effected by this solution when we go to implement it and move forward? “
Sometimes it can be difficult to acquire the power sponsor you need, and you may have to make a case for brining them to the table. You might need to make a suggestion and help your dream client think through who is necessary and who is going to be effected by your solution. You can say: “We normally find that if we bring the operations staff and the information technology people early in this process, it helps us to make sure that we understand their needs and to get their buy-in. This makes getting things done a lot easier. Who do you think we need to get on our team early?”
It’s not as direct, but asking to tour your dream client’s facility or office works. When you are given a tour, your dream client will usually make sure to introduce you to the people who your solution is going to effect. These introductions can help you collect the names and titles, and you can later try to work them into your sales process.
Finally, you can host a tour at your facility. Normally, you end up with some combination of buying committee members and stakeholders attending a tour. In my experience, the people who show up are usually highly influential to the decision-making process, even though you still want to drill down quite a bit deeper.
Opening New Power Sponsor Relationships
One way to open relationships with the power sponsors within your dream client is to invite them to your sales calls. Inviting them proves that you believe that they are important to the process, and it allows you to directly work to understand their needs. It also opens the opportunity for you to communicate directly with these power sponsors, as well as providing an opportunity to follow up with them.
Sometimes you can schedule separate sales calls directly with the power sponsors who are not your primary contacts. If you can obtain the commitments that allow you to hold meetings with them alone, you can often discover their real needs, their real concerns, and their real constraints. Sometimes it is difficult for stakeholders to speak freely when their upper management is sitting across the table. One of the great advantages of individual meetings is that it demonstrates that they are important enough to deserve your time and attention, and that they aren’t an afterthought.
Less direct, but still effective, is scheduling implementation meetings. Scheduling a meeting to explain what you believe the implementation plan will look like is a great reason to invite all of the stakeholders. This is more effective if you have already met some of the stakeholder power sponsors, because it usually brings all the constraints to light. Knowing what you are up against is necessary, but sometimes the surprises aren’t a lot of fun.
You can also schedule a working lunch meeting to review your solution, your implementation plan, or whatever else needs to be done. If you offer to bring lunch, your dream client’s invitation list will almost always include the stakeholder power sponsors. You don’t need to do anything elaborate or expensive. A working lunch is a great way to open new relationships and gather and share information.
Those are a few ideas. What’d I leave out?
What are the best ways to identify all of the power sponsor stakeholders within your dream client and client companies?
How do you know who you really need to know?
What are the best ways to open the relationships with the power sponsor stakeholders within your dream client and client companies?
How do you get access to these people when your main contact isn’t interested in giving you access?