Lately I am seeing more and more salespeople lose opportunities because they don’t have the support of the necessary stakeholders. Here’s two ideas to prevent this from putting an opportunity in your loss column.
In some cases they don’t have authority. Even though they have someone with a relatively impressive title and who also happens to be the CEO of the problem, they don’t have the support of the real decision-maker (the person their contact needs to convince).
They struggle to coach their contacts to do a good enough job selling the stakeholder with real authority. The way to find this contact is to ask the question, “Who else are we going to need in order to get this initiative approved?” Some salespeople fear asking this question because they are afraid it will alienate their contact. Not asking the question is far more dangerous. It can cost you your opportunity.
The Real Deciders
At the opposite end of the spectrum I see some salespeople who have gained the support of the stakeholder or stakeholders that have authority but who have not gained the support of the stakeholders who would be affected by their solution. Gone are the days in which having the person with authority is enough. Now that person wants to ensure they have the support of their team, the people whom they are going to charge with executing on that solution.
Here are two big ideas to help ensure you have all the stakeholders you need when you need them.
- Acquire all the stakeholders as early as possible. The sooner you get all of the stakeholders that are going to be affected by a decision to choose you to the table, the better chance you have of acquiring their support. The longer it takes you to bring them to the table, the less likely it is that you can gain their support. Don’t let high level stakeholders ignore stakeholders lower on the org chart.
- Ask the tough questions. You need to know who is going to be making the decision regarding your solution (or your competitor’s). You need to know whose signature is going to be necessary in order to bind your prospective client to a deal. And you need to know who was going to be opposed to you and your solution and why. These questions can feel confrontational, but in truth they are collaborative. Without this information you can’t easily help your client.