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More buying decisions are being made by consensus. Executive stakeholders and management stakeholders want to get their team’s best thinking on what is needed to move their business forward. And they want their buy-in before a commitment to any change initiatives is made.

It used to be enough to find and sell to “the decision-maker” within your dream client. You only needed to find the person with authority and meet their needs. That changed a long time ago, and that change required that you instead find a power sponsor, someone who could support your effort to sell into the organization, giving you access and information. But that too has now changed. There is no power sponsor; there are power sponsors.

Because decisions are made by consensus, it’s more difficult to figure out who really has the authority to say yes to your opportunity (but a good stakeholder map and a methodology can help). The real power in your dream client is in access and influence. And proximity is power.

Proximity Is Access

The stakeholders within your dream client company work together. They have a complex web of deep relationships within their company. Those relationships allow some stakeholders to have greater influence than you may ever have as someone from the outside. The fact that they work so closely together and have these relationships makes proximity to power a form of power. Your contacts may not have the title or the formal authority to bind their company to a deal, but their close proximity to the people that do gives them the power of access.

End-user stakeholders may not have formal authority, but they do have the power to give you access into the organization—if they believe you are worth allowing through. Their proximity to power and the ability to grant—or withhold—access is their power.

If you want access, be someone worth allowing through.

Proximity Is Influence

There are all kinds of sales going in within your dream client’s company. In an effort to produce better results, people that work together are always trying to convince each other to do things differently, to change things. They are selling each other.

You might be a great salesperson, the best even, but there are people that work inside your dream client’s company that have far more influence than you will ever have. They have the ability to engage in conversations—and sell their peers with formal authority—when you aren’t anywhere to be found. Their proximity gives them influence, and that influence often allows them to sell each other more effectively than even you can.

Learn the groung truth and help your contacts become your surrogate sales force.

Proximity to power (formal authority) is power. It gives you access and, if you care about the stakeholders with no formal power, it gives you an effective form of influence.


Why are more buying decisions made by consensus?

What are the implications of decisions being made by consensus for salespeople?

What are the implications for your sales process? What might need to change?

How is power and authority now dispersed through companies?

Why is proximity a form of power?

How can you leverage proximity for access and influence?

Sales 2012
Post by Anthony Iannarino on May 19, 2012

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. He is the author of four books on the modern sales approach, one book on sales leadership, and his latest book called The Negativity Fast releases on 10.31.23. Anthony posts daily content here at TheSalesBlog.com.
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