The end-user stakeholders are easy to identify. But there are other, sometimes more difficult to identify, stakeholders within your prospective clients that are also affected by your solution—even though they don’t use it. Your product, your service, or your solution in some way touches these stakeholders, too.
Who They Are
If end-user stakeholders are ignored, this group is all but invisible. A little work and attention here can help make you look really professional, it can uncover some future issues and allow you to resolve them before they become serious, and it can give you a smoother path when you win.
Some examples make it easier to understand who is included in this group of ancillary stakeholders, even though they may be different for you.
The accounting people who process your bills may have preferences as to your billing. They may require certain things to appear a certain way on your invoice, and they may have some preferences as to how and when they are received. They may also require reports. Discovering these preferences before you start billing your client make it easier for the accounting people to pay your bills, and they make it easier for you to get paid in a timely manner.
Then there’s the information technology department. Sometimes what we sell requires that the IT department make changes. You may need to give people access to your technology or to make changes to permissions within your prospective client’s technology so you have access. You may need to install equipment and connect it your prospective client’s infrastructure. Depending on what you sell, you may have a very complex set of needs that requires that you work closely with their IT department, even though they aren’t really the end-user of your product or service.
If you sit down and reflect on the challenges you have had implementing after winning an opportunity, you can easily reconstruct the problems that were caused by not knowing or understanding the needs of the ancillary stakeholders.
How You Create Value for Ancillary Stakeholders
There is nothing new or revolutionary here.
You create value for your prospective client’s ancillary stakeholders by respecting them enough to meet with and ask them a few questions. You plan to include them in your implementation process, and you make the necessary adjustments to what you do so that it is easy for them to work with you. You make sure that you are easy to do business with.
You create value for this group by not surprising them with your urgent needs long after they should have been known and long after you have started working with your dream client.
The risks associated with ignoring or neglecting ancillary stakeholders aren’t nearly as detrimental to winning a deal. But they are much more problematic after you have won.
By not taking time to consider their needs, your implementation can come across as the amateur hour. Your new client can witness your lack of attention to detail, especially when they are surprised that you need their help with something that you knew you needed long ago.
Asking for what you need after you needed it is a form of negligence. You either knew you needed it, or you should have known that you needed it. In their view, you should have captured all of this in an implementation plan, and you should be capturing changes to that plan with each new client you convert. Most of what you need is easily discovered.
The risk is that you can lose the professional image and credibility that you earned up until the implementation. Ignoring the ancillary stakeholders allows unnecessary, preventable problems to surface, often when you are still dealing with the real challenges of executing and producing results.
When you are slaying dragons, the last thing you need is to be attacked by dozens of distracting mosquitoes.
Who are the ancillary stakeholders within your prospective clients that you need to consider when selling?
What are the common things that ancillary stakeholders need from you? What do they often need changed or modified in order to do their job well?
Have you captured the common titles, common roles, and common needs and included them in an implementation plan?
What are the problems that you have had to deal with after you have won an opportunity and begun serving your clients? Which of these could have been easily avoided had you considered the ancillary stakeholders?