<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=577820730604200&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

A first meeting is not automatically an opportunity. You need more evidence before you can consider a first meeting to offer more potential. A confirmed second meeting is a positive factor worth considering, but what is often greater proof you have a real opportunity is the presence of a sales champion. A sales champion is a contact who will advocate for you.

One way to determine the client's interest and your odds of winning an opportunity is to look at the effort put forth by a sales champion who does what they need to position you inside their company. Often, this sales champion is a linchpin; the decision hangs on them. Your sales champion is often the first person you meet with, as they are interested in the improvement you can help them with.

Here are five things you need from your sales champion:

  1. Potential opportunities
  2. Access to stakeholders
  3. Understanding the client's company
  4. Support with the sales process
  5. Influence inside their company

In Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition, I offered the advice of finding what I called the "the CEO of the Problem." This person is responsible for a strategic outcome. Because they are responsible for improving some result, they have a greater motivation to provide you with the help you need, making them your sales champion. These contacts have a complete understanding of the pain points you address in the sales conversation. The following sections outline the things you need from your sales champion.

Potential Opportunities

The first thing you need from your sales champion is an opportunity that supports both you and your champion. It is your champion’s change initiative, something that will improve their results.

Your sales champion helps you understand where and why they need better results. They are often candid, providing you with information that will help you help them address the areas where they need improvement. Part of this includes clarifying who else is involved in the decision, and who will be affected by the change initiative.

Access to Stakeholders

When the person you believe is your sales champion tells you they are the person making the decision, it’s a sign that the opportunity isn’t real. In business today, consensus and committees are part of the buying process. When you are not given access to other decision-makers and stakeholders, you are being disqualified.

A real and reliable sales champion introduces you to other members of their team because they are building the consensus they need to push forward and make the changes they need. When, in the second meeting, your sales champion introduces two new contacts, you have evidence this person is serious about the better results they need, and, equally important, that they are working for you. When your champion introduces you to a senior leader, you know you are well positioned to win an opportunity.

Understanding the Client’s Company

Because you are an outsider, you need your champion to help you navigate their company. Different companies have different cultures and certain boundaries that are invisible to you but well known by your sales champion and other insiders. Your sales champion can tell you about each contact’s sacred cows and how to avoid triggering other stakeholders.

You also need help understanding how the company makes decisions, what that process looks like, and what you will need to do to win the opportunity. Your internal sales champion can help you do the right thing in the right way at the right time. They can also help you customize your approach and keep you on track. You also need support throughout the sales process.

Support with the Sales Process

A great sales champion will work with you to prepare for your next meeting, telling you what you will need to address and how to address it. They will also invite your questions to ensure you know what you need to succeed in each meeting. Your sales champion is an insider, and the education they offer you is about how to navigate the sales process for their organization. This contact needs to tell you what value you need to create for different people or departments.

A lot of salespeople need more help from their champions. This is especially true when navigating the company and its sales process. Without this help, it is easy to step on a concealed landmine. Asking your champion to prepare you for conversations with other stakeholders can make it easier for you to succeed in them.

Influence Inside Their Company

You might know that once you leave your client's conference room, the people you spoke with have a conversation without you. This is the invisible deliberation you can only access through a sales champion who shares the conversation with you. Your champion needs to use their influence to promote you, or sometimes, defend you.

You must do good work to earn your champion’s influence through many sales conversations. This person is using their relationship capital on your behalf, and you must make certain they will do so because they believe you create the greatest value. If you provide enough value, your champion will prefer you enough that they will spend that relationship capital. Your sales champion goes above and beyond to help you win their business.

The Value of a Sales Champion

To succeed in sales, find a sales champion. This person should be able to provide potential opportunities, access to other contacts, an understanding of the client's company, support throughout the sales process, and influence inside the company. A sales champion can provide invaluable help in understanding the company, navigating their sales process, and using their influence to promote you. Ultimately, do good work to earn your champion's trust and influence.

Sales 2023
Post by Anthony Iannarino on January 1, 2023

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.
ai-cold-calling-video-sidebar-offer-1 Sales-Accelerator-Virtual-Event-Bundle-ad-square
salescall-planner-ebook-v3-1-cover (1)

Are You Ready To Solve Your Sales Challenges?


Hi, I’m Anthony. I help sales teams make the changes needed to create more opportunities & crush their sales targets. What we’re doing right now is working, even in this challenging economy. Would you like some help?

Solve for Sales

Join my Weekly Newsletter for Sales Tips

Join 100,000+ sales professionals in my weekly newsletter and get my Guide to Becoming a Sales Hustler eBook for FREE!