Buying decisions are more and more being made democratically. The idea that there is a single point of authority, or two, or three is outdated. Getting better results is too important, and the decisions critical to ensuring that these results are obtained are taking more and more opinions into account.
The power to make a decision is getting spread over a greater number of decision-makers (whatever those are now), decision-influencers, and stakeholders. Understanding and collecting the buying committee relationships, as well as relationships with those who influence the buying committee, is a necessary objective to winning your dream client.
You and What Army?
Regardless of where you get in, you need to make sure you find your way vertically north and south through your dream client’s organization. There is one question that you must ask and have answered, regardless of who you are working with and regardless of their position on the organizational chart:
“Who else do we need on our team in order to make this happen?”
If you are towards the bottom end of the organizational chart because you found your way in through a dissatisfied stakeholder, it is all but certain that you will need to add others with more formal authority to your initiative. Pretending otherwise leads to all kinds of problems, including going through the sales process only to find that there is no budget to implement a change initiative, no will to change, or that there are massive entrenched interests aligned against you.
Salespeople also make the same mistake going the other direction.
Even if you have come in at the C-level, it’s unlikely that the authority to sign a contract is enough to push your opportunity over the line. Working only at this level comes with another whole set of problems, including capturing a needs analysis from only the C-suite’s view (missing the ground truth), not building the relationships with the people who have the real power, and making enemies of those you will need on your team if your change initiative is to succeed.
Build your army before you need it, and you will need it!
To get anything done within your dream client’s company (or your own company for that matter), you need relationships.
You need the relationships with the people who can help you get things done and who can help move your initiative forward, starting from the time you target your dream client, to the time you achieve the outcomes promised, all the way through to the point that dissatisfaction makes another round.
Every relationship within your dream client has the potential to help you create additional relationships within their company—and beyond. Your sales process—and your personal best practices—need to include discovering who else you need on your team, and then asking to have them join you.
How frequent is it that there is only one person with the authority and the autonomy to buy from you?
How frequent is it that only one person is impacted by the decision whether or not to purchase what it is that you sell?
How does bringing others who will benefit from your solution to the table strengthen your solution? How does it increase the odds of you being chosen to help your dream client achieve their business objectives?
What are the risks of adding others to the sales process, when some of them may be obstacles or who may oppose any change initiative? What are the risks of not adding them?