Building A Champion Within Your Prospects’ Organization

Greater competition, longer sales cycles, and more multi-buyer decisions mean sales professionals who can identify, engage, and empower a champion have a major win-rate advantage over those who don’t.

This champion acts as an advocate, selling your product or service when you're not present.

Accomplished AEs understand that cultivating a champion has nothing to do with luck or chance. It requires strategy, empathy, and a deep understanding of organizational dynamics.

The Profile of a Champion

Put simply, he or she is someone with access to power, sells for you when you are not there, and is well regarded within the organization. He or she will do much, if not all, the work for the sales team.

This person could be an individual contributor or a leader of a team. Rarely are they a senior executive.

The champion will make sure the economic buyer understands the value proposition and will not torpedo the deal at the finish line. Sometimes they require a nuanced ROI deck. Other times it is a hallway conversation.

The champion provides the sales team with insider info to ensure they don't shoot themselves in the foot by saying the wrong thing to the wrong people.

The champion will navigate your deal through the legal and procurement processes. He or she will ensure these groups know yours is the preferred solution and will find out if there are emerging issues that will kill the deal.

The best champion will work to ensure your competitors' champion is not successful.

If your champion isn’t doing these things for you, then your “insider” is not a true champion.

How to Find Your Champion

The most common mistake many reps make is confusing "champion" for a nice and friendly person. They are cheerleaders, but not change agents willing to stick their neck out for you.

The first step is identifying the right person within the prospect's organization.

  • Look for someone with influence within the organization, whether it's through their position, expertise, or network. Seldom are they economic buyers, but they sway opinion behind the scene, rally support, and drive decisions often quietly.
  • A champion should be genuinely enthusiastic about the transformational benefits that your product or service can provide their organization.
  • Ensure that the champion's goals align with yours. They should see the value in what you're offering and understand how it can benefit their organization. You must understand why the champion is motivated to help you. In other words, what’s in it for him or her.

Enabling the Champion

Your champion can’t help you if you don’t provide them with the tools, resources, and support they need to succeed.

  • Offer training sessions or materials that equip the champion with in-depth knowledge about your product or service. Ensure they understand its features, benefits, and value proposition.
  • Provide marketing materials, case studies, and testimonials that the champion can use to make a compelling case for your offering to their colleagues and superiors.
  • Be available to answer any questions or address concerns the champion may have. Offer guidance and assistance throughout the sales process, from the initial pitch to the final negotiations.
  • Acknowledge and celebrate the champion's efforts and successes. Publicly recognize their contributions within their organization, which can further motivate them to advocate on your behalf.

Wrap up

Cultivating a champion should be a crucial part of your sales strategy. Giving your champion the tools and support they need will enable them to sell for you when you're not present. To work, this process requires careful planning, empathy, and a genuine commitment to building meaningful relationships.

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