You are not going to win deals without helping your clients develop consensus within their own teams. This is one of the major changes to how we sell, and there are five factors to succeed. Let’s look at all five and how you can get to consensus.
There is no longer a single person with authority within your dream client’s company. There is someone to sign off on an agreement, but that won’t happen until you’ve been vetted by their team. You need authority, but they aren’t interested in you until you’ve done the work building consensus.
2. Economic Buyers
Everyone is responsible for the economic well-being of their company. Everyone has a line on the profit and loss statement on which they are being measured. We are all economic buyers now. You no longer have to wait for purchasing or supply chain managers to talk about the economics of your solutions. Everyone is going to ask you about price.
3. Sponsors, Supporters and Coaches
You used to need a coach to give you information. You used to need a sponsor. Now you need coaches (plural). Now you need sponsors (plural). Now you need supporters (plural again). If you can’t find an executive sponsor -- what I call the "CEO of the Problem" -- you aren’t going to easily build consensus.
4. Buy In
Your dream client contact wants to be sure their team buys into the decision that you, and your team, are the right choice. They want buy in on the solution. They want to know their team stands behind it, supports it, and will execute on it. The people with the authority to sign a deal do not want to see you unless you have this buy in.
If what you sell isn’t tied to some strategic initiative, it’s going to be hard to get funding. But if you work deep enough in the organization, those sponsors, supporters, and coaches will help you make the case for your product or service. They will help you make the connection.
So how do you deal with all of this?
- Start with the CEO of the Problem: You don’t need a C-level person’s support or sponsorship. You need the highest-level person with the greatest influence and the greatest ownership of the problem you solve. This sponsor can get you both higher level sponsors and lower level sponsors. They’re your linchpin.
- Gain access early: You want to gain access to everyone on the buying committee, formal or informal. You want to meet with them alone to capture their needs and to craft a value proposition that meets their specific needs. You want to meet with them in groups to work out what your solution needs to look like. You want to mitigate any challenges as you move forward.
- Deal with the investments: If you are dealing with price late in the sales process, you’ve missed an opportunity. You can eliminate much of the push back at the end of the process if you gain agreement on what the necessary investments are throughout the process, showing all of the economic buyers what different investment levels will deliver. Engage with them around investments early, and make sure they recognize the outcomes in which they are investing.
- Find a hook to something bigger: Ask your sponsors, supporters, and coaches how the change that they need is tied to their companies bigger goals and initiatives. They know the answers and they’ll share them with you, but you have to ask. When you give them a compelling solution, you make it easy for them to defend by having this conversation early and often.
- Deal with obstacles: Consensus doesn’t mean everyone agrees. It means that the obstacles agree to move forward without disrupting the implementation or execution because they know it's what’s best for the company. You can’t deal with these obstacles alone. The team you are building inside your client’s company can exercise their influxes to get your obstacles to stand down. But you help them by taking the obstacles objections seriously and doing all you can to mitigate any problems.
If you are going to win, you are going to need consensus. Follow the steps outlined here to build it.
About the Author
Anthony Iannarino is an author, speaker, and entrepreneur. He has been named one of the top 25 most influential people in sales by both OpenView Partners and Top Sales World.
Learn more sales tips from Anthony in the free Salesforce e-book below.