Sales reps typically want to go straight to the decision maker. However, in most organizations, the decision maker is supported by a network of team members who can also influence the outcome of the deal. As a result, developing skills to deepen trust with everyone in the customer organization is vital.

Keep reading for four strategies and skills to help differentiate your organization from your competitors by creating a strong brand based on collaborating with the customer to help them achieve their most important objectives:

1. Identify the Players 

This wider network of contacts is sometimes referred to as the "circle of influence," and it can be broken down into four categories:

  • Financial focus: This is usually someone with financial authority. If they don’t trust your ability to deliver a solution that's within the budget, they can block the deal from moving forward, even if the decision maker likes some aspects of your offer.
  • Functional focus: This person might be involved in operations or some other production-related activity. The decision maker may be the one to green light the purchase, but this person may be primarily responsible for implementing the solution and using it every day.
  • Technical focus: This person could be associated with any team or department within the organization, though they are often found in IT. They will want the specs; they will compare all options; and they usually prefer the latest and best technology.
  • Gatekeepers: These people are admins who support any of the key people you need to talk to, including the decision maker. They are primarily interested in making their boss successful. They provide services that will help the boss be more efficient and reach important goals.

2. Expand Relationships

Developing an effective strategy for building relationships across the organization starts during the account planning process. It is here that you begin to map out everything you possibly can about the structure of the customer’s organization. Don’t just limit your research to the decision maker; develop as much background as you can on everyone in the decision maker’s circle of influence who could have an impact on the sales process.

3. Build Trust By Earning It

Once you have developed a comprehensive contact list for your target account, you go about building relationships with these people in exactly the same way that you would with the decision maker. 

  • Focus on helping instead of selling
  • Ask good questions and be a great listener
  • Discover what they value, and make sure they receive that value
  • Think outside the box and find ways to meet their needs

4. Be Consistent

Keep your behavior consistent during all your interactions across the customer organization and provide everyone with the same level of respect and support that you would give the decision maker.

About the author

Walter RogersWalter Rogers has created and led businesses in 13 countries on three continents, has been interviewed on over 100 shows on CNN, CBS, and ABC on the topics of sales, CRM, sales management and corporate productivity, is on the Advisory Board of DePaul University Center for Sales Leadership and was a Texas eCommerce Awards finalist for two consecutive years. His passion for CRM enabled sales performance transformation inspired his two books, Pathways to Growth, co-written with business partner Tony Robbins, and Spark!

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