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Selling with Champions

  • by Elay Cohen
  • December 16, 2015

Selling with Champions

Selling with Champions: Pick any deal you’re working on right now and forecasting to close in 2015.

“How aligned are you with your champion on solving their top priorities & initiatives?”

Take a moment to self-assess.  Give yourself a rating out of five where one is not very aligned (vendor relationship) and five is very aligned (trusted partner relationship). Be honest.  

A one-rating is marked by infrequent communications, limited sharing of what’s going on, where a five-rating is usually coupled with full disclosure and a professional texting relationship.

Now that you have a deal in your mind, and a score, let’s dive into some proven tactics to better align and sell with champions. (There will be another self-assessment at the end.)

Selling with Champions Tip #1: Align With Top Initiatives

What top initiative are we solving? Remember, we’re solving problems. We’re not selling products and services.  Is the problem we’re solving our champion’s top priority?  How will our champion be measured and compensated on the success of this initiative? What is the compelling reason to act now?  How real is the compelling event? Aligning with a champion’s top priority shifts our project from a “nice to have” to a “must have” solution.

Selling With Champions Tip #2: Co-Create Mutual Plans

Our job is to guide our customers through the journey of solving their problems. We’re the experts. We’ve done this before. We know what success looks like. We know how to avoid project pitfalls. We know all the steps required to realize the benefits of our solutions.  The success plan (aka mutual plan, close plan) is intended to help champions rally resources internally to achieve their stated goals. Success plans are most effective when they’re co-created with a champion and validated with economic buyers, decision makers, and all influencers.

Selling with Champions Tip #3: Map Influencers & Decision-Makers

How does your organizational-political map look like?  Take the time to build it out with your champion. If the champion isn’t ready, then go back to aligning with top initiatives. Push back usually means vendor-relationship versus trusted-partner relationship. The exercise of mapping out influencers and decision maker is designed to uncover blind spots and competing organizational goals and priorities.  Uncovering the decision making process and all key influencers, reduces the risk of a project going sideways.

Selling with Champions Tip #4: Create Executive Summaries

We all want to share all the details our champions need to communicate our value. Doing it succinctly with brevity in mind is very hard. We tend to overwhelm and not focus on what’s most important. Rather than sending a sixty slide deck, why not send one slide? Our champions insert one slide in a presentation that is being presented by the economic sponsor to a committee, board or CEO. The slide (a single one page doc is good too) should include: goals, success metrics, expected outcomes, project timeline,

Selling With Champions Tip #5:  Be Grateful

The position of trusted advisor with a champion is very fortunate.  Show gratitude by going the extra mile to make champions successful. Recognize their great work. Be transparent. Always CC your champion on every email. Be inclusive. Be direct. Be human. Send hand-written thank you notes when shared milestones are achieved.  Always be grateful to your champion and don’t forget to be grateful to all influencers, decision makers, and executive assistants too. Things always change in companies. If a deal isn’t ready to happen now, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future.

Now take that same deal and self-assess now against the five “selling with champion” tips.

How do your deals really look?

What blind spots did you uncover?

What are your next steps?

If you and your team are interested in working through these selling with champion tips, request a SalesHood trial today to elevate your sales results. We’ll prescribe a just-in-time sales learning and coaching program to execute right now, in November, without taking your teams out of the field.

What would happen to your year if all your deals and relationships have a winning “selling with champions” strategy?

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About the Author
Elay Cohen

Elay Cohen

Elay Cohen is the author of SalesHood: How Winning Sales Managers Inspire Sales Teams to Succeed and the co-founder of SalesHood, a SaaS sales enablement platform and community for sales professionals. Elay is the former Senior Vice President of Sales Productivity at Salesforce. Recognized as the company's "2011 Top Executive", and credited for creating and executing all of Salesforce's sales productivity programs that accelerated its growth from $300M to $3B+ in revenue. The sales training and sales support innovations delivered over these years by Elay and his team to thousands of sales reps resulted in unprecedented hypergrowth. He also created the Partner Relationship Management (PRM) category.

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