Do you want a sale to succeed? Then you absolutely need to support your champions.
I’ll tell you why in a moment, but first, let’s define what exactly a champion is. In B2B sales, the champion is the person on the buying team who believes your products or services are the right fit for their organization, so they are willing to advocate on your behalf.
Your champions are a huge factor in whether a deal is successful or not. That’s why it makes sense to give them every possible tool to positively represent you within their company.
According to a recent study by the Harvard Business Review, the number of champions willing to push for a certain product more than doubled as organizational support for that product grew, creating a cycle of increasing support. All sales reps need is that first push from a champion to get the cycle started.
It’s not quite as easy as pushing a go button, unfortunately. Despite being willing to buy a product, half of B2B buyers are not willing to publicly advocate for it, according to CEB.
There are many reasons why champions would be hesitant to promote a solution. They may not see any personal gain or fear they might look stupid vying for a product that doesn’t gain final consensus. As a sales rep, your job is to find out what is holding your champion back and provide them with the information they need to succeed.
Don’t see any personal gain? Show them how promoting your product will benefit their credibility.
Afraid of looking stupid? Give them concrete knowledge and statistics that establish them as solution experts.
There are several main actions you can take that will have a significant effect on the success of a sale. Here they are:
1. Respond quickly to their requests
Don’t leave your champions hanging high and dry. If they tell their boss that they’ll be able to get product information or supporting statistics for your solution, and you can’t deliver within a reasonable amount of time, you’ve essentially invalidated your champion’s credibility. Instead, get your champions the information they need right when they need it, and they will gain authority within the buying team.
2. Provide quality, unbiased content
Your champions want more than presentation after presentation prating on about how great your product is. They want resources they can use to prove how making a switch to your product will make a positive difference for their company. That means including informative, unbiased third-party publications, research statistics and industry insight into the mix of resources that you send to your champions. Definitely include helpful materials like case studies and product feature sheets, but if that’s all you’re sending, your champion is going to have a hard time validating the decision to the rest of the buying team and C-suite executives.
3. Challenge their thinking
Your buyer is coming to you with a need, some pain point that needs to be fixed for their company. Yes, you can sell them the missing puzzle piece that fits the hole they’ve found, but what if there are more holes they don’t even know about? The analogy is a stretch, but the idea is sound: buyers don’t always know what they need.
As a sales rep, you should be an industry expert on what your buyer needs and what outcomes are possible for them, and you should use this information to help your champion expand his or her thinking. In your conversations with your champion, ask them to consider more than just their immediate problem or situation. Here are some examples:
“John, I know we’ve discussed your immediate goals for this product, but have you considered how business growth might impact those goals in the next five years?”
“Amy, what are your thoughts on how these services will impact the legal department? Does your organization have defined expectations for how marketing will fit into the overall solution?”
These types of ideas are what your champion will use to elevate your solution to the C-level.
4. Help them position value/create a business case
The C-suite isn’t nearly as interested in why a product will fix a specific problem as they are in how a product will improve overall business objectives. That’s where you come in. Often, it can be hard to quantify the effect that a product will have, but using statistics, case studies and industry research to position a sharpened message about high-level value to the company is essential to appeal to C-level executives.
Yes, your champion might be able to create a business case on his own, but two heads are better than one. You have the product and industry insight, your champion has the business insight, and together you both have the knowledge needed to create a stellar business case.
5. Help build their credibility/make them look knowledgeable
Which member of the buying team is going to hold more weight in the decision making process: the person who has no idea what they’re talking about or the person who sounds like an industry expert? The answer is a no-brainer, but the sad truth is that most sales reps don’t bother educating their champions beyond simply sending sales materials their way.
Don’t settle for just emailing statistics to your champion. Talk with your champion. Discuss the problem, how it can be avoided and how different solutions will achieve different results. Provide them with insight on how your competitors’ solutions excel and fail. The more knowledgeable your champions seem, the more credibility and influence they’ll have within their business team.
Sounds like a lot of work, huh? Perhaps it seems that way at first, but you have to think of the outcome: a shorter selling cycle, less work convincing more people and an easier time elevating the sale within the organization.
The crux of the matter is this: Make your champion’s job easier, and your champion will do the same for you.
The champion is only one side of the coin. Help your sales reps facilitate easy collaboration with their champions through Accent Accelerate. Schedule a demo to see how!