Most sales professionals strive to sell directly to the DM. This is possible on certain SMB deals, but typically the sales cycle starts with the ‘champion.’
A ‘Champion’ is an influencer who has a stake in the deal and the ability to help sell up the chain. A Champion understands the business needs, what matters to the DM and are able to help you sell the value of your solution to the decision makers.
Champions can be a powerful ally, especially in complex deal cycles. They help you to understand the business challenges, pain and compelling event driving this initiative. They also are transparent up front about potential obstacles in the path to PO and help you close the loop. Great champions are problem solvers and partners in the deal. They are important resources that need to be nurtured and empowered for success.
Understanding how to identify and empower the right champion early in the sales cycle is critical to success.
The problem: You have what appears to be a hot lead. The discovery reveals pain and you see this opportunity as leading to complete quota relief. The problem is you don’t have the Decision Maker on the call. The ‘champion’ supposedly has influence, but their are some holes:
- They cannot explain the approval process or funding process for this project
- They have no idea about budget
- They cannot give you the decision makers name
- They cannot get you in front of other key stakeholders you need to meet with
These are red flags that indicate your contact is not a champion/influencer. They may be genuinely interested in your product, but at the end of the line they have no champion power to impact the sale and the deal will fall through.
Make sure you dig in deep on the IQM to understand the champion’s role in the process.
A great Champion is a partner who:
- Has a clear understanding of how to sell up the chain and what key stakeholders need to be involved for approval.
- They have the power and influence to get you in front the decision makers and will coach you beforehand to ensure success
- They understand the value and impact to their organization and can explain that ROI to the the C-Suite
- They are willing to put their neck on the line by vouching for your company and the deal
It is important that you empower and help the champion. They are a resource and you need to establish trust and provide value to their needs.
- When working with a champion – find out what they care about in their day to day. What personal stake do they have in your solution. Ex: Champion has to spend four hours a week on data importation and your solution can reduce it to 20 minutes – that extra time will free them from tedious work and be able to tackle other business objectives outside of tedious admin work
- What do they value
- How does the buyer think and communicate
- Speak to their pain and help them be able to sell that pain to the CEO
- This is tricky because Champions in the trenches usually understand the value of improving processes because they are in the trenches. The issue is how to they sell the value of their pain to the DM and the metrics they care about.
- First dive into the champions pain and show you are an ally in fixing their bottlenecks – while also tapping into discovering what the CEO/DM cares about.
- The CEO cares about cost savings. How can you tie your solutions with the champion and CEO’s goals to ensure that you get buy-in across the board.
- Provide the resources and help the champion needs to present to other stakeholders. The ideal is getting a DM on a call directly, but sometimes a champion has to cell the value to the board/DM first and that means you need to ‘coach’ them to present your solution.
- Provide them with highly targeted content to spearhead how your product can solve the organization’s business objectives. This content needs to explain how you benefit the champion and their specific role, but also the greater organization and the metrics the business cares about.
- Establish what the DM cares about and ensure you build that value with champion as well – so it is a win-win
Champions are are heroes in the sales cycle – respect them and work with them so you both win!