You’ve just met someone you’re super excited about. It’s a new contact who, you think, wants to buy from your company. Done deal right? They obviously are your champion. They’re excited about your solution and they want to know more, but is that enough? What makes a contact a champion?
AND when should you walk away? Garin Hess, our fearless founder and CEO, outlines how discovering your champion early in the buying process is crucial but doesn’t always go the way you plan, and describes what to look for in a champion and when to walk away.
Don’t Fall For Love at First Sight
The first phase of the DEEP-C ™ buyer enablement methodology is Discovery. “Until you discover at least one true champion inside the target organization, you have no chance at getting traction with a deal.”
So you have a contact within an organization who you think is your champion. They attend every meeting and are engaged in the process. But loving the product and being a champion are two different concepts.
You’ll know a contact is a champion if they, among other things:
- Advocate before you ask
- Share content you send them with others potentially in the buying group
- Are willing to take risks
- Have a personal stake in the outcome
Don’t be blinded by contacts who like the product or say what you want to hear in calls. “A true champion will make and keep commitments that move the buying process forward.” No amount of excitement about a solution will close a deal. Real champions are the ones who contribute to the buying process.
They Love Me, They Love Me Not
Often, the first contact we make at an organization is who we look to to be our champion. It may turn out that they are, but even if they seem enthusiastic about you, you have to be sure they’ll support you. “It takes courage; an ability to build consensus by working through differing interests, opinions, and concerns; and an unyielding desire to effect change to be an effective B2B buying champion.”
Watch for the following signs that the contact you have isn’t the champion you need:
- They meet with you week after week, but never take risks to advocate your solution.
- They can’t coherently speak about your message.
- They lack the influence* inside the organization to promote your solution.
*This may or may not be a detractor since even lower-level contributors can be a champion, but it’s something to consider when finding your true champion.
This contact may not be your champion, but they might be your lead into finding other stakeholders. Once you have found additional stakeholders, ask them questions like, “Would you be willing to take the lead in heading up with change inside your organization?” or “Would you be willing to take this solution and drive the consensus required to achieve these results?” A true champion will commit to these requests and, more importantly, follow through!
Dumping Your Champion
Sometimes, the champion just isn’t that into you, and that’s ok! Not everyone is going to like your solution (we have people who aren’t a good fit for us). Sometimes, you need to walk away and let go, but how do you know if you should stay or go?
The champion is probably still excited about the solution, but, if they aren’t helping the deal move along in any meaningful way, you have to evaluate if the time you’re spending on them is building to anything.
You need to recognize when it’s a lost cause (or not your strongest lever to press) and time to focus your energy elsewhere. “Every minute of time and every ounce of energy we spend on a prospect who isn’t interested is time and energy we could be spending on a prospect who truly is a great candidate.” Champions who can’t properly advocate for your solution aren’t going to help close the deal, no matter how much they may say they want to.
When we say “dump your champion,” we don’t mean permanently. You can put them in a nurture campaign and always reach out at another time. But stop spending quality time on a person who isn’t willing to commit to you (and by you, we mean your solution).
Happily Ever After
Once you’ve found your champion, you can ride off into the sunset together…I mean close the deal. Having a champion within the organization is key to completing the sale because they do the selling for you when you aren’t there, which is most of the time. Making sure the contact you’re working with will be your champion might be tricky, but is necessary to reaching your goal.