Your prospects don’t spend much time thinking about you. Even while they go through the process of evaluating vendors and making a decision, they’re juggling a million other things that aren’t related. The quality of a vendor’s engagement with stakeholders makes all the difference between a closed-won and a closed-lost deal.
“To get the attention of a stakeholder, you must engage with them about the problems they are trying to solve. The best way to do that is to provide them with information that is more compelling than whatever is already drawing their attention and focus.” You must be agile enough to adjust your message to appeal to the unique interests and struggles they face.
Map Stakeholder Roles Including Their Reasons to Engage
Stakeholders don’t have the same motivations as one another, especially when they engage with you. Some play the part of champion to further a partnership. Some are influencers, while others are decision makers.
Some may even be detractors, engaging you only because they have a different solution in mind, or they perceive the change your champion is proposing as a threat.
“You need to learn what is driving their unique interests and tailor your messaging to the way they perceive value.” Know their motivations => know how to approach them.
If you uncover detractors whose motivations run counter to your objectives, try to neutralize their influence:
- Seek to understand their objections so you can educate them on why the value of implementing your solution outweighs the risks.
- Engage with them with the explicit intent to build trust.
- In some cases, you’ll have to remove them entirely from the equation by reducing the solution’s scope or impact.
- Work at building a coalition of stakeholders with more authority and influence who will counter the negative influencer on the team.
Champions close deals, but don’t underestimate your ability to influence perspectives and momentum. The more you target your strategy to fit the customer you’re working with, the more likely they’ll be to close a deal with you.
Start By Laying Out the Buying Process
You’ve found them, but now what do you talk with them about? This is where you transform from being just another seller in the mix to being a guide and a buyer coach.
Walk them through the buying process.
They need to know what to expect based on your industry, product, and organization, including the steps they’ll need to take at each stage. They’ve never gone through that combination of factors before. In fact, they rarely buy. You, however, work on a team of people who’ve possibly led hundreds of customers through a similar journey.
Show them what to expect and remove the mystery. They will be more likely to commit to each stage if they know what those stages are and what’s expected.
“Map out a specific buying process that you can share with your buyer and that they can engage with as an accurate representation of what they will need to go through to make a purchasing decision.”
You don’t need a finished product right away. Put together a coherent starting point based on the deals you’ve closed with other, similar customers.
Sales Skills for Engagement
If you’re training your team on skills for best-in-class engagement tactics, or simply want to up-level your own, focus on these four:
- Punch their pain
- Create urgency
- Clearly explain your solution’s advantages
- Preemptively address common objections
Punch their pain. Emphasize the issues they’re dealing with right now. They might have gotten so used to old processes that they can’t feel how uncomfortable the current circumstance is. By showing them the difficulties they currently face, you can motivate them to make change.
Create urgency. Educate them on the cost of delay. Few stakeholders will feel the drive to resolve things as quickly as you. But a focused sense of urgency keeps them engaged in the sales process. You might not yet be to the point of full product education. Instead, help them feel that inaction equals missed opportunities.
Clearly explain your solutions’ advantages. Customers should feel they matter more to you than your competitors. If conversation turns to the competitive landscape, be transparent about how others can help, but highlight your unique selling proposition—the jobs you can do for them better than anyone else. Openness builds trust and helps avoid the distraction of your bias. Don’t fall into the trap of disparaging others.
Preemptively address common objections. Get out in front of deal blockers early. Don’t sweep risks or concerns under the rug. Bring them out into the open. Prove you’re aware of the risks (whether real or perceived) and be clear about how to mitigate them or avoid them entirely.
Continue Selling Between Meetings
You cannot afford to leave the space between meetings uninfluenced. Buyers spend less than 17% of their buying process with all vendors. If there are 3 vendors in consideration, you’ve got maybe 5% of their time live to make an impression. That’s not enough.
Leverage high-impact, digital content. “These gaps provide a huge opportunity to maintain momentum, keep the buying group engaged and focused, and discover and engage other stakeholders.”
Consider the kinds of engagement you normally conduct between meetings and start thinking about what you could send instead that would be beneficial to both you and the customer. It should answer questions, reinforce a business case, and further build confidence.
“If structured correctly, technology can help you capture what each person is most interested in.” Technology, such as our own product Consensus, can be used to send a contact an automated demo. As that demo is shared with other stakeholders, the platform allows them to tailor the demo to their interests and logs what selections they make giving you insights into their motives.