Coaching your champion to close the deal ties it all together. “Core to buyer enablement is a fundamental shift in how you think about yourself. Are you a seller or a buying coach?” At a minimum, your champion needs to know:
- The big process for getting to close
- The individual tasks, with ownership, that make up the process
- The obstacles they will face along with how to overcome them
- The roles they need to involve, with all the questions and concerns that come with them
They’re not trained to know or to navigate these. You have to guide them.
Recommend, Commit, Facilitate
If buying were a sport, the coach (you) could give players (buyers) advice from the sidelines, but you couldn’t play for them. They’re on the field. You are not.
To be effective in your role you’ll need to:
- Strongly recommend – Instead of waiting for the customer to tell you what they think, recommend the steps and actions they should follow, but justify your recommendations.
- Ask for commitments – Define what comes next by asking for specific commitments in a way that secures clear accountability. Document expectations and timelines and follow up often enough to help course correct, or encourage, as needed.
- Facilitate and be a resource – Show them what fulfilling those commitments looks like and how they impact the process. It may require that you bring in different experts and resources, but most importantly you need to anticipate their needs before they ask.
The language you use will help or hinder your ability to be effective.
Recommendations – Best Practice Tip: Use phrases like these for making recommendations related to the buying process are more engaging:
- “In my experience working with other companies trying to solve this challenge, I have found… I strongly recommend…”
- If you don’t mind, would it be all right with you if I offer some advice about what I see as the most effective process?
Commitments – Best Practice Tip: Asking for commitments are moments of truth. They’ll either say yes and you can move forward, or they’ll say no and you now have to discover critical things about the deal you didn’t know before. Strong but deferential phrases like these are more likely to prompt action with commitments:
- “Will you…”
- “This is something best done by you as the internal advocate. Could you…”
Facilitate – Best Practice Tip: You have to be proactive to adequately facilitate champions. Anticipate needs using deal histories with similar customers. And make sure you have your champions back with the rest of the buying group.
- Provide job aids and toolkits suchs as GDPR docs and financial ROI spreadsheets
- Implementation project guides and templates
- Be a resource and an advocate for your champion, just as they’re an advocate for you.
Learn Respectful Confrontation
Some commitments might be difficult to tackle. Change management is hard work. The scope and scale of major transformations can intimidate anyone.
“Being the buying coach requires that you challenge the status quo. Ask the tough questions and require your prospect to consider what happens if they don’t change it.” Without getting the champion to agree to sometimes hard requirements, the deal can stall.
Make your customer uncomfortable enough to embrace and advocate for change, but don’t leave them to wallow in that discomfort. They’re putting their reputation, and often their job, on the line to support your solution and accept commitments. But they’ll follow through when you build and maintain trust through regular support and coaching.
Create an Ongoing Coaching Program
Coaching doesn’t stop once the deal is signed. “Companies need to equip and coach the champion post-sale as much or more as during the sale.”
Buyers generally need ongoing guidance but often feel they don’t get it. The responsibility does not rest completely on the shoulder of sales or presales, but you can help by setting up processes that continue to employ buyer enablement principals.
One of the most crucial times for coaching is during implementation. “If the Champion can lead an effective implementation, they will realize the value your solution provides and be much more likely to renew.”
The primary shift in objectives when moving from initial purchase to a renewal is the adoption of your solution. If they use it, they’ll renew. Create implementation and adoption guides, provide case studies for how similar organizations drove adoption, offer end user training fitted to their setup. Make your team as sticky and essential as your product.