In almost every sale, there’s a coach or a champion—someone who serves as the advocate for the salesperson or the proposed solution. If the champion is also the economic decision maker, it becomes a very easy sale. More often than not, however, the champion is just a great ally. They provide the salesperson insider information, helping the rep understand the lay of the land and guiding sellers toward a closed deal. Too often, salespeople don’t leverage the full potential of their champions.
Once a rep has identified the champion, they are usually good at building the relationship. But sales enablement can offer another layer to help reps fully activate the champion relationship. In today’s complex world, it’s very possible (in fact, desirable and expected) that the salesperson has information and insight that can be valuable to the champion. Remember, a key factor in fostering a champion relationship is understanding and supporting that individual’s personal success. We see too many reps failing to use their insights to help their champions be more effective.
One important but underutilized strategy is for the salesperson to provide insight to the champion in the form of written content. This champion or coach content is developed by sales enablement and designed to help your advocate sell on your behalf. It should be tailored for the selling situation, developed from the lens of your champion, and designed to be their own. It should make the champion look smarter (a personal benefit to them) and help position you and your solution in the minds of other influencers to whom you may not have access.
For example, our client Erin is the sales enablement leader at a technology firm in Boston. One of the high-performing salespeople, Patrick, was working on a deal for a large business services firm, and Erin helped him win the deal by providing content for his champion. The champion, Ryan, was an influencer, but not the ultimate decision maker. But Patrick had developed a good relationship with Ryan and become a trusted advisor. Ryan was still relatively new in his role, and because Patrick understood the space so well, he knew the key issues that needed to be addressed.
They talked about what his priorities should be for the next year, and how Patrick could help him achieve those through technology. Patrick went back to Erin’s sales enablement team, who equipped Patrick with a strategic road map presentation that Ryan could make his own. Patrick knew he wouldn’t be able to get a meeting with the C-level executives, so the road map presentation included the messages they wanted those senior leaders to hear. In this way, Ryan became Patrick’s proxy, delivering his point of view and insight to those executives in internal meetings.
Patrick also coached Ryan on the key messages. “Here's a three-year business development plan.” “Here are four priority pillars.” “Here are these issues and potential pitfalls to avoid.” And of course, a key element of that message was the importance of Patrick’s technology solution. Several days later, Ryan used the presentation with his team to define his larger strategy. He eventually shared it with senior leadership as part of the budgeting process, which resulted in funding for Patrick’s technology solution. Ryan was selling on Patrick’s behalf, delivering key messages to an audience Patrick would not be able to gain direct access to.
In partnership with sales enablement, Patrick had made Ryan’s job much easier. And by leveraging the insights and experience of Patrick’s organization, Ryan came across as more thoughtful about the sector, despite being new to the field. Bottom line, Patrick had created real value for Ryan. Of course, Ryan didn’t have to use the content; but because he agreed with Patrick’s recommendations and had a trusted relationship, that strategic road map made it easier for him. And, the information was received by senior leadership as credible because it was delivered by Ryan, an internal person leadership knew and trusted.
The idea isn’t to manipulate the buyer in any way, or to do his job for him. It’s what sellers are supposed to be doing all along: offering insight that moves the deal forward. Sales enablement plays a key role in crafting, packaging, and tailoring the messaging for the champion.
If your seller’s champion is part of a team considering a major purchase, help them out. Consider their goals. What do they want to achieve in the next year? Then, working with the sales team, create content that defines the changing market and the industry trends. The content can also help provide process guidance about making a complex purchase. Include key requirements to consider. Help champions understand any approaches to addressing these trends that might be wrong. Chances are your sellers have seen the buying process dozens or hundreds of times, but this might be the first time your buyer has made this purchase. Especially if it’s a complex purchase that requires lots of internal alignment, the champion will need help navigating the deal and should be forewarned about the pitfalls.
Build content to guide champions so they sell within their organizations on your behalf. With a focus on champion-oriented content, sales enablement helps sellers gain access to the decision makers, build stronger relationships, and win deals.