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From Decision Makes to Networks of Influence

Today, there is no “decision maker.” He or she has been replaced by a network of stakeholders, all holding the power to say “No.” Because no matter how many internal champions you have at your strategic customer, it only takes one “blocker” to kill an otherwise perfect deal. We’ve all experienced some version of this familiar story: You’ve brought your customer the perfect project that solves an established pain point. It aligns with their long-term strategy. It’s quantified using the customer’s own metrics. And best of all, it’s a solution that your company is uniquely positioned to provide. And yet the deal stalls out because you didn’t get buy-in from Legal. Or Procurement. Or the VP of Such and-Such. And this is the best-case scenario when you lose a deal. Most of the time, you don’t even know who threw up the stop sign…so you pull out the whiteboard to see what you missed.

You’ll probably learn something from this exercise, and that’s good. But did you have to wait until you’d lost a big deal (or, god forbid, a customer) to start creating relationship maps? Of course not. And you shouldn’t.

Selling is no longer simply about reaching the right job titles with the right messages. It’s about helping your customer decide to solve one particular problem at the expense of the entire universe of problems they could be solving. It’s about creating consensus across a diverse set of customer stakeholders and engaging them with information and resources that help them navigate their buying process.

In short, it’s about incredible customer engagement.

But first, you need to know who your customer stakeholders are, understand what motivates them and ensure you have high, wide and deep relationships with everyone at the customer who matters.

In short: you need to have an efficient, repeatable process for finding, mapping and influencing your customer stakeholders.

So why is this so flipping difficult?

Wait for next week to get part 2 or get the Full Guide to Relationship Management