We’ve talked extensively about the absolute necessity to collaborate between departments, now let’s take you backstage to the best-kept secret of the industry and how successful sales make their deals happen.
Professional boxers fight across different weight classes during their career. Winning titles at multiple weight classes, and becoming a champion across multiple divisions a multiple champion is, therefore, a major achievement.
When it comes to bringing home a deal that can make history, a salesperson must first find a sparring partner that has not only the characteristics of a champion but those of a multiple champion. This seems simple enough but how do you find champions?
Every meeting, every touchpoint you have with a prospect is an opportunity to find a diamond in the rough, but what are their traits and how can you identify them?
Here are a few tips: champions are, by definition, the ones that instantly get the respect in the room, they take the lead in the meeting, they drive the conversation, they just seem to win from the beginning. When you look at their LinkedIn profile you may find out that they have implemented programs, maybe they’ve even created and managed a centre of expertise.
They have power and influence even if they may not be the ultimate decision-maker. More importantly, they have a personal reason to make your solution a priority. Either because your solution can help them in solving a problem that has an impact on their personal life or, simply because they’ve grasped the potential of your solution to make their career evolve.
“The hero and the coward both feel the same thing. But the hero uses his fear, projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs. It’s the same thing, fear, but it’s what you do with it that matters.” – Cus D’amato
So that’s it, your champion will be driven by fear or ambition. Nevertheless, finding a Champion is not enough to bring the title home. Fine, you’ve got the material to work with, but now the sweating must begin with hours in the ring testing and developing.
Testing: an important moment when you get out of the simple life of a vendor/supplier relationship. You move forward, securing your position, ensuring yourself that you are not betting on just a coach or a see more (someone who will show a lot of interest but is just there to learn not to buy, he will always want to “see more”). A real champion, whatever his weight category will give you access to other people in the organization or to his boss, dry run key meetings, ask for business information that will differentiate you from the others.
Developing: an essential part of the bond you are creating. Train your champion to be stronger than the competition’s Champion. If he is responsible to sell for you when you are not there, you are responsible for giving that person the best arguments, (why do the project, why do it with you, why do it now) to take on the fight and more.
“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses—behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” — Muhammad Ali
Much like professional boxers do, the ideal situation is to multiply the titles and the belts. Play your prospect at different categories and multiply your champions so that you can neutralize the competition. If you started your campaign at the operational level, chances are you have found yourself a technical champion, though many other types of champions can be found: business, digital, sometimes even, a security champion.
The more the merrier, yet the Holy Grail of the million-dollar deals, the Heavy Weight is your Deal Champion, the ones that have power and influence at the most executive level, sometimes even the board and who can carry the deals from operational language to business language, top to bottom and bring it home for you.
“Once that bell rings you’re on your own. It’s just you and the other guy.” — Joe Louis
People buy from people and Champions are for life. Your Champions will use you to win as much as you will use them to bring the title home. This relationship goes beyond a company relationship and when a Champion moves, he or she will call you again, down the line, you may make a lifelong professional friend.
Invest in your groundwork. Be a human who solves problems, a trusted advisor with empathy and the deals will grow (and flow).
“The [temptation] for greatness is the biggest drug in the world.” — Mike Tyson
Caroline Franczia is a regular columnist for Maddyness and the founder of Uppercut First. Experienced in working for large companies such as Oracle, Computer Associates, and BMC, Caroline also lived in Silicon Valley for four years before moving to startups (Sprinklr, Datadog, Confluent) where she witnessed on the ground the benefits of a well-thought sales strategy. These are the foundations of UF: a structure that accompanies the European startups in their sales strategy by giving them an undeniable advantage in their go-to-market.