One of the challenges in the new way of selling is finding and motivating a stakeholder to become a Change Champion for you. Someone who will act on your behalf when you are not there. A person who involves and influences other stakeholders based on your shared insights.
Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe
This task is not easy and requires patience, focus and strategic thinking. The Stakeholder you choose as a Change Champion is crucial to your strategy for moving the opportunity forward. When you leave the building or hang up the phone, you still need a person or persons at the customer’s organization who favours you, who could be seen as your ally, and who mobilizes the Buying room to review options and make decisions. It would help if you had eyes and ears on the ground to help you move the Buying clock.
What are the options? What type of people are you looking for? Is the Change Champion always your primary contact, or can it be someone else? A way of looking at this is by using the acronym FACE.
- F is for Favours – someone who likes you and wouldn’t mind doing you a favour. It can be the receptionist or a stakeholder in the Buying Room but with less authority. It can be someone who organizes a tour of the factory. They can quickly introduce you to another stakeholder. Is this person totally on your side? Would this person cheer for you? Probably not. Or maybe yes. You don’t know. They are kind to you but also neutral. They don’t take sides. But they are essential; after all, they can do you a favour.
- A is for Ally. This person is on your side. The change that you suggest is making their life easier and better. They like what you say and will talk good about you. Your insights sang the right song. Allies are behind your suggestion of challenging the status quo. Often they see the immediate tactical advantages. Although allies agree with what you say and propose, they will not stick out their neck for you and actively influence others. Although you would love to, they do not take many actions.
- C is for Change Champion. This is the person you are looking for—someone who is more than an Ally. Change Champions take the initiative. They are not scared to go outside their comfort zone. They believe you have the right intention for their business and want to make it work. They understand that operationally many suppliers can do the job for them, but they believe your suggestions will make a strategic difference for their company. And they actively influence others while you are not there.
- E is for End Responsible. This is the Stakeholder higher up the food chain who, after a consensus amongst the Buying room is achieved, is instructing the signing of the contract and making the budget available. Sometimes you don’t even meet with this Stakeholder. And that is ok as long as the Change Champion and Allies are doing their work to influence the End Responsible stakeholder. This person may initially be neutral or opposed to change. They can be an Hidden Competitor. But, often, they are the ones who request you to deliver a solid business case.
The Most Important?
Who is the most important? Well, we shouldn’t make the same mistake as in the past when we were hunting for THE decision maker. Decisions are not made by one person anymore. Everyone in the Buying room is important.:
- You need people who will do you a favor because they like you
- When it comes to making a decision in the Buying room you need as many allies as you can find. After all, it may be a very democratic vote.
- Without a Change Champion you have no chance. So, it makes sense to find the right one.
- And in the end, someone is protecting budgets and needs to ink the deal.
So, it is not one person you are looking for. It would be best if you had them all. You need a FACE at the customer’s organization.
Ps: Who said stakeholder management is easy?