When Stakeholders Are Not Aligned

Recently, I spoke to a front line Sales person asking about her experience so far with the new way of selling. She felt she was perceived as more credible and insightful in meetings. In addition, stakeholders gave her feedback that they appreciated her knowledge and ideas. That is excellent feedback! But she also raised a challenge that, according to her, many of thesalesadvice.com readers also experience:

What if, after multiple meetings with individual or more stakeholders, the primary contact of your opportunity is still giving your the cold shoulder. Often you hear: ” Thank you for your input and effort, but after further consideration, we will not continue exploring a change further with you. Let’s stay in touch, but for now, it is a No”. How frustrating! Where did you go wrong? And what can you do better next time?

Gartner has identified this particular challenge and explained why this happens and what you can do about that.

The challenge

  1. You are now dealing with a diverse group of individuals, and this is where things get complicated.
  2. If you deliver tailored messages to different stakeholders (e.g. marketing, logistics, finance, production etc.), they may like your value-add because of what it means for them.
  3. When they, however, come together as a buying group, you may just have driven a wedge among them and ultimately hinders gaining consensus on change. They now start to disagree not only on the solution but also on the problem itself.


It is all about driving consensus, and you are at the steering wheel. Review the 1-2-3 challenges described above again and take your actions to remove barriers and open the path to change.

  1. More stakeholders – but smaller meetings
    • Get more stakeholders involved because one of them might be a Hidden Competitor. However, avoid meeting with them as a big group. Instead, organise smaller meetings, even one-on-one.
  2. Show empathy for the WIFM.
    • Understand their individual goals and priorities, and show empathy that these are all very important. Avoid “selling your solution”; instead, be insightful and share ideas on how you can help the company grow at better margins.
  3. Focus on the overlap
    • Figure out what they have in common and agree on as a company priority
  4. Grow the overlap
    • Make them feel more connected. Through your help, their priority shifts from ME to WE
  5. Drive the need for consensus
    • Will their current situation or/and set-up deliver the results they are looking for as a company?

Now you are in a much better position to make them feel connected. They will act as a group agreeing that their status quo is not good enough. With your help, they can define better what solution criteria are needed to get closer to their company goals. As a group, they will find that your solution meets these criteria the most because you have been with them from the beginning when they were not aligned.

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