A prospect champion is someone who is willing to advocate for your product or service within their organization, and who can help you navigate the complex decision-making process that often occurs in enterprise sales.
Empowering prospect champions requires a multi-faceted approach that involves building trust, developing a deep understanding of the prospect’s needs and challenges, providing value and using that momentum to build your network within an account. In this article, we’ll explore a 4 part approach to ensuring you have a strong relationship with your prospect champion, and they feel empowered to help you.
🤝 Build trust
Building trust is the foundation to working collaboratively with your champion. You need to establish credibility, demonstrate your expertise, and show that you’re genuinely interested in helping them achieve their goals (whatever they are).
- Show off your knowledge: Provide your champion with content that demonstrates your knowledge and understanding of their specific challenges. In order to do this, you need to ensure you know what those goals are, we'll cover that shortly.
- Be transparent and honest with them: If you don’t have an answer to a question, don’t try to bluff your way through it.
- Share success stories: Share success stories with the prospect champion that demonstrate how your product or service has helped other companies overcome similar challenges. This will show that you have a track record of success and can be trusted to deliver results.
- Provide referrals: Provide referrals to them for other companies or individuals that have successfully used your product or service. This will demonstrate that you’re invested in their success and are willing to help them achieve their goals.
If you're confident you have your champion's trust it will give you more clarity about the internal blockers and potential risks associated with progressing the deal to the next stage of your pipeline.
🏔️ Develop a deep understanding of the champion's personal needs and challenges
Relationships drive sales and decision making. Your champion will likely have aligned goals with the organization they work for, and while that's helpful, the ideal approach is to understand who they are as an individual and what their personal needs and goals are. Your relationship with your champion will give you a deeper insight into the goals of the organization and the relationships at play, than what you can understand from an outsider's perspective.
Understanding who they are will allow you to more effectively provide value to them in a way that resonates with them. Like "Love Languages", different people react positively to different things.
For example, if you have a Type-A ambitious prospect champion who is still climbing the ladder at their business, it could be that they are trying to make a name for them self. Delivering value that resonates with that goal will build your relationship with them, and ensure that you can meet their needs in a way that directly helps them achieve their personal goal. See Providing Indirect Value below.
To empower prospect champions, you need to have a deep understanding of their needs and challenges.
In order to have a deep understanding of their needs and challenges, you need to perform research on the business and the individual, and then coordinate a discovery call or meeting with them, and potentially their team.
You can supplement the information you gather from your champion by researching their competitors and identifying areas where your product or service can provide a competitive advantage.
💰 Provide value
Providing value to a champion can be difficult, particularly if you're not in a position to offer some form of your product to them. But value comes in many forms, and if you're confident that your solution will eventually offer solutions to their challenges, that value can either come from your product, or it can be a little more creative.
Value at this point in the sales process generally fits into two categories:
A solution (in some form) to the direct needs and goals that they expect you or your product to offer.
You can provide direct value by offering a proof of concept, a pilot program or an interactive demo of your product that allows the prospect to test your product or service before making a larger commitment. This can help them see the value of your solution firsthand and can increase their confidence in your ability to deliver results.
By providing this type of collateral, you are able to use your champion's internal network to amplify the effects of your efforts. Things like leave-behind demos or decks are really effectively and give the champion a low-barrier to entry for stakeholders within the organization that have influence and decision making roles. (See #4 Multiply your champions below).
If the ticket-size of your product or service is high enough, you may be in a position to offer some subject matter expertise through people within your network, or your organization. This is an extremely effective display of capability and gives the champion an opportunity to invite other people from the sales process into the loop.
Offering to arrange an internal workshop to brainstorm the use of your product or service, or discuss the problem that your product solves, is a fantastic way to demonstrate your own capabilities, and also lifts your champion's profile internally.
Something that builds your relationship with your prospect, even if it's tangential to your direct offering.
Delivering indirect value can also come in different forms, one approach is to offer education and training that helps the prospect and their team develop the skills they need to use your product or service effectively. If you find the right outlet for this, it can also give your champion a boost to their career and set them up for success in their own role.
There are a couple of major benefits to this type of indirect value:
- It helps build long-term relationships with the prospect and can position you as a trusted advisor who is committed to their success.
- It can be serious dividends in the long-term. Your prospect champion might stay at the current business and "climb-the-ladder" giving you a more influential champion, or they might leave their business and potentially bring you another opportunity!
Another approach to delivering indirect value is to build your champion's network. You see this very often in some industries, hosting dinner, drinks or some other kind of social event (conferences for instance). The benefit to this type of value delivery is that it has the potential to grow your network as well and in some industries, the opportunity to collaborate and get to know their peers from other organizations is really beneficial to them.
👥 Multiply your champions
In enterprise sales, it’s rare for a single person to make the decision to purchase a product or service, there are often multiple stakeholders involved in the decision-making process, each with their own priorities and concerns.
You will often read about a matrix of "Influence" vs. "Impact". We're talking about their influence within the organization as a whole vs. their impact on the deal or project you're trying to get across the line.
This essentially puts stakeholders into 1 of 4 categories:
- High Influence / High Impact: Manage these people closely, as they will have the strongest effect on the outcome of your sales process. Note: Hopefully your champion fits into this category. If not, you may want to cultivate a champion who does.
- High Influence / Low Impact: Keep these people satisfied. Example: Executives that act as gate-keepers to the budget.
- Low Influence / High Impact: Keep these people informed, while they have low influence you will want to make sure they are still happy. Example: Technical users of your product within the account.
- Low Influence / Low Impact: Monitor these people, assess whether they may change their position if the deal/project goes in a different direction. Example: People who are tangential to the deal. In some cases this could be a legal team that is unlikely get involved unless there are particular concerns about your contract.
Develop relationships with key decision-makers, influencers, and end-users using your champion's network and by delivering direct & indirect value to them. You can then assess how the people you meet fit into the matrix I've described above, and decide for each person how you need to handle their role within the account.
For those who are High Influence or High Impact, giving your champion something like an interactive demo is the perfect type of collateral. It's a low barrier way for your champion to say "Check this out, I think this will deliver value to our business." and it's more likely to engage than a slide deck or video.
By having multiple champions in an organization you amplify the value delivered to each of them, and you may identify conflicts that could potentially put a pause on your deal or project.
Empowering prospect champions is a win/win
If you're working with someone within a target account, consider how you can turn them into a champion. Build trust, understand their goals (both personal and organizationally), deliver value to them and use that momentum to build more relationships.
This will give you more confidence in how you position your product, and more confidence in your assessment of the opportunity. 💪