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Consulting Lessons In Sales – Empowering the Champion

There are many subtle lessons I didn’t recognize from consulting that have been hugely valuable since building startups, especially in the role of sales. One of those lessons is (two-part) the role of the champion and empowering the champion to overcome internal hurdles.

I remember a project I was working on many, many years ago. We had just done a tremendous amount of work after developing models and recommendations on the client’s technology stack. We also helped the company choose a large transportation management system (TMS). We delivered our recommendations and findings to the company’s C-suite. We completed our 3-hour discussion, and yet, were only able to get through half our recommendations. As a consultant only a few months in, I thought things went well other than missing half the slides. Our internal debrief, however, highlighted how our team had missed the mark. Our recommendations focused too much on the TMS and did not deliver on IT infrastructure improvements we needed to hit home on for our champion, the Director of IT. The President and CFO moved forward with the TMS, but the rest of the scope where the Director wanted to achieve didn’t make the radar. As such, he never got budget to move forward with key initiatives.

In today’s B2B sales world, there are 7-8 folks involved in the buying process (Gartner). The role of the champion is as important as ever, and empowering the champion is critical. Empowering can come in the form of delivering a set of recommendations to the C-level suite, and to providing the champion with information and a ROI to gain buy-in internally.

In a complex sale, most of the selling does not involve a vendor’s sales professional. Instead, the real selling is done internally. It’s important to remember the role of the champion. Then, ensure the champion has as much ammunition as possible to power through his/ her agenda – hopefully, includes you. 

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