Here are some key areas to focus on:
1. Your customer’s buying journey
Have you mapped your typical customer buying journey? Or is all of your activity and language focused on the sales cycle and your activities?
It’s important to know what your customer’s buying journey looks like and how different roles are involved at different stages with different levels of decision input. Draw up each stage, identifying the customer stage, the corresponding sales stage and the forecast stage. This will help to identify the key points for engaging and developing a C-level engagement.
Be clear on this so your sales team has a framework and a set of questions to explore this, preferably at an early stage. This will also help to encourage ‘gatekeepers’ - who often have the power to say no but not to say yes – to support you to reach a wider audience together. These guides focus on building a robust sales framework.
2. Visual stakeholder map
Do you have a way of mapping the stakeholder landscape, each indivudual's role in the decision making landscape and their stance or attitude towards you?
Having a set of common definitions and a way of visually representating the decision stakeholders can create a very different perspective to help you navigate the customer’s political landscape and processes.
We’ve identified 5 different decision roles and 5 different stances your stakeholders may have. Having this common definition and language is important for scale, consistency and accuracy.
3. Business value
None of the above matters much if you don’t have a relevant, meaningful base on which to base your relationships.
Are you clear about the value you offer your contacts? They’re not interested in your fantastic support – that’s for ops to care about. They don’t care that your widget comes in blue.
4. Exec support
Leverage your own execs to support wider stakeholder relationship building. For instance:
- Arrange internal workshops / webinars for your execs to explain more about their roles and that of their peers in your customers. For instance, invite your CFO to explain how company finances work and what a CFO is likely to want from a supplier. Have them share what they themselves look for and value – and what turns them off – from your own suppliers. You can do similar for any other LOB lead in your business and this is a great way to build real-world understanding.
- Bring your execs to customer meetings. Introduce your CFO, CEO and other relevant execs to their peers. Your customer will appreciate it and the conversations they have will develop a different relationship dynamic. Make sure, though, that you’ve briefed your execs very carefully and given them an objective or purpose so they know what’s expected of them.
5. Practice and support
Give your salespeople opportunities to learn, discuss and practice these skills. They may need to first crawl and walk before they can run confidently at exec and senior line of business levels. Sales meetings, training, account and opportunity coaching are all simple options to talk through and role play scenarios before the real moments that matter.
You can grow and develop your team’s capability and credibility over time but in our experience these are the foundations that will help you to develop your relationships higher and wider.
Work with your sales team and sales ops to map the buying journey (not your sales process) and build out your common methods and tools to drive the behaviours you want. Without the knowledge, skills and confidence, the efforts will be half-baked at least.
Our Strengthen guide will give you some further tips. If you’d like to fast-track help to develop the right frameworks and definitions or to train and embed the skills and capabilities then please get in touch.