Community Wisdom

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Coaches vs. Champions


Community Wisdom - Top Shares

David - “I’ve written a bunch of LI posts on this topic.
1. Access to power, they need to be in the room when the decision is made to influence it and have the trusted ear of the EB, often their direct report.
2. Selling for you when you aren’t there. They are willing to stick their neck out for you.
3. They are tested, and continue to be tested so their status stays consistent.
A coach doesn’t have access to power, often aren’t in the room. They provide inside info and can influence, but they carry less weight and often don’t have the trusted ear of the EB to drive a favorable decision.”
Chris “Coaches give info and guidance. Champions sells for you when you’re not in the room and has influence / people listen. Champions can box above their weight in title to drive change.
Champions will put their name behind something as opposed to coaches who don’t want to risk their reputation as much”
John - “Coaches will provide you info on what's going on internally and advocate for you, but when push comes to shove, they will back down.Champions will stick their neck out to advocate for buying your solution.
One thing I do to find champions in prospecting is boolean searches in Sales Navigator. This often narrows it down to individuals with a lot of "stuff" listed in their profile. This often indicates someone is very driven, which is a characteristic of a champion. There are results based key words I'll add to the search, which also leads to champions.”
Ruthie - Champion = Mentor. Helpful to rank them using two scales (each has zero-5 ranking)
1) Level of Commitment
The DI is someone who passionately believes what you offer is the right solution for their needs. The higher the commitment, the higher, the score.
Here’s some criteria when scoring their level of commitment:
What would a solution need to include an address for this DI to support it? How does the discussed solution compare with what the DI currently has or is considering? What are the meaningful differences between my solution and the alternative? Why do those differences matter specifically to this DI? Are those differences significant enough for the DI to take action? When does the DI want this solution implemented? Why is the state significant to the DI and to the org? What are the consequences of that date not being met? What could their current provider do that would result in the DI deciding not to support a change? If the competition offered a price 15% lower than mine, would this DI still be firmly entrenched in support of my solution?
*Not considering the impact of price is a common mistake when evaluating DI commitment.
2) Level of Influence Some criteria to consider when scoring level of influence:
What needs to happen for the DI‘s recommendation (my solution) to be selected ? When this DI makes recommendations to the org, what normally happens? Who else should be involved in the selection process going forward? What thoughts and perspectives will they have about the DI’s recommendations? Why would they not support the selection of the solution? If they don’t support the DIs recommendation, what happens to the deal? Does this DI have enough clout in the organization to effect change?
Since scrutiny of influence / level of influence is a tricky evaluation, you need a strategy to advance the deal, and consider the question of what might prevent it from happening to expose deal risks for action to be taken.
With level of commitment deal vulnerabilities, the strategy to resolve scores of less than five is to effectively differentiate both what you sell and how you sell to demonstrate meaningful value.
With level of influence deal vulnerabilities, the requisite strategy is to find a more influential DI, because the deal could collapse without having that person in your camp.
I always pursue the DI‘s whose interests are most align with the benefits of what I sell.
The big question my champion needs to be able to answer is why is the solution your recommendation? Based on what they share that response to that question is, remind them of the other reasons or differentiators that could resonate with the other DI’s. What I like to do is send an email with talking points to arm the champion with the information they will need to execute this key sales function. Prep, rehearse with them, make adjustments as needed. We think ideally we can present, which is often ideal. BUT: They have more credibility than we do since they don’t have anything to gain by leading the other DIs astray. So since you are asking a non-sales person to sell for you, this means the burden of preparing them for success is entirely on us.
In summary: A well-coached mentor, who is firmly committed to my solution, and is heavily influential in decision-making is essential to win deals at the right cost.
Cate - “I have always said... text them. If you get insider information or communicate in ways that moves the deal forward on your behalf -- and that is done via text -- thats a champion.”
Helen “I try to understand what is in it for my main contact, how many times they've bought the product we are selling (usually never), and how familiar they are with their company's procurement process. Then I match my role to theirs in an authentic way. Sometimes I even become the champion for my champion. Sometimes I realize the "champion" is a paper pusher and I have to work with them to identify who the real movers are. Rapport is key. But I know we are there when we can have candid conversations about tough things, when we become coaches to each other, and when they intentionally give me the inside scoop so I can shine for their decision makers.”
David “This is one of those parts of sales that trips so many people up. They mislabel champions and it causes confusion and false senses of security. A champion is someone with access to power who will be in the room when the decision is made and willing to stick their neck out to influence the deal and the economic buyer, in order to do that, they need to often be one level down from them. With that context:
Review the org chart to identify them, look for people 1 step below their CxO you need to get as your executive sponsor
Empowering them takes time, but get them highly involved, things like ensuring they are invited to all key demos, setup 1:1 time with them regularly to review the project status and ask for help prepping, review the business case with them and collaborate with them to co-create it, ask them for introductions to multiple levels of the business to learn more and ensure you are solving all the right problems, then bring insight back to them they can use to "look good" while working with their peers and executives”
John - “I look to test them on their willingness to stick their neck out. I don't have a firm template because it's situational, but I'm working with a company and got my champion to share his internal business justification document with me so that we can provide input. Very good sign that they are a champion. Since then he has introduced me to his boss and started entering our information into their vendor portal (prior to getting the tech win).Another thing to uncover is how they have purchased products or services like yours in the past. I gauge their answer on their willingness and ability to fight for a solution.”
Omarr - 1) understand their personal and organizational goals
2) who do they report to/collab with? Have I multithreaded into them early or not?
3) how do they buy?
4) collaborate WITH them on a mutual success plan, if they don’t agree or actively work with me, thats a red flag, I must stop and assess (closed-lost a deal yesterday Ive worked for 3 months, 2 demos and 1 deep dive --> my champion and his boss did not commit to a major milestone deadline, I made a concession, they didn’t meet me in the middle, I qualified them again but more aggressively, turned out they weren't serious to commit to the previously agreed commit date)

Must have an OTE of $200k+

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