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Monday 7 August - Significant buying decisions in business are rarely made by one person

Different stakeholders can have fundamentally different needs and priorities

Hello Subscriber,

I hope you’ve had a really good weekend!

Last week we looked at how to develop more compelling proposals. This week, we’ll take this a lot further by looking at the range of people who might be interested in what you are selling.

As you know, we call these people “stakeholders”. They have a stake, in other words, an interest in what we’re selling. This definition of “stakeholders” is completely different from the definition of “shareholders”, who own all or part of a business.

Stakeholders might have an interest because what you’re selling will improve things for them. This is likely to mean that they will approach your proposals positively. Some stakeholders might have a negative view of your proposals because, from their perspective, the changes you’re proposing seem unwelcome.

It’s very common for people in selling roles to get caught up with the priorities of the primary person they’re working with. Often, this is the person with whom we started the selling conversation. In a situation like this, there are lots of risks that other stakeholders’ needs and priorities are not identified or included in your proposals.

This week, you’ll learn more about how to extend your engagement successfully to a broader range of stakeholders. You can then include the needs and priorities of these additional stakeholders in your compelling proposals.

Examples of Stakeholders

Let me give you some examples of the range of stakeholders that I’ve worked with over the years to improve sales team performance. Here are their stakeholder roles and some of their typical priorities:

  • Sales Team Leader:

    • How to improve sales team performance?

    • How to recruit and retain the best team members?

  • Sales Team Member:

    • How to find more opportunities?

    • How to earn more?

  • Head of Finance:

    • How to get the sales team to forecast results more accurately?

    • How can the sales team negotiate more effectively to improve gross profit?

  • HR Manager:

    • How to prove that training investments lead to better results?

    • How to add the record of training to personnel records?

  • Business Owner or CEO:

    • How to grow the business more quickly and reliably?

    • How to integrate the sales team more effectively into marketing plans and priorities?

  • Senior Operations Manager

    • How to stop salespeople from selling non-standard solutions?

    • How to smooth out order intake to prevent delivery resources from being overloaded?

Ideally, when starting to work with a new client, I would take the time to meet and speak with all these people. And all of the other stakeholders that I haven’t listed, like the IT Manager, the Quality Manager, the Marketing Manager, etc.

It’s clearly impossible to identify and meet ALL stakeholders. And so, we need to make the decision to identify and engage with the most significant stakeholders. We call them Key Stakeholders. The number of key stakeholders with whom to engage depends on the complexity of what we’re selling.

Who Are Your Key Stakeholders?

In your typical selling situations:

  • Who are your key stakeholders?

  • What are their likely priorities?

  • If you choose to meet with them, (and if you’re successful in getting the time to speak with them!), what questions might they have about what you’re selling?

  • What open questions could you ask them?

Here’s one area of practice to emphasise today

Create your own checklist of your typical stakeholders and their priorities when selling your products and services.

Coaching Focus

Meet with your sales team leader for a short coaching session to review the following:

  1. Look together at your new list of stakeholders and their priorities.

  2. Typically, what are the most significant stakeholder roles that will be worth your effort to find and seek to engage in conversation?

  3. Who are the stakeholders you’ve had no contact with in your most significant current opportunities?

Reminder: One area of practice to emphasise today

Create your own checklist of your typical stakeholders and their priorities when selling your products and services.

If you have questions or comments, it would be great to hear from you. Just hit reply and send me an email.

Have a great day!

Founder & Leader

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