In an earlier post, we talked about the importance of developing internal champions in major accounts. We argued that in major accounts, a lot of selling goes on when you’re not there, which is why top performers are good at developing internal champions. Internal champions are crucial to winning key business because sales reps need someone to “tell their story” when they are not there – and they are not there most of the time.
We then shared five ideas for developing an internal champion – one of which we want to explore further: There can be more than one internal champion in an account –technical gurus, users, etc.
The Sales Executive Council (SEC) recently reported that developing internal champions was important and identified six characteristics of an internal champion:
- Is accessible
- Speaks the truth and can provide valuable information typically unavailable to suppliers
- Is pre-disposed to support the supplier’s solution
- Is credible and effective at presenting to and influencing others
- Has some personal skin in the game (advocates much more likely to help if they stand to profit themselves); and,
- Can network reps with other customer stakeholders and actually delivers on commitments.
Unfortunately, these traits rarely co-exist in a single individual. So, being unable to find the ideal champion sales reps often seek people that have some of these attributes. And the traits these people tend to have often are limited to being more accessible and easier to engage – which means these internal champions may not have all that it takes to help advance the sale.
So what does this mean for sales reps and their sales managers? Yes, sales reps must engage multiple internal champions. They also need to apply more stringent criteria when considering who they engage as internal champions. Accessibility and eagerness are necessary traits – but not sufficient for an internal champion to build consensuses within the buying organization and sell when the sales rep isn’t there. Developing true internal champions takes substantial time and effort; hence careful selection cannot be over-emphasized.
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