Internal champions – why one may not be enough

Internal Champions

Internal Champions

In major accounts a lot of the selling is going on when you are not there.  So developing internal champions is a key to sales success.

When talking with sales reps about internal champions, it’s clear that in many cases once they’ve developed an internal champion, they mentally “check off the box” and move on to other things.

But is one enough?  Like most questions of this sort the answer is – yes, sometimes one is enough.  On the other hand, sometimes the answer is no – you need more than one.  The consequences of misguiding the number of internal champions you need can be significant.

So, why might it be worth investing your time to develop more than one internal champion?

1. Complex buying process. In major accounts the buying process is complex.  There are a lot of players involved, the buying process is long, consensus is often lacking and there are a lot of tricky situations to be handled.  So, at different points in the buying cycle you may need different internal champions to tell your story – based on expertise, access, internal credibility or personal relationships.

2. Unpredictability.  Raise your hand if you have ever been in a major sale and one day you woke up and found out that your internal champion was gone – left – took a job with another company.

A caveat … While as we just argued the single internal champion strategy can occasionally be flawed, it is also true that simply “collecting” internal champions is not an answer.  Internal champions must be both “willing” and “able” to provide you help in securing the business.  There are not many people inside of an account that fit the bill.  So, it’s likely that if you have 12 potential candidates, you probably have 2 internal champions and 10 institutional friends.

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©2015 Sales Momentum®, LLC

About Janet Spirer

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. Janet has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School Professor she taught marketing, sales, and business strategy courses. She also managed a consulting practice focusing on sales productivity and marketing – working with a variety of clients ranging from Xerox to IBM. She translated those experiences into a book – “Parlez-Vous Business” – that helps sales people develop the business savvy to sell successfully. Since co-founding Sales Momentum® in 2000 with Richard Dr. Spirer received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.P.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Economics from Brooklyn College. She holds the appointment of Professor Emeritus at Marymount University.
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1 Response to Internal champions – why one may not be enough

  1. Jordan says:

    Very interesting discussion here. The term “champion” always seems to imply there’s just the one at times, but many places could benefit from multiple. Thanks for sharing your insight on this!

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