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  • Writer's pictureNadav Efraty

Chapter 8 - Arming The Champion

Most of the discussions between the stakeholders as well as the actual buying committee decision happen without the presence of the seller. This puts the burden of selling on the champion, which doesn’t work for the seller and which typically doesn’t have relevant sales experience. Furthermore, champions want offerings for their tactical reasons, so pitching the strategic and business impact and business case are typically out of his wheelhouse. Finally, even as experienced sellers it takes time and effort to come up with a great sales deck and business case for an opportunity – can anyone expect the champion to be able to pull something like that alone? (unless you are selling to value engineers… 😊)

Every buyer has an individual situation, needs and reasons to buy. Buyers want to buy from those who understand them and their challenges and that are best positioned to get them the impact they seek. It is thus the job of the seller to understand the domain and the buyer’s pains, and make the buyer see how the seller’s differentiated offering addresses those needs in the most impactful way. That means that the sales decks should not be generic menus of features and capabilities that the buyer have to choose from – it should all be tailored around the buyer's environment, needs and perceived impact.

Value sellers typically create and customize multiple sales decks and business during the sales process:

  1. The first meeting deck – The purpose of the first meeting deck is to be the background for the Level 1 Discovery (see more in “From the tactical to the strategic” chapter), used by the seller to demonstrate domain expertise and drive the understanding and uncovering of the status quo, the use cases, the needs, the compelling event etc. Given that the seller has some knowledge about the buyer even before the first meetings (for example, the segment, the size of the company, the geography, the persona and more), this deck could already be customized and optimized to show the buyer how well positioned the seller is to address its needs.

  2. The champion deck – During the first meeting/s the seller learns a lot about the tactical pains and needs of the champions. Based on that the seller should generate a tailored deck that focuses on those specific use cases and pains, bringing in relevant case studies, slides that are targeted at the various identified stakeholders’ personas and more. In addition, this deck should include a generic version of a business case, the generic timeline and decision criteria and other assets that the seller intends to build with and for the champion. The purpose of this deck is double A) Give the champion the best possible asset to work with internally to socialize and build the coalition with the various stakeholders and B) Engage the champion in the level 2 discovery by presenting the generic business case and working with the champion to validate and update the various metrics and assumptions in order to build the actual defensible business case for the buyer.

  3. The Economic Buyer deck – During the discovery process with the champion, the seller will learn more about the tactical needs, but also about the strategic drivers and alignment, the stakeholders, the competition, the opportunity specific business case, the decision process and criteria and more. All of that learning should accumulate into the economic buyer deck – the pinnacle of this process and the deck which should lead to the final decision of the economic buyer to approve and underwrite the buying decision. This deck should be validated by the champion and as many stakeholders as possible. The intended use is not selling - it is validating with the Economic Buyer of everything that seller and the buying team have learned during the process and the conclusion that the buying decision should be executed. 

  4. The POV deck – in sales processes where POV is an integral part of the process, the POV deck should include the POV objectives, key parameters. timeline, success criteria etc.

  5. The final proposal – The final proposal could include the updated Economic Buyer and POV decks, which describe the path from the tactical pains to the strategic initiatives to the business and financial impact. 

The challenge – building and customizing each deck to optimize it for every opportunity takes hours, and preparing the business case takes even more. As a result, many sellers just do not do it for most of their opportunities and even when they do, it is typically more generic than customized, thereby missing a big opportunity to properly arm the champions and improve their position.  In addition, there are typically many case studies and battlecards and specific slides for specific situations etc., which makes it hard for the sellers to keep track and as a result, they tend to just use something and stick to it whether it is optimal or typically not. 

"Every buyer has an individual situation, needs, and reasons to buy, making it crucial for sellers to understand and align their offerings with the buyer's specific challenges and desired impact."

Value engineers could assist a lot, but as most organizations that have a value engineering practice learn, the value engineers are drawn to assist in the most critical opportunities, so the vast majority of opportunities do not get the same treatment. It would clearly be beneficial to have a value engineer join the sellers from the early stages of every opportunity and help them ask the right question and build the strongest possible assets along the sales process, but there are never enough value engineers to even get close to that. 

The other aspect of arming the champion is preparing, enabling and guiding the champion to navigate and drive the buying process and to win it for the seller. For that, it is recommended to treat the champion as a partner, explain the importance of the various steps, present the desired assets and outcomes (such as business case, deal timeline, decision criteria etc.) and then work together create them, and to drive the various activities that are required in order to approve and execute the buying decision.

arming cahmpion

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