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  • Writer's pictureNadav Efraty

Chapter 3 - The Stakeholders

There are typically multiple individuals or groups that are involved in every corporate buying decision. The list may include people from the purchasing business unit, IT, Cybersecurity, Information and Data, Operations, Finance, Procurement, Legal and more. 

Some of those people will play specific roles in the buying process – champion, the Economic / executive buyer, coaches, supporters, blockers etc.

The champion has personal motivation to get this done. Most other stakeholders do not have the same emotional / tactical connection as the champion – each of them has their own beliefs and priorities, which could be aligned, conflicting or unrelated to the pain of the champion.

The seller’s role, along with the champion, is to identify those personas, functions and power structures, understand their motivations, priorities and objections, and find the ways to bring them to support (or at least not block) the buying decision. The more supporters that could be found the better – the seller should explicitly try to turn such supporters into additional coaches. In some cases, sales organizations require that there would be at least one coach in addition to the champion. 

The first group of stakeholders, and the most critical one, is the one which will make the decision for the buying business unit – the buying committee. These are the people that need to approve the budget and resources allocations based on the champion’s tactical pains along with the strategic alignment and the business impact analysis. Specifically identifying the buying committee stakeholders and addressing their strategic priorities in the discovery and the decks are an important part of arming the champion. In addition to getting them to prioritize the purchasing of a solution, it is also critical to make them realize that certain capabilities are required if they want to succeed, and the seller must lock in certain differentiated capabilities, so the buying decision will not end up at the hands of the competition.  

The second group of stakeholders has functional roles that relate to the procurement process (including procurement, legal etc.). The ability of the second group to override the decision of the first group depends on the strength of the decision of the first group. With a weak recommendation or without locked-in decision criteria that differentiates the seller, the second group will be able to block or renegotiate aggressively, while a strong conclusive decision from the first group will eliminate most of the risk with the second group. 

Employees in big corporations tend to change roles every few years (whether they are leaving or moving internally). Having stakeholders leave during the sales cycle is common and the risk is that losing a critical stakeholder is likely to kill the opportunity. Even if others still support it, the new stakeholders will often take time to develop a new plan and re-evaluate previous priorities. While sellers should always try to have the leaving supporter hook them up with the right internal leaders to continue to push the deal forward, this serves as a reminder that time is a critical factor – the longer it takes the more likely it become to have negative surprises, so seller should maintain high urgency and sales organization should constantly thrive do shorten their sales cycle.


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