Some decision-makers will take sides and help shape the outcome. Some will want you to win, while others will favor your competitor. And you need to know which way people are leaning so you can direct them in your favor.
Try to find where their allegiance lies and decide what you can do to bring the key decision influencers to your side.
Most decision-makers will fall into one of the following five categories:
- Mentors. They believe in you, your brand, your company, your reputation and your product. They want you to win and they’ll share information and open doors for you. Their reasons for mentoring you are usually transparent to everyone in their company. They simply believe your solution is the better choice.
- Supporters. They may prefer your solution to other options, but they have less of a vested interest in pushing an outcome than the mentors do. The advantage of having supporters prefer your solution is that many voices can influence what the collective does. The disadvantage is that they lead you to believe you have more people in your corner whom you can count on when the chips are down. But if the tide of popular opinion should shift, supporters may swing their vote.
- Resistors. They aren’t so much against you and your solution as much as they are against any change being made to the status quo. Resistors identify with the old ways and have no role models for the new activity. The best way to handle resistors is to help them understand the new rewards that come with a new work process.
- Neutrals. They haven’t made up their minds if they support you or not, or they don’t really care what solution is selected. They may be content to follow the decisions made by others or they may feel that all suppliers are the same. If there’s a risk, they won’t remain neutral. You have to weigh how helpful they will be as supporters or how damaging they could be working against you.
- Enemies. They are against you and your solutions. Beyond the resistors who don’t want to see anyone’s new solution put in place, the enemies have decided you should lose the deal. Sometimes they act as your competitors’ mentors and work behind the scenes to give them an advantage. Once you identify them, you have to make a conscious effort to treat them with care.
Source: “Target Opportunity Selling,” by Nicholas Read, the founder and managing partner of the revenue growth consulting firm SalesLabs.