SALES MANAGEMENT

How to Find Influencers in Major Accounts
Adriana Puckett

You have courted everyone at "Major XYZ Company," from decision makers to the janitorial staff, in your quest to land this major account. People seem to like your ideas and presentations, but you haven't been able to get the actual sale. You have logged a significant amount of time trying to turn this friendly relationship into a serious long-term commitment. Why isn't your effort paying off?

What you are lacking is an account champion, says Dick Canada, author of The 24 Sales Traps and How to Avoid Them: Recognizing the Pitfalls That Mislead Even the Best Performers. Instead of spreading your relationship-building effort thin, you should find and cultivate an account champion who will pick up where you leave off.

"In other words, when the salesperson isn't at the account and closed-door meetings take place, the salesperson's internal champion can go to bat to support the sale. In some cases, the internal champion will even sell the outside salesperson's ideas, opinions, and solutions to the key people in his or her own organization," says Canada.

But how do you go about finding the perfect champion for your quest? Canada offers five steps.

1. Go through your list of contacts. To the best of your knowledge, compile a list all key decision-influencers and decision makers.

2. Find your internal champion. Canada lists several questions to consider when finding the perfect internal champion. Two examples: Who has the power but maybe not the position? Whose ideas would be more likely to align with your own philosophy of business?

3. Ask for a referral. If you haven't been introduced to your candidate, ask someone within the account to introduce you.

4. Secure a meeting. Try to secure an initial meeting with the potential internal champion to assess how you might work with her or him. Also, you may get some valuable strategy advice.

5. Offer a helping hand. Ask your champion to help you so that you can be the most effective, not only for yourself and your company, but also for the account, says Canada.

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