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Consensus is key

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Lately, I have been seeing more and more salespeople lose opportunities because they don’t have the support of the necessary stakeholders. Here are four ideas to get everyone on board so you can make the sale.

Authority. In some cases prospects don’t have the authority. Even though they may be someone with a relatively impressive title, who also happens to be the CEO of the problem, they don’t have the support of the real decision-maker (the person who needs convincing).

These salespeople struggle to coach their contacts on how to sell the real decision-makers. The way to reach these decision-makers is to ask the question “Who else are we going to need to convince in order to get this initiative approved?” Some salespeople hesitate to ask this question for fear it will alienate their contacts. But not asking is far more dangerous. It can cost you an opportunity.

The real deciders. At the opposite end of the spectrum, I have seen some salespeople who have gained the support of the stakeholders with authority but not the support of the stakeholders who would be affected by their solutions. Gone are the days in which having the person with authority was enough. Now that person wants to ensure they have the support of their teams, the people whom they are going to charge with executing the solution.

Here are two ideas to prevent an opportunity from landing in your losses column:

Acquire all stakeholders as early as possible. The sooner you get all the stakeholders affected by a decision to the table, the better chance you have of acquiring their support. The longer it takes you to bring them to the table, the less likely you will gain their support. Don’t let high-level stakeholders ignore stakeholders lower on the organizational chart.

Ask the tough questions. You need to know who is going to be making the decision regarding your solution. You need to know whose signature is necessary to bind your prospect to a deal. And you need to know who might be opposed to you and your solution and why. These questions may feel confrontational, but in truth they are collaborative. Without this information, you can’t easily help your client.

Don’t miss out on an opportunity because you’ve neglected to rally all the stakeholders to your solution.

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S. Anthony Iannarino is the managing director of B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, a boutique sales coaching and consulting company, and an adjunct faculty member at Capital University’s School of Management and Leadership. For more information, go


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