modern selling

The Greatest Tool for Getting Deals ‘Unstuck’

Sharpening Your Deal Champion Strategy

Customer cost-cutting and market uncertainty continue. For sales teams, this means slower deal velocity and even more 'no decision' losses. The answer? Doubling down with your Champion to move deals forward. 

Champion activation involves the who, the what, and the how.

Identifying 'who' can be an effective advocate for your solution is the first step. Be skeptical and fight the bias to see someone friendly as a true Champion. You can validate that you have a solid Champion with our Champion Candidate Assessment here.

Too many sellers stop here. Even with a strong Champion, most Champion-driven sales strategies fall short. 

Effective Champion activation also focuses on 'the what'. The best sellers obsess over surfacing potential deal momentum killers early. Our Champion Activation Model defines the four elements of 'the what':

  1. People: The full stakeholder landscape and related people dynamics 
  2. Position: The 'angle of attack' for our competitive strategy and differentiated message
  3. Process: The details of the decision and implementation process
  4. Partnership: The tactical actions for increasing Champion confidence and sense of personal ownership in the outcome

Seeing your Champion strategy through the lens of these 4 P’s is critical to moving decisions through today's messy buyer journey.

But the best sellers go further with details around 'the how'. This means co-creating a set of mutual commitments between you and your Champion. In the early stages of the opportunity, these actions are mainly about filling information gaps. That also includes validating and aligning the perspectives from multiple influencers.

Later, 'the how' actions center on communicating and reinforcing your competitive message: why should the buyer select you and your solution vs. a competitive alternative (or doing nothing)?

Champion activation involves thinking through 'the who', 'the what', and 'the how'. And don't see it as a static, one-time exercise. In most deals, it's really a continuously evolving set of activities.

We know it can be a lot to work through and keep track of. To help guide the process, we've created a free workbook for you and your teams. Click the image below to download this resource.

Champion Activation Guide

Driving Deal Success Today

Many sales teams are hitting hurdles they've not seen in a decade. But the most effective are leveraging Champions as true partners in the deal strategy and close plan. Use our Champion Activation Model to get the most out of your Champion relationships.

additional insights

Q: How do seller’s overcome the common bias of viewing someone friendly as a true Champion, and what specific criteria should I use to validate the strength of a potential Champion?

A: Testing the effectiveness of Champion requires going well beyond relying on personal rapport.

It’s essential to assess a potential Champion based on their ability and willingness to take action for your solution within their organization.

Common indicators include:

  • Ability to rally other stakeholders to meetings
  • Gaining access to higher levels in the organization
  • Providing the necessary data or insights to inform the solution
  • Ability to prioritize aspects of the problem or solution
  • Transparency in sharing internal challenges and blockers
  • Offering a perspective on internal relationships and power dynamics

Testing and validating a solid Champion involves analyzing their credibility, network, and commitment to take action to achieve shared goals.

Q: What are some best practices for maintaining and evolving the Champion strategy throughout the different stages of a deal?

A: Maintaining and evolving the Champion strategy throughout the different stages of a deal requires adaptability and proactive engagement.

Sellers should continually reassess and refine their approach based on evolving dynamics and feedback from the Champion and other stakeholders.

Practical tips for this include:

  • Regular communication with the Champion to address any emerging challenges or opportunities – you should be able to text your champion
  • Develop opportunities to include the Champion and other stakeholders in co-creation opportunities that assess the problem and/or develop the solution
  • Adapting the messaging and tactics based on changing circumstances; including developing specific content for your Champion
  • Proactively identifying and addressing potential roadblocks in the decision-making process

Additionally, ongoing coaching and support from sales leadership can help ensure that your Champion strategy remains effective and aligned with the evolving needs of the buyer journey.

Q: How does the Champion Activation Model address the specific challenges posed by slower deal velocity and increasing 'no decision' losses in today's market characterized by customer cost-cutting and market uncertainty?

A: The Champion Activation Model provides a strategic framework to test and activate your champion. The model emphasizes the identification of a strong Champion, a thorough understanding of the stakeholder landscape, competitive positioning, decision and implementation processes, and fostering a strategic partnership.

The model is designed to identify risk points and suggest strategies to overcome the hurdles presented by the uncertainties and cost-cutting measures prevalent in today's business environment.

Using the model early in the sales cycle will help sellers qualify opportunities to ensure their time is spent on the deals most likely to close.

The framework empowers sellers to adapt and excel in complex scenarios, ensuring a more effective and resilient approach to deal success.

We're working with many clients to introduce and elevate Champion selling skills, strategies, and coaching. Contact us to discuss ways we can help your team master this essential capability of modern selling. 

About The Author

Author photo Researcher, consultant, and sales leader, Brian uses a data-driven approach to drive sales effectiveness. His clients include leading sales organizations in financial services, technology, healthcare, and professional services. Using insight from academics and change management, Brian helps senior leaders and sales enablement teams understand and succeed in today’s more demanding market. His research has been published in Harvard Business Review and other outlets.

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