Critical to B2B Sales Success – Stakeholder Assessments

By Bob Apollo

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One of the most common reasons why apparently promising B2B sales opportunities get derailed – often at a late stage in our sales cycle – is that we have failed to identify all the key stakeholders or to understand how to get them all to support our approach.

There’s a similar explanation for why many accounts fail to realise their potential – we end up becoming over-reliant on a few regular contacts and fail to identify or engage with the other stakeholders that could enable us to maximise our opportunities.

It’s a sad fact that many deals that are currently being forecasted to close before the end of 2017 will fade away or be lost for the same reason. So, this is probably a timely opportunity to remind ourselves of the critical importance of identifying, understanding and engaging all the stakeholders that our sales success must ultimately depend on…

It’s often easier, of course, to master a transactional sales environment or a low-value sale with relatively few stakeholders, and life is often simpler in a situation where we have already done business with the prospect and have established a positive reputation.

Stakeholder management is important even in these situations, but it becomes critical when attempting to sell a complex, high-value solution to an organisation that we have never done business with before, and it’s even more vital when the sale is a discretionary purchase sale where the prospect could easily decide to do nothing and stick with the status quo.

In fact, if we cannot identify, engage and align all the key stakeholders in these sort of deals, the most likely outcome – and our strongest competitor – is often a decision to simply stick with the status quo. It’s no wonder that fewer than 50% of forecasted deals close as predicted, or that this figure is often dramatically lower for complex B2B sales into new customers.

This is important at any time, but with one month to go before the end of the sales year, managing stakeholders effectively could turn out to be the single most important factor that ends up separating sales success from failure.

FIRST, IDENTIFY THEM…

So, what do we need to know and do? First, we need to identify all the stakeholders who will have some sort of meaningful say in whether the project should go ahead, and if so, with who. In many cases, this is easier said than done. “Invisible stakeholders” can often have a material – sometimes critical – impact on the decision.

As a rule of thumb, and according to the latest research from the CEB (now part of Gartner) the typical complex B2B buying decision now involves an average of 6.8 actively engaged stakeholders – and frequently many more. If we haven’t identified at least this number of engaged stakeholders, it’s a sign that we are probably missing some significant decision makers.

But it’s not just the absolute number of stakeholders: in typical complex buying processes, there are a range of perspectives that need to be represented in the Go to the full article.

Source:: Business 2 Community

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