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Sales Training: The Dos and Don’ts of Developing an Internal Champion

There is no doubt that a strong internal champion can pay huge dividends, but why is developing internal champions one of the more effective sales practices? The answer is that a lot of discussions and decisions about the “winner” take place when you’re not there. Therefore, if you have a champion in the room, it’s more likely you’ll have a better outcome.

Like many exceptional sales strategies, developing an internal champion is not easy.  It requires substantial thought, time, and effort to get favorable results and the negative consequences can be telling – if you don’t get it right and your competition does, it could be the difference between winning and losing.

Below are some of the traps that you need to avoid when developing internal champions:

  • Confusing friends with champions – A major trap is failing to distinguish between someone who likes you and someone who is an internal champion; the latter will probably be fond of you as well, but champions have the added characteristic of being willing to “sell” for you when you are not there – big difference.
  • Selecting the wrong person – To be effective, an internal champion not only has to be willing to be your champion, they also have to be a player in decision making. People you develop as champions cannot be of much benefit if they do not have decisive authority. In a complex sale, this is an easy trap to fall into as it’s often difficult to determine the true decision making authority or influential power that various players possess.  A wrong selection can be telling because of the time and effort it takes to develop a truly effective internal champion.
  • Failing to rehearse your champion – Let’s consider a scenario in which you have a champion that likes your solution, is willing to speak up for you in a key upcoming internal meeting and is one of the primary participants in the decision process. Sound good? The trap is the failure to leverage your advantage. The final step in a scenario such as this is to rehearse your champion on how best to sell for you in that upcoming meeting. You’re the sales person – your champion isn’t – so help them to help you.

We all likely have internal champions.  Consider what they are realistically able to accomplish on your behalf.  Their development will be a cornerstone to your success in securing major accounts, so consider who you are pursuing to be your champion and why.

Interested in receiving more sales training tips? Check our the web seminar recap from this week’s free web seminar Strategies for Sales Professionals. This one-hour web seminar covered the 5 attributes of highly successful sales professionals, managing price expectations/price objections, and understanding your potential buyers (and their roles).

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