Take Advantage of Influencer Relationship Management To Close More Deals

If you are leading a team of salespeople, you are most likely familiar with the following scenario: A few of your salespeople shine and meet their sales target but majority will miss their sales target on a regular basis.

When I started in sales, I’ve always been baffled how the top salespeople get to consistently perform so well while most of us are left to bite the dust. The average salesperson is going to go for a sale whenever she can. This is how salespeople are wired. We go in for the sale. In the B2B space, this is the part of the sales process where we talk to decision makers. And this is where most of us make a mistake that all too often breaks the deal.

Influencer relationship management (IRM) is a strategy that aims to build and nurture your brand’s relationships with influencers.

Failing to consider a key stakeholder -the influencers- can have a negative impact on your chances to close the deal by the time you get to talk to the decision makers.

The B2B sales process is going to involve a lot of interactions with decision-makers, influencers, and end-users. Leveraging your influencer relationships can help close more deals faster.

One of my earliest mistakes in sales was spending too much time talking to the ones I’ve since called “Zombies”. These are personnel in your client’s organizations who might like your product or service but has no significant influence nor power to make decisions. Talking to them, while important at the early stages of the sales process to get more information about the client’s challenges and their strategic roadmap, for too long can prolong your sales cycle. My rule of thumb is spend no more than 2 meetings with them then move on to meet with the next important stakeholder — the influencers within the organization.

There are a lot of ways in order for you to identify who the influencers are. While they are often the mid-management personnel, there are cases where the influencer occupies a lower position in the organizational structure. This is why it is important to be able to discern who the influencers are without bias to the position they hold.

One thing that I find very effective to identify who the influencers are is through eliciting feedback from the initial meeting with the various departments of the client. The key here is to take a look at the problem at hand and identify (1) whose neck is on the chopping block if the project or initiative fails, (2) who has the domain expertise in the areas that the project is having challenges with, and (3) who stands to benefit the most if the project is a success.

The first one is an influencer for the simple fact that she needs to ensure the success of the project and as such, is likely to be more involved with the project. This is usually the project owner or the project manager.

The second influencer you need to build relationship with is the person who is considered as the expert within the organization. Getting her support for the project would be a big boost to closing the deal. This influencer is often the technical manager, marketing manager, or both.

The last one is often the operations manager. The success of a project usually has tremendous impact on operations. For this reason, the operations manager is an influencer who you can elicit feedback from to better position your product or service as the best option to solve the challenges they face.

Once you have identified the key influencers within your client’s organization, build your relationship with them through regularly touching base with them, even if it’s just to share an informative article that you feel can help them do their job or to give them a quick call to check on the things they need help with.

What is your IRM strategy? Hit me up at chino@timefree.ph and let’s exchange notes.

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