By Jeff Beals
Not all influencers are champions and not all champions are influencers, but often one person can play both roles.
Influencers and champions play such important roles in the sales effort that savvy professionals work hard to identify them and manipulate them. Sales pros can win over influencers, but they have to create champions.
What’s the difference between the two terms? Quite a bit, even though they often work hand-in-hand.
An influencer is someone who helps a prospect make decisions and often sways that decision. The influencer is someone special or important in the prospect’s life to whom he or she turns for advice, guidance and sometimes even accountability. Some influencers are neutral and objective, preferring to play a listening and counseling role, helping prospects come to their own decisions. Other influencers have definite opinions and try to talk the prospect into making a certain buying decision.
Champions are biased by definition. They champion a cause or organization in which they believe. They are advocates. They are cheerleaders. They endorse and give testimony for those they believe in. For many possible reasons, they are loyal to one company above all its competitors.
The more champions you have, the more successful you’ll be in whatever you are trying to accomplish. Sales professionals need specific strategies for developing and deploying champions as well as how to identify and win over influencers. When you encounter an influencer, you want to turn them into a champion. If you can get the person who influences the buying decision, especially if the influencer is particularly influential, to become your raving fan, your chances of landing the business are outstanding.
Here are 14 things to think about when it comes to influencers and champions:
Find the real decision maker. Sometimes it’s hard to tell
Identify your prospect’s influencers and turn them into champions
You can win over an influencer, but champions must be created
A champion will continue selling for you even when you are not around
One of the easiest ways to identify influencers is to simply ask the prospect who helps them make their decisions
Be wary of false influencers. Some people don’t have as much influence over your prospect as you might think
Develop a trusting relationship with the influencer just as you would with the would-be client
Turn influencers into champions by thoroughly explaining complicated matters. Give extra value and spend extra time
When prospect and influencer are in agreement, you have a higher likelihood of retaining the prospect once he or she becomes a client
Implement a plan that deliberately develops champions
Use your champions for intelligence, not just influence and persuasion
If you are fortunate enough to have champions, keep your mind open to their suggestions
Find ways to reward your most loyal champions
Ideally, champions should see themselves as extensions of your organization
Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (402) 637-9300.
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