All your meetings have gone well. Everyone you talked to at your buyer’s organization was really engaged. You asked good questions, and they gave great feedback. They really seemed to grasp how your particular solution could help their business. You are thinking that you have a great buyer supplier relationship management process.
But you didn’t get the deal. There were lingering compatibility questions that your tech team took ages to address, and during that time, another vendor swooped in and won the business. But even if your tech team had moved faster, you wouldn’t have won the deal. In fact, you were never going to win the deal for one simple reason: You didn’t have an an internal advocate to carry the deal across the goal line.
We asked our Emissaries about the important role of advocates and they all agreed—establishing an advocate and empowering them with the info they need to sell your solution internally is the surest way to a sale. Here’s how to start establishing and maintaining a productive buyer supplier relationship management system.
Find the right advocate and build trust
Every company’s different. How many channels of approval will your product have to pass through before a deal can be signed? Who are the decision-makers at each step? Who ultimately gets the final say?
Partnering with an advocate who is well-versed in the knowledge above can help demystify your prospect’s organization and light the way forward to a successful sale—so choose wisely.
Our Emissaries said that the more senior the contact, the better. And identifying someone who has a clear understanding of (and excitement about) your solution makes for a stronger partnership.
“You really want someone who has a good reputation internally, who isn’t afraid to try new things—those are going to be the best people,” said a former marketing executive at GNC. “I’ve seen managers, senior managers, and directors all getting big things done because they were bought-in and understood how the product would benefit their business.”
But building a relationship with an internal advocate is a two-way street—you need to gain their confidence before you can start any kind of productive partnership. Buyers today are inundated with pitches and can smell BS from a mile away. Build trust with your advocate by offering honest insights into their audience, content, or competitors. Any information they can use to make their team more effective will be welcomed as an asset.
Buyer Supplier Relationship Management: Follow up to strengthen ties
They got you a meeting, shared details about their company, and outlined what you can expect going forward. But don’t cut ties just yet.
Following up and continuing to nurture a relationship with your advocate will enable you to maintain momentum after the pitch and convey your genuine interest in pursuing the business.
“The follow-up is critically important,” said one former senior director of marketing at Cisco. “I can’t tell you how many pitch meetings I’ve been to where there was no follow-up. No call, no response. Even if you think you might be annoying, you probably aren’t. You’ll build respect through your aggressive pursuit of the business.”
So what would our Emissaries like to hear in a follow-up? In many ways it’s similar to how you won their trust in the first place—providing value through actionable insights and new knowledge that can power their business.
Were there any questions you weren’t able to answer in the meeting? Answer them in an email. Did you come across an article your advocate would find interesting? Send it along.
Ask your own questions, too. That promotes dialogue and shows you’re interested in maintaining a mutually beneficial buyer supplier relationship, rather than just gunning for a sale.
Help your advocate help you
Roadblocks are likely to emerge as your solution funnels through the different stages of internal review. You’ve kept the lines of communication open with your advocate, they’re excited about the product—and want it to sell—but maybe they’re not very technical, or maybe they are but just don’t have the time to thoroughly address all the feedback they’re getting from IT or security.
That’s why our Emissaries emphasized the importance of arming your advocate with the knowledge and tools necessary to address key concerns along the way. Use the insight into the organization’s purchasing process you gleaned from working with your partner to anticipate the important questions.
Momentum is the name of the game, and placing your advocate in a position to accurately address concerns will help keep the ball rolling. They’ve likely heard your pitch and should have a clear understanding of what you’re offering, but it’s important to go further.
Our GNC Emissary recommended compiling FAQ sheets and other documentation outlining your company’s approach to cybersecurity. The most important thing, though, is to take the initiative. “Be proactive,” the Emissary told us. “Say, ‘This is a technical person on our side that is available to speak with your smart technical person whenever you’re ready to talk more.'”
Put people in contact to show that you (and your teammates) are ready and willing to help, so that if an issue does arise there’s no wasted time in responding.