With more than 15 people, on average, involved in enterprise IT purchases, Iarge and complex B2B buying centers can feel like minefields to salespeople today. Decisions get made by committee. Software and technology purchase decision-making expands beyond IT, as more stakeholders have a say in the process.—and each of them have their own priorities. Is it any wonder, in this context, that “save money”and “avoid risk” would become watchwords? That’s where undergoing stakeholder analysis becomes so critical.
It gets even worse when it comes to higher-value deals. In that case, you’re likely dealing with—ballpark—five or more different buying centers. Ouch.
To win in such an environment, you need to fundamentally rethinking who, and how, you target. When one in five decision-makers turns over every year, who has staying power, plus the seniority to push through obstacles? Who can arm you with visibility into the complete process from end to end, so your deal doesn’t get stuck in procurement? Who has real authority?
Read on for answers to these and other questions to perform stakeholder analysis. And if you want to move more deals to the next stage of the sales cycle, read our Ultimate IT Enterprise Sales Playbook.
Ally yourself with the business team (just don’t exclude everyone else)
While going through the business team remains a best practice, gone are the days when they could reliably clear a path for you all the way to the “closed won” column. Today, the bottom line is that banking entirely on any one player, at the expense of all others, simply isn’t a good strategy.
There are now a raft of other stakeholders with seats—and voices—at the table. In general, they can be categorized into four groups: gatekeepers, decision-makers, influencers, and blockers. And if they don’t speak up, then they don’t feel like they’re adding value to the process.
“It’s just their general practice to reach into the business teams—usually they get the bite,” said our Emissary, the former senior director, enterprise digital at CVS. “But then when it gets down to contracting and working out the details, that’s when they hit the obstacles.”
So bring other stakeholders into the conversation early. Listen closely to their needs, empower them with information, and work with them on due diligence.
You need to win over stakeholders on every side
Ever seen a linear sales model in practice, one in which you win buy-in from the right people, at the right time, in sequence? Neither have we. The reality is enterprise stakeholders aren’t going to fall into place like the team in Ocean’s Eleven.
Think about all of the different pieces that come with a tech stack: There’s integration, security, hosting, and storage—to name just a few—never mind the essential functionality of the application.
How do these pieces work together? How do they touch on the unique priorities of each stakeholder? And how will they be integrated into legacy systems? Answer these questions and you’ll be on your way to a closed deal.
At the end of the day, IT sales are collaborative, so you need to take a collaborative approach and demonstrate value to each stakeholder if you want to be successful.
Take the pain out of procurement
You’ve moved the deal along and the end is in sight—congratulations. But what can you do to keep your deal from getting stuck in procurement? And how can you unstick it if it does?
First of all, do as much stakeholder analysis research as possible to get a clear picture of how the internal organization actually works. Who ultimately owns the procurement process? Are there requirements you should know about ahead of time?
In the past, business teams owned procurement, but their role is changing. Many companies today are focused on the big-picture alignment of tech solutions with finance and IT, which means that issues like implementation and security can be dealt with early on.
So you can’t wait until the later stages of the sales cycle to address issues related to IT and stakeholder analysis. If you do, you need to be prepared for your deal to stall—or tank altogether. Getting out ahead of the process allows you to strategically prepare responses, manage uncertainty more effectively, and overcome objections.