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  • Writer's picturebob56314

What's the difference between a coach and a champion?

Many of us who work in SaaS sales are often guilty of the same thing: assuming that the person we have the best relationship with at a prospective client is our champion.

And while we may sometimes get lucky and strike sales gold by finding a champion straight away, that doesn’t always happen. Most people we build relationships with are coaches, not champions – and without a true champion, you won’t win the business.

So, what’s the difference between a coach and a champion?

It’s very simple.

Two words best describe whether someone is a coach or a champion: influence and authority.

If the person you are dealing with is able to influence the decision their company is looking to make, but they don’t have any authority regarding the final decision, then that person is a coach. They can still be very helpful, and should be nurtured and respected, but they won’t be in a position to help you win the deal.

If, however, they have both influence and authority in the decision-making process, then they are a champion – and you should (1) focus on finding out what’s important to them, both personally and professionally, about the solution they’re looking to implement and (2) find out how you can help them achieve their goals with your solution.

It’s that straightforward. Finding out whether they have both influence and authority is essential to determining whether they could be a real champion – or not.

So, now you know what a champion is, how can you test your champion to see if they are actually prepared to champion you and your solution?

Information and access are key here. Is your relationship with them good enough that they are happy to give you valuable information, such as what your competition is up to and who favours them within their company? Will they tell you what’s important to other stakeholders in their business? If they are prepared to give you access to the economic buyer, then you’re on to a winner: they have passed the test and are a true champion.

Of course, not everyone will give you all three of these things, but if your champion realises that you are genuinely focused on solving their problems and helping them achieve their personal and professional goals, they are more likely to open up to you. This will help you both achieve a win-win outcome for your respective businesses.

A champion has both influence and authority in the buying decision


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