There Is No Power Sponsor. There Are Power Sponsors.

It benefits you greatly to have a power sponsor within your dream client. It helps tremendously to have someone to act as your champion, greasing the skids for you and helping you to find your way. It’s also nice to have someone on the inside helping you to produce results after you win the opportunity.

But a better approach takes account of the fact that in major sales, there isn’t a power sponsor; there are power sponsors.


Working to identify all of the stakeholders, the people who are going to be affected by your solution, can give you the opportunity to understand your dream client’s needs and to build consensus.

The danger in sticking with your power sponsor alone is that even if you win the opportunity, you don’t have the relationships you need to make your change initiative succeed. Sometimes there isn’t an active, vocal resistance. Instead, there is a silent, passive resistance to you and your solution.

Things don’t get done. Calls don’t get returned. Things come up that prevent the next step from being taken. People drag their feet. They wait you out.

Identifying and working with all of the stakeholders as you work through the sales process not only increases the likelihood of your winning, it also improves the implementation of your solution and how fast you produce results.

If you don’t care about the people your solution effects, how can you expect them to treat you differently? But, if you invest time in learning from them and proving you care about how what you impacts them, you can expect far less resistance—and maybe even unyielding support.

Post Sale

I am always surprised at how few relationships salespeople and sales organizations have within their dream client companies after the opportunity has been won.

By staying close to all of the power sponsors, who are really decision-makers and decision-influencers, you can identify new ways to create value and new opportunities.

You can also prevent unresolved issues from turning into the festering dissatisfaction that creates and entry point for your competitors. Neglecting, ignoring, or allowing your power sponsors to become dissatisfied is a dangerous business. Sometimes, salespeople believe that if they have a strong relationship with the power sponsor who they believe to be the ultimate decision-making authority, that their client is safe. This isn’t true.

Any dissatisfaction can create an opportunity for your competitor. Those who seemingly have no power have a tremendous amount of influence among their peer group. There are sales conversations that occur all of the time without you being present, and a small group of the dissatisfied, the ignored, and the neglected can—and will—make the case for your power sponsor to meet with your competitor.

Think Relationship(s)

When you think about relationships, think about relationships—in the plural.

Think deep relationships, not a single close relationship with a person whom you believe holds the power. “Deep relationships” means relationships that run vertically north and south across your client’s organizational chart, as well as horizontally.

By expanding the number and the quality of the relationships you have within your clients, you will more than likely produce a better result more easily, and you will better prevent your client from ending up in the at-risk or lost column.


How many relationships do you really have within your client companies?

How solid are these relationships?

Do your relationships allow you to produce great results and help you find new opportunities to work on together?

Do your relationships span the organization from end to end? Or are they very narrow, confined to a single area?

Does your lack of relationships open you up to competitive threats?

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  • Anonymous

    Right on point. In my experience and studies, there are just a few proven differentiators between the top sales people and the rest. This article elaborates well on one of them. Top sales people have more and diverse contacts within their prospect and customer accounts than average performers across industries.

    A simple mathematical fact, that is.

    • Anonymous

      Love to hear more about your research on the difference between top sales performers and the rest, Scott. Got a format to share it?


      • Anonymous

        Thanks much for asking! In the next few weeks, I’m bringing work together for what I hope is a useful, unique blog. The topics you cover are very interesting and I’ll be writing about them as well. I like your stuff!

  • Wim @ Sales Sells

    Hi Anthony,

    I completely agree and this got me curious, what are your favorite ways of making new connections within your existing client’s organization? Maybe something for a follow-up post?

    Thanks for overdelivering again,

    • Anonymous

      Ahh . . . that is a whole post by itself, Wim! And one I will gladly write soon!

      Thanks for your kind words and your thoughtful comments!


  • Don F Perkins

    This sentence in your post really stands out for me: “If you don’t care about the people your solution effects, how can you expect them to treat you differently?” The relationships we build with clients where we’ve demonstrated that we can be trusted to work hard, provide value and be there for them no matter what are priceless because they truly pave the way for key opportunities.

    This is probably why many career sales people end up carrying a “book of business” from one employer the next. Great relationships are fertile ground on which to grow opportunities. If we don’t own that role, our competitors will.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks, Don! That sentence sums up a whole lot about sales effectiveness, I think!

  • Roz Bennetts

    This is a great article. There used to be a great contact anayser as part of Holden’s Power Base Selling ‘Foxguide’ that forced you to evaluate your customer contacts in terms of Ally, Supporter, Neutral or Enemy. It didn’t go as far as remapping the influence of those people and in reading your article this would be a good next step for that system – after all an Ally that as no power at all is going to be of little to no value to you.

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