You may have done good work building the relationship with your power sponsor, you may have spent your time deep in the inner workings of their company, and you may even have some support from the C-suites.
Still, much of the selling that goes on inside your dream client goes on without you. There are conversations that occur after you leave, questions that spring up from out of nowhere, and there are dissenters and obstacles. The unfortunate fact is that you aren’t around to participate in the conversations, to answer the questions, or to try to help resolve the concerns of the dissenters and the obstacles.
You need surrogates to sell on your behalf. And you need them well trained and well armed if you are to sell your solution and the change it brings.
Provide Them With the Answers
Knowing that you won’t be there when the questions are asked, you need to provide your power sponsors and supporters with the answers to the questions that you anticipate them being asked.
There are common questions that are going to be asked by any stakeholder who may not have participated in meetings or who arrive late to the process. Your power sponsors and supporters need to have the answers to these questions.
There are also the common concerns that anyone who undergoes a change initiative like the one you are recommending is going to be right to have—along with the right to have them addressed. You can provide this fairly easily, too.
But more important than these are the specific questions and concerns that you have picked up as you have gone through the sales process. These questions and concerns are whispered underground and they are spread by contact, from dissenter to dissenter, and from obstacle to obstacle.
Change initiatives mean disruption of the status quo, and the status quo always fields a tough team.
You have heard these concerns and the dissent. Prepare the responses, prepare the rebuttal, prepare the answers, and prepare the narrative as to why change is necessary and how the future will be better because of it. Arm your sponsors and supporters with the documentation, the presentations, and the logic–and the emotional case–to deal with the challenges that they will face in your absence.
Leaving them unarmed and unprepared means giving the status quo the upper hand—as well as home field advantage.
Give Them a Backup Plan
Some of your sponsors and supporters are going to have trouble with a serious challenge or threat. Your dream client needs a backup plan.
First, let them know that should there be questions or concerns that they are not prepared to answer, that you are a phone call away. Let them know that if there are threats to your shared vision, that they are free to schedule a meeting for you to answer the questions, face-to-face, and onsite.
The best practice is to schedule these meetings with the individuals that have the concerns, addressing them independent of other concerned parties. You only have to bring together a large group of dissenters and obstacles one time to learn that there is a better and often more effective method than gathering together an angry mob—especially when you are the source of their energy.
You may be able to run a charm offensive individually, but dealing with a group is another story (for another blog post).
Your Shared Vision (and the ROI)
Your dream client shares your vision of the future. They need crib notes that outline where you are going together, what that future looks like in the way of better results, and how those results translate to a return on their investment in the time and energy that accompanies any change initiative.
Your job is to make sure that they have everything that they need to sell in your absence, and that they have access to you when they need you.
How can you help your client to be prepared for all of the conversations and questions that come up after you leave their offices?
Have you kept a running record of the concerns and issues that you have discovered as you have completed your discovery work and needs analysis? Do you know who has asked what questions, expressed which concerns, and have you found a way to mitigate and resolve those concerns? Do they know how you intend to do so? Is your dream client sponsor prepared to deal with them on your behalf?
Do you have the follow up appointments scheduled so that you have an opportunity to be seen (showing how much you care) and heard (your ideas that will make the dissenters and obstacles happy participants or weaken their resistance)?
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