The First Three Problems Building Consensus

Building consensus within your dream client account isn’t easy. These three problems occur even before you start making trade-offs and logrolling to gain consensus.

No Consensus on the Problem

One of the first problems you may have in building consensus within your dream client’s account is gaining consensus around the problem.

Some of the stakeholders you are working with, likely the most receptive, will have a very clear definition and understanding of what they believe to be their problem or challenge.

Another group of stakeholders will not believe that the problem rises to the level that it must be solved, let alone solved now.

And still another group will believe that this problem isn’t the problem the company should be focused on solving now. They may believe there is a different or more pressing problem that should be solved first.

It’s tough to gain consensus around the solution without first gaining consensus around the problem.

No Consensus on the Solution

In complex B2B sales, different people can have different ideas about what the right solution should be.

Some stakeholders will believe that one solution is clearly the right solution to remedy their dissatisfaction. But other stakeholders, particularly other groups of stakeholders, will find that a different solution is superior because it better serves their needs. The business owner may like one solution because it generates a better outcome. But the end-user stakeholders who need to execute on the solution may prefer another idea because it is easier for them to implement.

If you are going to gain consensus, you are going to need to achieve accord on a solution first.

No Consensus Around Who Decides

There is a serious problem with democratic decision-making. The implementation and execution of decisions are made more certain by obtaining the buy-in and support of all the people who are going to be affected by a decision. But because so many people are given an opportunity to participate, it can be difficult to tell who has the authority to say “yes.”

Not only is it difficult for you to discover who has the power (especially when it may not be easily determined by looking at a job title or position on an org chart), it can be difficult for your dream client to know who has the authority to approve and decide on a solution.

Some salespeople are afraid to ask questions around who the ultimate decision makers will be, but in many cases, you are doing your prospective client a favor by helping them discover how they make decisions inside their own company.

If you’re going to build consensus, you may need to help build consensus around who can decide.

Filed under: Building Consensus

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