Securing Executive Sponsorship is Key to Sales Effectiveness
Looking for a way to improve your sales close rate and improve your control over sales cycles? One of the easiest ways to improve your sales effectiveness in those areas is to improve your ability to secure executive sponsorship for your sales opportunities.
What is Executive Sponsorship?
This type of sponsorship is where an executive becomes an advocate or champion for a project. All projects will have a project manager, but they may or may not have a sponsor from a high level in the organization. If the project or sales opportunity has sponsorship from an executive, it will have someone who at a senior level who is endorsing it, looking over it, and helping it to move along.
How to get it?
Sponsorship at an executive level is not an easy thing to secure. The easiest way to consistently sell with sponsorship at the top level is to only sell at the top. The challenge with that is, even if we operate with all intentions and efforts on selling only to executives, we will typically find ourselves working at all levels in the organization. With this being the case, it is up to the sales team to make the executive sponsorship a priority and to officially make it happen. Below are four steps to take to make this happen.
1. Identify the potential sponsor: Identify which executive would be the right sponsor to secure. This ideally would be the senior manager that is impacted most by the project and the person that would have the most interest. It would also be worth while to identify why this person has not already sponsored the project.
2. Build business case: Build a business case of how the purchase of your products and the project for the prospect will benefit the company and benefit the executive. This may have already have been done as part of the sales process and if so it may need to be tailored to any interests that are particular to the potential sponsor.
3. Ask for meeting: Ask for a meeting with the executive to share the business case. This can be done by asking you main contact or coach to help get a meeting schedule or you can reach out to the executive directly to ask for the meeting. If not handled correctly, this is the step that could get the most resistance as the executive’s time is both valuable and limited and you can get push back. If push back is received, the best response is to realize that your time is valuable too, as are the benefits that you are proposing that you will bring to the company. If you get push back, than you may want to push back to the prospect in the direction of saying something like below:
“If the executive does not have time to discuss, then the project might not be important at this time. If it is not important now, why would we think that they will approve and fund when we reach that point. If we don’t validate their support and interest in this project, we could risk spending a tremendous amount of time with the result of this not going anywhere. With that being said, what direction would you like to go?”
4. Ask for executive sponsorship: When you meet with the executive, present your business case for why the project makes sense and all of the expected benefits. Once you confirm their understanding and agreement with what you presented, simply ask for their executive sponsorship of the project.
Why is executive sponsorship so important?
Executive sponsorship is key as it will drastically improve your probability your sale closing and it will also drastically shorten your sales cycle. This is because when you have an executive bless and endorse a project, people in the organization will be more likely to work with you and help move the project along. Also, if the project gets off track, you then have a senior person that you can go to for guidance, advice, and support. Lastly, this process can help your close rate because it can help you to disqualify opportunities that only have potential to waste your time with no revenue.