In my articles, I'm often referencing the famous sales methodology MEDDIC (if you are not familiar with MEDDIC or need a refresher, read this article.) For those of you who follow and understand MEDDIC, you know the "C" stands for Champion and a Champion is the most important component to any given deal. More on that later. But what really defines a sales champion? What's the difference between a Coach and a Champion?
In this article, I'm going to leave you with a clear depiction between the two and help you spend time more efficiently and focus on the deals that matter.
The 3 Requirements of a Sales Champion
In it's simplest terms, a Champion is the person within the organization that will sell for you when you are not there. Although this is a critical element, there is more to it than that. For example, you could be working with an influencer in the deal who loves your product and is selling on your behalf internally but is too low-level and is convincing people that can't make an impact. This is not your Champion.
To help define a Champion, let's break down the requirements that make up a Champion which are:
They must have power and influence
There has to be something in it for them
They must sell on your behalf when you are not there
Note: It's important to know that if the person you have identified as a Champion doesn't meet all three criteria above, they are not your Champion.
1. Power and Influence
The first requirement of a Sales Champion is that this person must have power and influence. It's important to remember that your Champion will be the key person guiding you through the decision making process and hold a key role within that process. They will be helpful in defining and controlling the success criteria and tell you where to focus your efforts.
As the deal progresses, this person can exploit their power by connecting you to all the right people and be your advocate during those conversations. They will have access to the Economic Buyer and when the time is right, even sponsor a meeting for you and with this person.
More often than not, a Champion will have a Director or VP title and a strong personality to go with it. Pair this up with a track record for getting deals done makes them well respected in the organization and demonstrates their force and impact on decisions.
2. Personal Interest
Something easily forgotten but something to remember is that a Sales Champion is only going to push hard to help you out if there is something in it for them. This could be a promotion, a way to save their job, gain respect from the leadership team, or some sort of monetary gain.
It's extremely important to find out what their personal win is so you can emphasize during the campaign how your product and solution can help them get there. Their motivation is usually fueled by either fear of loss or a desire for gain.
Finding out what their personal gain is usually takes some time to uncover. This is not something you should jump out of the gate asking your Champion as it can throw them off or even come off as rude. I suggest asking once a strong rapport and trusted relationship has been built. You can also fish around for this information with others in the account (such as your Coach) as people close to your Champion will most likely know if their is something specific up for grabs.
When #1 and #2 are running on all cylinders, the icing on the cake is having this person sell internally on our behalf - especially when you are not there. No matter how good you are at selling, the most important sales person in a deal is the Champion. They have ultimate trust within the organization and their influencing power will always be stronger than yours. Because of this, it's important that you empower your Champion with the talk track, business justification, and resources they need to get the deal done.
Having an advocate is the easiest of the three requirements to identify. You can tell if your Champion is on your side in many ways. Here are a few:
They share with you their personal gain in having your product win
They sell in front of you to their team in meetings
They tend to ask a lot of questions
They are happy to give you their cell phone #
They get to know you on a personal level
They reach out to you for help
They respond quickly to your outreach
They attend your events
They wear your swag
Want to know how to test your Champion? Read this article
What is a Coach?
By now, you should have a clear understanding of what makes up a Sales Champion. However, often times sales reps mistake this person with a Coach in a deal and it's critically important to understand the difference between the two.
The key factor in determining if you have a Coach versus a Champion refers to requirement #1 from above. If the person doesn't have power & influence, they are not a Champion. They may be your advocate and are pushing your product or service to other influencers in the account, but don't let that confuse you. Without true power and the ability to sway the final decision with the Economic Buyer, you merely have an influencer.
Let's make no mistake, a Coach is also a very important in a deal. They are a "guide" that you typically have more access to and can generate imperative touch points that are helpful in keeping the deal moving forward.
To help you decipher between a Coach vs. Champion, here are some tell tale signs you have a Coach:
Manager title or lower
They typically have a lot more time for you than a Champion does
Don't have access to the Economic Buyer
Uncertainty around the business justification
Talk a lot about the features of the solution as opposed to monetary or risk benefits
Defer to their management with regards to decision-making process questions
Are quieter in meetings when the Champion is in the room
Both Coaches and Champions are important in your deals but if you don't have a Champion, you don't have a deal.