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  • Writer's pictureJames Purvis

Rethinking the Role of a Champion in Collaborative Deal Making: Is 'No Champion = No Deal' Outdated?

For years, the mantra in tech sales has been clear: no champion, no deal. These internal advocates have been hailed as kingmakers, smoothing the path to victory and securing wins even in the most complex sales cycles. But in today's collaborative, customer-centric landscape, is a single champion-centric approach still the golden ticket, or is it time for a rethink?

This article delves into the evolvement of collaborative deal-making and challenges the status quo that a single champion is enough to get the deal done.

Forget the Lone Ranger: Why Multiple Champions Rule the Enterprise Sales Game in 2024 and Beyond:

For years we have been winning deals by focusing on the "knight in shining armor" within a company. The person who has power and influence with the economic buyer and can expand the audience to build their case to buy something new. We could single-handedly secure a deal by getting this person's buy-in (despite what the other influencers say or want). This is the champion we have all been taught about. They are the 'C' in MEDDIC.  Let there be no mistake, they are still a critical and a required component of any given deal. The old adage, No champion = No deal still holds true and always will. However, I've quickly noticed a shift to a more collaborative enterprise sales landscape, making the traditional, single-threaded champion approach quickly become a relic of the past. 

"We don't sell software. We build champions who sell software." - Brian McCarthy, Rubrik CRO

Here's why relying on just one champion is a recipe for lost opportunities in today's sales world:

1. The Rise of the Buying Committee: Gone are the days of single decision-makers. Today, enterprise purchases involve a complex web of stakeholders – from technical experts to budget holders and executives. Each has their own priorities and concerns, and neglecting any one voice can derail the entire deal.

2. Siloed Knowledge is a Dead End: Each stakeholder brings unique expertise and insights. Relying solely on one champion's perspective limits your understanding of the entire needs of the business and the challenges others face within the organization. This can lead to misaligned solutions, stalled deals, and ultimately, dissatisfaction.

3. The Power of the Crowd: Building consensus across multiple champions fosters broader buy-in and ownership. When different individuals (and even departments) are invested in the solution, implementation becomes smoother, adoption increases, and long-term success is more likely.

For example, here at Rubrik, we see deals move much more efficiently and effectively when we involve both IT Operations and IT Security in the overall decision.

4. Sharing the Workload, Sharing the Success: Champions often face internal resistance and challenges. Spreading the advocacy across multiple individuals distributes the workload and creates a more resilient support system for your solution.

5. Future-Proofing Your Partnership: Champions are human, and they can leave or change roles. Building relationships with multiple individuals ensures continuity and minimizes risk if your main champion exits.

In tech sales, I believe there are three champions required in the new world order:

  1. Business Champion - the person with power and influence with the Economic Buyer

  2. Technical Champion - the person with the most power and influence with the Business Champion. If they say "no" to a technology, the Business Champion won't override their decision.

  3. Procurement Champion - the key person with the most power and influence within the purchasing department. They can expedite (or stall) the transaction from happening.

So how do you cultivate a multi-champion ecosystem?

  • Map the Buying Committee: Identify all relevant stakeholders and their roles in the decision-making process. You can do this simply by building out an org chart, make some assumptions, and verify these assumptions with your champions, coaches, and influencers.

  • Engage Early and Broadly: Once you have mapped out the buying committee, ask your champion to introduce you to these folks (hint: If they are reluctant to do so, they might not be your champion after all). In parallel, proactively reach out to different departments, try and understand their wants and needs, and demonstrate the value you offer. This is multi-threading at its finest.

Critical: Build a relationship with folks in procurement as early as possible. It will help you get ahead of the paper process and make future negotiations far easier as you establish trust early.

  • Tailor Your Message: Understand each champion's unique perspective and tailor your communication accordingly. For example, a technical champion is going to have different requirements and metrics than a business champion or procurement champion.

A great exercise you can leverage here is 3 Whys.

  • Foster Collaboration: Encourage open communication between champions and different departments to build trust and consensus. Check out 5 Ways to Test Your Champion.

  • Celebrate Collective Success: If you end up being awarded the business, make sure you recognize the contributions of all champions individually, not just the one "hero." It will kick off the relationship in a positive light.

By embracing a multi-champion approach, you shift from a narrow, champion-centric perspective to a collaborative, customer-centric partnership. It's a strategy that builds stronger relationships, increases deal success rates, and ensures long-term wins in today's complex enterprise landscape.

The power of many outweighs the limitations of one



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