It’s back-to-school time, and you know what that means in the business world: back-to-school metaphors! Guilty as charged. But hear us out.
We all know that pre-meeting mantra: do your homework. So for your big Q4 deal that’s currently in the pipeline you may, for example, know to push the efficiency of your solution because you’ve learned that inefficiency is one of your account’s key pain points.
You may not know, on the other hand, that there’s a hidden decision maker who can make or break your Q4 deal. It’s just one example of what you could learn by some random stroke of good fortune, but otherwise just isn’t information that’s commonly available. Even the goody two-shoes at the front of the class can’t know everything.
What most sellers don't know is that you actually can get critical insights that aren’t commonly available. You just need reliable access to someone who can give you the real lowdown. The been-there, done-that person. The person who’s there for you to diminish surprises and derailments.
If that person can also create a custom strategy with you based on your particular needs, then suddenly they’re a pretty important person. They’re the person who prepares you completely.
To school kids who want to nail their math exam, they’re tutors. To sales leaders who want to close deals with their accounts, in our world, they’re former insiders from those accounts. We call them Emissaries.
“Widely available” goes wide. Deep goes deep.
Remember when you were taking the SAT? I choose to forget it. Regardless, most of us probably used something like the Princeton Review or Kaplan to make sure we were properly prepared. It’s kind of like the way we use sales intelligence to prepare for meetings. Things like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, DiscoverOrg and DataFox are available to everyone and come in handy when we want to be better informed. But if something is created to be helpful to everyone everywhere, it by nature can only go so deep. As a result, it becomes a vehicle for more general insights, the quintessential commoditized data. A fair starting point, but not enough, especially as your deals get further along in the cycle.
The former insider, by contrast, brings that depth, that nuance into how to really navigate the account, because they were there. Let’s say that, through your research and hard work, you’ve made great headway pushing your solution through what you’ve determined to be the right channels and stakeholders. But what if you didn’t realize that there's a spend bucket within a different vertical of the organization that, at that given moment, could accommodate your solution faster? What if you also didn't realize that those stakeholders routinely get overruled by a certain chief executive at the end of the procurement process?
It’s not your fault. It’s just that deeper information that lives amongst the insiders, and you just need a way of getting to it. Again, sometimes you might get lucky and learn insights like these (a sales leader friend of mine once called it a martini-magic moment). The point is to be able to get them reliably.
Not to milk the metaphor too hard, but there’s another critical thing that tutoring does for a student: it customizes. A tutor works with a student to first understand what they know, how far they are in their understanding of the given subject, how they learn best. Then he/she devises a personalized plan for that student--the plan that works best for them.
Think of the Emissary in the same way. They know a lot about their old company, but they have to know as much about you and where you stand with the account to pull together the pieces of intelligence and advice that will truly help you. Both of you have to go deep.
Relationships minimize Q4 surprises.
Back to the school metaphor for one more second. Sometimes, at the last minute, a teacher can just change things up for no apparent reason. “I know I said tomorrow’s test is on the Battle of Dunkirk, but what the hell, let’s just make it about our entire WWII unit this year instead.” What do you do, short of just going to bed? You call your tutor and they figure out a way to help you cram. They’re there for you--you have a relationship.
Same thing with an Emissary for your end of year deal. The Head of Finance at your account--let’s call her Kate--got brought in last minute as a key approval for any deal at your price point? And your Emissary, from their time at the company, knows that Kate reacts violently to a deck that’s any more than 5 slides? Well now you know it too, and you adjust in an informed way to protect your deal.
And that’s only when you actually find out that something’s changed. Ever hear this one? “Deals don't fall apart at the end, that’s just when you’re notified.” Yep, me too. And it never hurts as bad as it does in Q4.
Here’s where an Emissary goes beyond even the tutor! Whereas a tutor would have no way of knowing that a teacher has changed a test at the last minute, an Emissary, having been on the inside and with existing connections at your account, knows when something has changed internally that might affect your deal. Well now you know that too.
It’s about depth of insight. It comes from someone who’s not only intimately in-the-know, but who’s there for you.
Deeper, nuanced information about your account--the kind of insight that could make or break a deal--has always lived purely in the heads of those inside the account. Now it’s actually accessible. So the question becomes, if you’ve done your broad homework but know you can access information that could help you more, do you leave it at the broad homework? Or do you take advantage of the opportunity to leave no stone unturned--to be prepared completely?
Not exactly sure where that Q4 deal stands? Maybe it’s time to call you tutor.
Get a tutor for your Q4 deals.