How to Spot -- and Win Over -- Your Account Influencers

Posted by Kelsey McGillis on June 13, 2017

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Gone are the days of finding the one decision maker needed to close your deal. Today’s enterprise deals require you to identify at least five key players -- and they need to be impressed.

SaaS veteran and Vice President of Customer Success at Contently, Emilia Brad, gives tried and true tips on finding -- and winning over -- every account player in your sales cycle.

Finding the Gatekeepers
Who is asking data security and integration questions? Those are your gatekeepers

For SaaS companies, the most common gatekeepers are CTOs, VPs of technology or IT executives. They’ll focus their questions on data security and integrations.

“If the gatekeeper is in the room and vocal, you’re going to get one of two things: a green light right then and there, or he’ll attempt to block the deal from the outset,” Brad says. “If the latter is the case, the smartest thing to do is keep the meeting on track by offering to address his concerns offline with a deep dive into security or ease of integration.”


Finding the Influencers
Who are the power-users? Those are your influencers

With influencers, a more nuanced approach is required. This person may be a trusted senior stakeholder or a knowledgeable junior player, but either way, he’ll come from a different team.

“The influencer is usually an internal customer of your power-user,” Brad says. “He’s not just a person everyone likes and trusts, but someone who has a stake and will benefit from your solution. To win him over, you’ll need to make him believe that your solution will make the power-user’s department more accurate, more efficient or more productive, which nets him a secondary benefit.”  

"He’s not just a person everyone likes and trusts, but someone who has a stake and will benefit from your solution."
Emilia Brad, VP of Customer Success at Contently

In some cases, the influencer will be the one who opened the door for your sales staff in the first place. In that case, you have even more work to do; the decision maker and power-user will be less informed—and more skeptical—about your product, so go the extra mile with your initial presentation. But don’t be afraid to let the influencer bear some of the burden of proof here.

“If an influencer brought you in, it’s because he sees value in your solution for the power-user’s team and, secondarily, for his own,” she says. “Let him advocate for you during the meeting. Have him articulate the benefits of your technology, and then your sales team can follow up by adding clarity and pointing out additional features and value.”


Finding the Stakeholders
Who is hyper-focused on pricing and ROI? That’s your stakeholder

If the senior attendee isn’t making the procurement decision, who is? According to Brad, the next step is to consider the questions each attendee asks.

“The person asking a lot of tactical questions about features and day-to-day use is likely the power-user,” she says. “In smaller companies, the power-user may hold the purse strings, but in larger organizations, the decision maker is typically the power-user’s boss.”

When in doubt, your best bet is to hone in on the stakeholder who’s asking about immediate value. Look for who’s asking questions about pricing and ROI and focus your energy on them.


Finding the Decision Makers
Who is leading the meeting? Those are your decision makers

Identifying the decision maker starts with a scan of the room, says Emilia Brad, SaaS veteran and vice president of customer success at content marketing tech provider Contently.

Observe the most senior person present. Is she leading the meeting? “In that case, she’s probably the one making the decision,” Brad says. “But if she’s just a passive participant or leaves early, that’s a sign she’s delegated the decision to someone else.”


"If she’s just a passive participant or leaves early, that’s a sign she’s delegated the decision to someone else."
Emilia Brad, VP of Customer Success at Contently


Getting the inside truth of your account

No one likes walking into a pitch meeting with an audience of unknowns. But knowing the org chart isn’t enough to discover who’s really holding the purse strings.

Topics: Sales Intelligence, Marketing Technology