To get the Challenger® Sales Model right, it is critical to identify and engage the stakeholders who matter most. In a recent blog post, we discussed how the most important stakeholders are known as the mobilizers. While it’s critical for sales teams to get the right sales training to identify mobilizers, this is extremely challenging, thanks to the number of stakeholders and the complexity of enterprise structure. Reps who rely on traditional sales approaches will fail to identify and engage these individuals.
Sales teams must have an innovative, visual approach to identify the mobilizers who matter most.
Who are Mobilizers?
HBR’s article, The End of Solution Sales, defined mobilizers as the go-getters, teachers, and skeptics of an organization. They are the individuals who are focused first and foremost on driving productive change within their organization.
The notion that sales training reps should focus on mobilizers departs from the traditional sales approach of the past. In conventional sales training, reps are encouraged to find the advocates and coaches – those individuals who are most accessible and willing to meet with sales reps. Mobilizers, on the other hand, are much harder to identify and engage, as they are often supplier-agnostic. They want to talk about their company, not yours. Because of this, sales reps must take a unique and innovative approach to not only identify these critical individuals but actually engage with them.
Characteristics of Mobilizers based on the Challengers Sales Model
CEB offers some great tips on how to identify the most important Challenger Customers – the mobilizers. They outlined the top four things to look for in a stakeholder:
- Healthy Skepticism: A stakeholder who asks challenging, thought-provoking questions indicates they have the internal credibility needed to enable others to act. The key to this tale is presenting disruptive insights in front of the customer – while we know Challengers lead with insight, your best customers will demand evidence and prod at a new idea to pressure-test its true credibility.
- Interested in the Greater Good: Contacts who speak in terms of the company’s benefit are often looked to as credible sources of advice. On the other hand, those who are only looking for personal gain are often distrusted by others, and not credible carriers of your message.
- Communication Style: While not indicative of Mobilizer potential, a contact’s tendency to speak in terms of facts or stories helps determine what type of Mobilizer a contact is and how a sales rep will need to interact with them.
- Follow Through: The final test of Mobilizer potential is whether a contact can follow through on promises; proposing next steps helps gauge the ability and commitment of a Mobilizer to build consensus.”
Effectively Identify Mobilizers with Relationship Maps
While these characteristics are a helpful start, you need more to accurately identify mobilizers and determine your next steps forward. To identify and engage with mobilizers, you need relationship maps that visualize this complex organizational and political structure of buying centers including who matters, who influences who, what each individual cares about, and so on.
Relationship maps are visual maps of the key players that enable sales teams to quickly identify the ‘must have’ votes and where the risks are in an account or opportunity. A recent McKinsey article reinforced the value of relationship maps, claiming “companies that manage relationships well use deal-relationship maps to understand who matters, as well as what matters to each party: price, quality, service”.
Operationalize Your Challenger Sales Approach with Execution Playbooks
After a stakeholder has been qualified, and a mobilizer has been identified, you must tailor your approach and roadmap to the mobilizer customer type. Simply identifying the Mobilizer in an organization doesn’t mean you will close a deal. Reps must actually engage the mobilizers and tailor their pitch to what these individuals care about most.
Uncover Commercial Insights with Issues Maps
Done well, Commercial Insight is provocative. It challenges the customer’s current worldview—or Mental Model—about how things are supposed to be. This will help stakeholders understand, as a group, that they need to change their business.
You need to engage Mobilizers early in the purchasing process using content focused on Commercial Insight. To do this, hunt for hidden connections between your value proposition and your customer’s higher-order outcomes, or the top-of-mind issues and initiatives they care about most.
An issues map charts out the goals, objectives, and initiatives across the buyer organization, enabling strategic sellers to align their solutions directly to the areas that will create value for the client.
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