Though much has changed in today’s business environment, we see one thing that hasn’t that matters a lot if you’re engaged in any new business pursuit activities. The typical stakeholder group in a pursuit process remains diverse, large and can easily span multiple time zones and job functions. Harvard Business Review cited research that said, on average, complex B2B sales typically now involve 5.4 stakeholders. In many cases, stakeholder groups include multiple c-suite level execs, and require buy-in from middle managers, adding another layer of complexity.
We’re sharing 3 key steps for your pursuit team to win over large, complex stakeholder teams. These steps apply equally to the current environment and the new world that we’re likely to see when we emerge from the COVID-19 restrictions.
Step 1: Separate Solution & Pursuit Development Processes
Streamlining your solution & pursuit development processes will keep your pursuit team focused on these two critically important steps without confusing the focus of each. Begin the pursuit development process early on, preferably before the solutions development process. This allows your pursuit team to spend their energies understanding motivations and drivers of the stakeholders. They should be experimenting with different win themes and sales messages that are responses to the details they learn about each of them. Separately, your solution team is working on creative, innovative ideas that will eventually be integrated into the proposal. By separating these steps, it allows your team to work efficiently and not tangle thinking required for the two different processes.
Step 2: Deep Dive on All Stakeholders
Spending time on the front end understanding your stakeholders individually is vital. Don’t short-change this step. It requires lots of time, and is worth the investment.
When faced with a particularly large stakeholder group, it becomes even more important. Identify individuals who are clearly champions of your bid, and those who are against. Once you know this, you can strategize how to reinforce the positive perceptions and change the negative ones. You may decide that a certain subgroup is going to vote against you no matter what, and you can identify your biggest supporters too. This intelligence allows you to put more of your efforts into developing messages for the ones you think you can bring into (or keep in) your corner.
Step 3: Craft Persuasive Messages
Using knowledge from stakeholder deep dives, your pursuit teams can now create different messages for different stakeholders, while also finding ways to connect those messages to help drive consensus. Give each important stakeholder several persuasive messages within your submission that will move that individual to vote YES for you.
Your pursuit teams need to leverage knowledge from your research gathering stage, stakeholder analysis and solution processes to craft a response that brings a diverse stakeholder team together. It’s an undertaking that few pursuit teams master, but that is becoming increasingly important in today’s B2B marketplace.
- Bob Wiesner, Managing Partner, Americas