Finding a Champion to Close Your Deal

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Two years ago, Microsoft made a huge investment, giving Barnes and Noble $300 million for a stake in the Nook business. Just last week, Barnes and Noble bought out Microsoft for $125 million, effectively costing Microsoft half their investment in under 24 months.

Both big and small deals get made in business every day. So, how do you effectively influence decision-makers to move your own agenda forward?

Recently, Harvard Business Review published an article called The Stakeholders You Need to Close a Big Deal. In the piece, author Paul V. Weinstein describes the three types of executives you’ll run into as you negotiate through a project, seek an investment, or try to drive change in business.

Decision Makers: Weinstein calls the senior executives who have the ability to say green-light an investment or project “decision makers.” Because these people will ultimately be held responsible for the outcome of the decision, they are typically risk-averse. In addition, because they tend to operate at a high level, they rely on others to advise them of the nuts-and-bolts of any proposal.

Blockers: While decision makers may be risk-averse, the “blockers” actively try to put a stop to deals. It may be because they are competing for limited resources, or they may have an alternate proposal. Since they’ll usually be influencing the decision makers, It’s important that you’re aware of who the blockers are in completing a deal and understand their positions.

Champions: The most critical people for you to identify are the “champions.” A champion usually does not hold a position of power. They are known for their ability to identify the right people and influence them effectively.

Weinstein says that the primary motivation of champions is status. Because they are actively seeking to create change and improve their visibility, they tend to be much more accepting of risk. In addition, they will spend extra time investigating possibilities, brainstorming new ideas, and helping identify and develop effective ways to influence the decision makers.

As you strategize about how best to close a big deal, be sure that you identify the people involved in the decision. Getting to the champions and enlisting them early on in the process will yield tremendous results. These are the people who will open doors for you, as well as give you the insights you need to effect change.


photo credit: oscarandtara via photopin cc

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