Sellers are having to work harder, get more “yeses,” and get more company stakeholders on the same page about ”why you?” and ”why now?” than ever before. And that last part is the hardest aspect of just about any sale.
In B2B sales, getting multiple decision makers on board is a dream. And these days, it’s becoming more and more necessary.
This might sound overwhelming, but it’s doable. It all boils down to your discovery process. Instead of tailoring it to an individual, focus on the entire organization. Focus on how your services can help the organization and each individual department.
There are six key questions you need to consider to get to the core of how your services can help your prospective clients’ businesses. We’ll look at each one, and identify how you can use it to successfully sell to multiple decision makers across departments.
First, though, a bit more about who I am.
Most of my role has been focused around sales for the better half of the past ten years, and in that time, I’ve noticed that more product and service lines are expanding to support multiple departments. And what makes things more complicated is that often there is so much overlap between the teams that even your prospect isn’t sure who needs all to be involved.
Let me give you a real-world example. The company I work for primarily sells to marketing teams. But our content marketing services can impact human resources, customer service, investor relations, sales, and account management as well.
I was talking to a prospective client whose organizational goal was to drive revenue. I asked what KPI the marketing department had set to accomplish that goal. My prospect said the company needed to drive traffic to its website, but they were also focused on a big hiring push and were having trouble attracting qualified candidates.
I stopped her right there. In just that one sentence, she had highlighted two departments outside of marketing that needed to be in on the conversation. They needed to be included so we could talk about the primary goal for the immediate future and determine how my company could provide support on a more holistic level.
6 Questions to Close Cross-Departmental Deals
Now that we know the problem let’s dig into the six questions you need to ask to deal with a situation like this.
What’s the company’s North Star?
To provide the most value to your prospect, you first need to understand the directive from the C-suite. The C-suite cares about organization-wide problems. Unless you position your services as a means to solve the high-level pain points the C-suite cares about most, you probably won’t be prioritized enough to close the deal.
Ask your point of contact what the company’s main objective is. And if he or she doesn’t have that information, ask who you can speak with to gain more visibility into the company’s overall organizational aspirations.
This information will arm you with the information you need to sell to the entire organization, not just one department.
What are the company’s biggest hurdles on the way to that North Star?
Does the company have enough skilled staff in-house to achieve their main goal?
Is the company hesitant to set aside budget for your services because they don’t see how you will help them work toward their North Star?
Do employees understand how to use the tools they have in place effectively?
Ask questions like this to pinpoint what their biggest obstacle is to achieving their goal. This will help you identify your unique service offering so you can help them overcome those hurdles.
Does each department understand how it’s working toward that North Star?
Big company initiatives are great, but you can only reach them through incremental steps. Find out whether the departments within the organization are aligned and working towards their North Star goal. The answer can tell you a lot about what interdepartmental communication is like and whether it’s lacking.
This is great intel into what your working relationship might be like after the company signs on the dotted line.
To find this out, though, you have to ask the tough questions. What specific questions you ask will depend on which departments you’ll most likely work with. But make sure you consider which areas of the business can benefit from your services and ask questions to find out how they tick.
For example, here are some questions I might ask when talking to leads who could benefit from our content marketing services:
Do your sales and marketing teams understand what the other is doing?
Do they understand how they’re creating value for each other?
Does the marketing team understand the sales team’s biggest pain points?
Does the HR department understand how it can leverage the marketing team’s content to attract qualified candidates or train new employees?
What does the internal decision-making process look like?
I’ve communicated with several companies in the past that involved multiple decision makers, and often I didn’t know there were several decision makers until I got deeper into the deal. In fact, according to Gartner, salespeople selling to tech companies usually need a “yes” from seven or eight decision makers before they can close the deal.
Not knowing who these people are and who has ultimate decision-making power makes things that much more difficult. So ask early. Ask questions like…
Who makes the ultimate decision about working with your company.
How many people are involved in the decision-making process.
Whether you can get all these people together at the same time to discuss incorporating your services into their strategy.
By identifying the decision makers and selling straight to the top, you increase your chances massively.
Who’s your mobilizer, and how can he or she help?
Your internal champion — your advocate who has been selling you internally across the company — that’s your mobilizer. Get to know that person, and don’t be afraid to ask how you can help facilitate them and their conversations with decision makers.
For example, we know our content marketing services can help sales enablement as much as marketing. So, if we offer to help an organization’s marketing team drive inbound leads, we try to get sales leaders involved in the conversation. Together we can talk through how they can leverage the content we’d create to nurture marketing-qualified leads and close business faster.
Getting Sales involved in the conversation gains us buy-in from an additional department and makes it more likely the company will sign on with us to see that additional value.
Are you making it easy for your mobilizers to sell your product or service internally?
When selling your services to multiple departments within a company, make life easy on your mobilizer. Otherwise, you probably won’t see a fast sales cycle — or the sale might not close at all.
Equip your mobilizer with all the collateral he or she needs to get buy-in across the organization. Provide blog posts, whitepapers, checklists, and other types of content that showcase the value your services can provide — and make sure you provide content that speaks directly to the individual departments you hope to work with.
To supply the right content, and provide the most value, ask your mobilizer these important questions:
Who are you presenting to internally?
What will they care about?
How bought-in are to us being the solution to your organization’s problem?
What do you think decision makers will need to see in order to give a “yes”?
Can I be in that conversation, so you don’t have to sell our services, and so I can support you with the value proposition we bring to the table?
Offer your company’s expertise to multiple departments and identify areas where you can be helpful. For example, has your company developed an envy-worthy virtual culture? Offer to chat with the HR team to share some of the wisdom you’ve gained through your experience. Even if they’re not directly related to your products or services, these efforts drive deeper connections within multiple departments of your future client’s organization.
Dos and Don’ts
To recap, here are some key do’s and don’ts to keep in mind on your journey to closing more cross-departmental sales:
Don’t try to understand decision makers’ needs separately.
Don’t forget to ask how many internal decision makers there are, who they are, and how you can get them all involved in a conversation at the same time.
Do understand the company’s primary goal and work your way toward more specific departmental efforts to pursue that goal.
Do make sure you understand the hurdles the company has to overcome to achieve their goal and how your product or service helps with that.
Do get to know your mobilizer, and provide that person with the resources and content he or she needs.
It’s really hard to get ten people to say “yes” if you only focus on one department or team’s needs. Focus on the organization as a whole instead.
Identify their North Star, and from there, you can work your way toward more specific ways your product or service can contribute to multiple departments’ pursuits of that goal and close those cross-departmental sales you’re aiming for.
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