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Winning Over Stakeholders: A Startup's Guide to Unblocking Sales Deals

A playful deep-dive into overcoming stakeholder objections, keeping your sales deals on track, and fostering fruitful relationships.

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As an entrepreneur, I've had my fair share of wrestling with stakeholder objections. One day, you're shaking hands (or bumping elbows, thanks COVID-19), and the next, you're wondering how your once golden deal got stuck in the mud.

Well, fellow founders, fear not! Let's dive headfirst into the world of stakeholder objections and pull that deal right out of the mire.


Cracking the Code: Stakeholder Objections

Stakeholders are like jigsaw puzzles - each one unique, and just as likely to leave you scratching your head in confusion. A whopping 74% of buyers choose the sales rep who first adds value and insight, according to Corporate Visions. So, it's crucial to understand their perspective and address their concerns early on.

A quick anecdote - I once had a deal with a potential client that was going swimmingly, or so I thought. Suddenly, they went cold, leaving me wondering what went wrong. After some digging, I found out that their CFO, a critical stakeholder I had overlooked, had reservations about the cost. It was a hard lesson on the importance of identifying and engaging all relevant stakeholders.

Building Bridges: The Art of Relationship Management

Winning over stakeholders isn't just about having a great product or service. It's about building relationships, understanding their needs, and providing value that aligns with their goals. Remember, stakeholders are people too, with their own pressures and KPIs to meet.

When I was in the early stages of my second startup, I made it a point to have informal, 'get to know you' chats with key stakeholders. It wasn't always about business. Sometimes we talked about our favorite books, or the latest tech news. Those conversations helped build trust and made future negotiations much smoother.

The Influencer Strategy: Your Secret Weapon

Stakeholders come in all shapes and sizes, from the C-suite to the front-line employees. So, it's essential to have an 'influencer strategy.' These are the people who can sway opinions and decisions within the organization. They might not always be the obvious choices. Think: department leads, long-serving employees, or even the office 'gossipmonger.'

My startup was once courting a medium-sized company, but we were getting pushback from a few decision-makers. I found out that one of the admins, let's call her Sue, had been with the company for over 20 years and was highly respected. So, I made sure to involve Sue in our conversations and demonstrate the value we could bring. Lo and behold, Sue became our biggest advocate, and we sealed the deal!

Communication: The Golden Key

Lastly, don't underestimate the power of clear, consistent communication. Keep stakeholders updated, ask for their input, and be proactive in addressing concerns. Remember, no news is good news, doesn't apply here. Regular check-ins can make all the difference in keeping a deal on track.

So there you have it, fellow entrepreneurs! With these nuggets of wisdom, you're well-equipped to tackle stakeholder objections and keep your sales deals moving smoothly.

Remember, every 'no' or 'maybe' is just a 'yes' waiting for the right context and understanding. Here's to more successful negotiations and ever-growing businesses! After all, stakeholder management isn't just a sales strategy - it's an art form. Happy deal-making!

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