ATD: 4 Strategies for Getting Customer Buy-In





July 16, 2015

by Mark Donnolo, Managing Partner, SalesGlobe

Selling an innovative solution to your customer is powerful. New solutions differentiate you from your competitors and solve the customer’s core challenges—not just surface-level effects. But even after you’ve sold the solution, one large hurdle remains: getting organizational buy-in. Ultimately, the organization has to accept your changes, or the solution will be rejected. Here are some strategies that can help achieve by-in.

Co-Develop the Solution

If you’ve co-developed your solution with the customer, you’ve certainly shared the range of idea components throughout the process. There’s little room for surprise in something they’ve co-developed, so the chance of rejection drops considerably. In the absence of shock value, the customer can evaluate the idea on its own merits instead of being distracted by how different it may be.

Get Buy-In at the Highest Level

Even if you’ve co-developed the solution, your customer probably has a boss. Depending on your industry and sales process, getting final approval can be tenuous and surprising. “If you don’t get that kind of support and buy-in at the highest level, you’re not going to be successful,” says Tracy Tolbert, executive vice president of global sales at Xerox.

“I’ve seen a handful of deals in my career that you think you have the support you need, but when your sponsor takes it up to the top for the final approval (the final signature of the CEO or even the board), it turns out you did not have the support there that you thought you had. And you’ve spent a lot of time and energy. I’ve seen a lot of naive salespeople who think they have the buy-in from the buyer, but the reality is the buyer didn’t have permission to buy. That’s the challenge,” Tolbert explains.

Account for Change Management

Don’t underestimate the toll a potentially large change might have on the decision to implement the solution, advises Tolbert. “The solutions that we provide are typically big and they’re changing the internal workings of an organization. We can show great value, we can show great savings, we can show increased delivery, response times, and all of the things that we measure, and a client can still just say, ‘You know what, we can’t do it.’”

Listen to the End User

At this stage, it’s also important to do customer or end-user testing, to get their perspectives. As you commit to a solution, you have to make sure it will align with what the customer will need.