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Podcast 128: Decision Makers & Champions with Geoff Surkamer
decision makers and champions Geoff Surkamer
By Kelly Driscoll | December 16, 2019

Decision makers and champions are parts of a salesperson’s everyday life. We’re constantly reaching out to talk to decision makers or champions that can help us land that next deal and solve that problem or pain for a customer or client. But how do you spot genuine decision makers and champions? Lots of people are out there and are not actually changing anything or working on what you’re trying to help them achieve. Geoff Surkamer joins us to expose how it’s done…

In This Podcast You’ll Learn:

  • What a Champion Really Is
  • The Path To Purchase
  • Sophisticated vs Unsophisticated Buyers

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What a Champion Really Is

John Barrows: So do you have a definition, uh, or at least a loose definition of what a champion means for you and your organization?

Geoff Surkamer: I would agree with you 100% when you mentioned the differentiation between a champion and a coach. Because the champion is somebody who is fighting for you in that organization. They are the one that has the pain. It could be the pain holder and like you said, they could have budget. They could not have budget. Maybe they don’t have enough budget, but they’re the ones that are saying parading around and waving, the flag for the organization saying, look, I’ve done the homework. They’re the sophisticated buyer.

They’re also infiltrating and getting others within the organization to rally. So good. Good thing is their natural leader within their organization and they’ve been outfitted with all of your selling value and propositions that they can go and start really getting a whole parade of people to follow them.

That’s is a definition of a champion. The coach is the person giving us information, right?
I love that relationship with the coaches. They’re telling us things that, Hey, if you call this person right now or at their office completely wide open on their calendar, go ahead through giving you inside information. Of course, legally of course.

John Barrows: I look at our champions versus the coaches. I look at a coach as usually you’re going to hear from coach great information, right?
As far as like politics and all that other stuff. What you usually hear from them is, Hey, “you didn’t hear it from me but this is what’s going on”. And so it’s thanks for the Intel but now I’ve got to do something. Now what do I do? Right?

Whereas the champion won’t say “but”. A champion will say go talk to so-and-so. You need to convince that IT guy that this is the right solution for you. And if you don’t do that then you and I aren’t going to have a pot to p*ss in here. It’s good to have both coach and champion to keep things realistic.

The Path To Purchase

Geoff Surkamer: There comes a moment when you talk about if they have bought anything like this solution in in the past. You’ll want to find out what the path to that purchase looked like. Because you’d like to learn more. Not about so much your role in the organization, but who do you go to from here? What’s that path to purchase? Is there something, a presentation I can prepare, something you need or that would really help ease things along.

They’ll start filling in the pieces to the puzzle without even really knowing it.
There’s always other people that have to be part of the process. So I would always try to turn that around and say, have you bought something like this? And if it didn’t go well when they did before, where were the areas that I can avoid so we can maybe work better together.

There’s always one that wants to talk to the board about it, that’s the one that always kills me. It’s like, wow we have to go to the board. Those are people that they’re not even an identifying.

Sophisticated vs Unsophisticated Buyers

John Barrows: How do you identify a sophisticated buyer who knows what they want versus someone who’s just browsing?

Geoff Surkamer: I probably oversimplify it. Who owns the problem? What separates the sophisticated versus the unsophisticated is at the organization that you are trying to sell a solution to, who is that one person who is in charge of that one department that affects and feels the most pain? Who is that person? That’s where I start. That’s the most sophisticated person. This is the person that has to wake up every day fix something.

Our sales effectiveness guy is my right hand guy. I mean we don’t go on meetings without each other because he owns that tactical execution and I own the strategic problem and solving that problem. And together we’re pretty much helping each other out.

Who’s sophisticated is defined to me by who owns the problem. On Procurement with all due respect, the problem is not to get the best price. That’s not the value of my solution. We’ll get to that. I promise you Mr or Mrs customer, we will make it fit in your economic parameters, but right now I need to understand because I’m also the first guy that says no, the customers say we’re not a right fit.

The last thing I want or you want is the downstream effect of a problematic customer. And you always rewind and say, I didn’t find the problem owner. I got hooked up on the wrong person and it was one disaster after another.

That’s a wrap. Join us next time

If you made it this far, you’re the best. Thanks for reading and listening to this podcast. We hope you gained a ton from it and will listen in next week too. Don’t forget to check out our recent podcast episode highlights too.

If you have some feedback for us, connect on LinkedIn. And don’t forget to share the podcast on social media.

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