How to turn eager buyers into sales champions

The Dock Team
February 15, 2023
June 11, 2024

You won’t always get to sell directly to the economic buyer, but it’s not a dealbreaker—most buying decisions are made by groups these days.

With buying conversations taking place behind closed doors and not with sales reps, winning sales teams need new ways to stand out when they're not in the room. 

The best way to do that: leverage your buyer champion.

Gartner research shows you're three times more likely to close a deal when you enable your buyer champion with helpful information.

But working with your buyer champion is easier said than done. 

Without your help, they won’t remember all your product's features, functions, and facts. They won’t share all your sales assets internally. And they won’t know how to answer common objections to your product, or know how you line up against competitors.

In this guide, we’ll explain how to build a sales experience that turns sales champions into empowered buyers—putting you on a smoother path to winning more deals.

What is a buyer champion in sales?

A buyer champion, also called a sales champion, is the biggest advocate for your product or service within your prospect’s company. More often than not, they're your primary contact throughout the sales process.

The idea of a buyer champion was popularized by the MEDDIC sales methodology (an acronym that stands for Metrics, Economic buyer, Decision criteria, Decision process, Identify pain, and Champion).

There’s no single archetype for a buyer champion. They might be a power user of your product, a potential admin or manager, or someone in the C-suite. 

However, a great sales champion typically has all of these characteristics:

  • They're enthusiastic about your product
  • They have influence with decision-makers
  • They have something personal to gain from your solution
  • They have buying experience

The partnership between a sales rep and their buyer champion is a two-way street:

  • The champion helps the seller sell: They navigate the inner workings of their company's decision-making processes and educate decision-makers on your product’s benefits versus the competition.
  • The seller helps the champion buy: Sales reps set up their champion for success by equipping them with all the information they need to “win” the internal argument for adopting your product.

Both parties benefit: the champion gets the product they want, and the sales rep closes the deal.

What does a buyer champion actually do?

What does this relationship look like in practice?

Buyer champions have three goals:

  1. Get all the information they can about your product
  2. Feel confident they're making the right choice
  3. Advocate for your product internally

They do this by:

  • Strengthening the case for your product by conducting market research and presenting data that highlights its advantages over competitors
  • Assisting in the evaluation and decision-making process by leading product demonstrations and trials for decision-makers
  • Serving as a liaison between the sales team and internal stakeholders by scheduling regular meetings to keep them updated on the sales process and address any concerns or questions

Buyer champion vs. economic buyer

A buyer champion typically won’t be your primary economic buyer—the financial decision-maker who controls the budget.

Instead, think of your buyer champion as your inside influence—the one who can convince the budget owners to say yes to your product.

For example, if you're selling an employee enablement tool, your champion may be the HR manager who wants to make employee training more efficient, while the economic buyer may be the Chief of Staff who is more interested in the product's ROI.

Why sales teams need buyer champions

Here’s why working effectively with a champion is key to closing deals.

To qualify deals

To quote MEDDICC: “No champion, no deal.” 

Without a strong, qualified champion on the buyer side, you won’t make the sale. 

For example, the prospect may be engaging you to do due diligence on the market when the company is already bought into another tool.

Plus, the B2B buying process has become incredibly complex. For bigger sales, multiple stakeholders are involved, each armed with their own opinions and priorities.

To properly qualify the deal, you’ll need to work with a champion as your sales team’s personal tour guide:

  • To uncover decision makers: The champion shows reps the ins and outs of the prospect company, helping them identify the key decision-makers and provide crucial insight into their specific needs and pain points. This helps the reps tailor their sales materials and presentations to make a more compelling case for the product. 
  • To uncover buying requirements: The champion also navigates the murky waters of the buying process, ensuring no important steps are missed (e.g. a security review). They also help align the rep’s sales pitch and strategy with the prospect company’s buying process.

Without sufficient knowledge of the company’s decision-makers and buying process, you can’t properly qualify the deal.

To win in closed-door conversations

A buyer champion can give your sales team an edge by ensuring your product is a topic of internal buying conversations. 

According to Gartner, buyers only spend 17% of the buying process talking to sales—and that’s split across competitor products. Buyers spend only 5-6% of their buying time with an individual rep.

This limits your sales rep’s opportunity to influence purchasing decisions and magnifies the importance of your champion.

Your buyer champion is the person who cuts through all the noise and backs your product up, influencing your chances of winning the sale. 

For example, the champion can conduct sales training on using your SaaS tool, provide case studies and references from similar companies that have implemented your product, and demonstrate the potential benefits. 

All these efforts aim to enable the buying process by providing decision-makers with valuable insights and information to make an informed choice in your product's favor.

How to tell if you have a strong buyer champion

Just because you have an enthusiastic buyer contact doesn’t mean you have a true sales champion.

Here‘s a quick guide to identifying a champion on the buyer side.

1. Are they enthusiastic? Look for the individual who has taken the lead in evaluating your product. This person may be scheduling meetings, requesting more information, or asking questions.

In product-led growth, this person is most often a power user—someone who already understands the value of your product in their day-to-day operations.

2. Do they have influence? Understand this person's role in the company. What influence do they have within their organization? Are they a respected figure? Do other stakeholders listen to them when you’re in meetings together?

3. Do they have something to gain? Does this person has a personal interest in driving your deal? Have they asked to be kept informed about new developments? Will your tool help them meet their targets or eliminate process bottlenecks?

4. Do they have buying experience? Find out if this person is an experienced buyer who knows the challenges that come with buying software. If they haven't, take this as a sign that they might need extra support to champion your cause.

If you find someone who checks all the boxes, follow the tips in the next section to leverage each other.

5 tips for empowering your buyer champion

How can you turn a champion into a buyer?

To unleash your sales champion’s full potential, you need to arm them with everything they need to close deals even when you're not in the room. 

Here are some actionable strategies to leverage your buyer champion:

1. Curate information to support internal conversations

Provide the buyer champion with buyer enablement resources that help them communicate your product’s value to internal stakeholders and decision-makers. 

Equip them with sales collateral like product guides, brochures, case studies, and data sheets to emphasize your product's benefits and use cases—the more customized to the prospect's specific use case, the better.

Here’s the challenge though: most sales reps share content with their champions via email attachments, Dropbox folders, or as links in a Google Doc.

While this gets the job done, it doesn’t set your champion up for success. Here’s why:

  • Receiving multiple attachments or links puts the burden on your champion to present the information internally
  • Cramming everything into a Google Doc doesn’t provide a premium buying experience
  • It’s hard to forward lots of emails and links to decision-makers
  • It’s easy to lose email attachments over a long sales cycle

Instead of sending messy email attachments, use Dock to create a digital sales room for your buyer champion.

By creating a Dock workspace for your buyer, you can centralize all deal-related information and content in one place. 

Instead of searching for lots of files and links, your champion and their buying team can access everything from a single link.

This removes unnecessary friction for your champion.

Dock workspace consolidates everything in one place for your champion.

2. Map out their internal buying process

By developing a mutual understanding of your buyer’s decision-making process, you can position your solution in a way that checks all their criteria, helping you emerge as the best choice. 

Enlist the buyer champion’s help to gain crucial insights into your prospect's pain points, budget, and decision-making process. 

A good starting point is to ask the following:

  • Who are the key decision-makers?
  • What’s their process for making a decision? 
  • What needs to happen before they sign a deal?
  • What is the typical timeline for a buying decision?
  • Who else in the company will be impacted by the decision?
  • How do the decision-makers and stakeholders decide between proposals?
  • Have they made a decision like this before?

This doesn’t just help you, it also increases your buyer’s chances of getting the product they want.

By understanding your prospect's priorities and aligning your approach and messaging accordingly, you can improve your chances of success. 

For example, if cost savings are a major concern for decision-makers, highlight the cost-saving benefits of your product in your pitch.

Answering these questions also helps you better qualify prospects and focus on more viable opportunities. If a prospect's needs do not align with your product, it's best to disqualify them and invest your time in more promising deals.

3. Work around potential deal roadblocks together 

Make sure your reps flag and prepare the champion for potential deal roadblocks they may encounter during the internal buying process (think: budget constraints, competing priorities, and security assessments).

Arm them with relevant solutions and strategies that will help them address objections effectively, such as:

  • Offering alternative pricing options
  • Sharing references from current clients
  • Highlighting your product’s economic benefits 
  • Providing comparisons against competitor products
  • Sharing security information

This way, even if there’s a setback, your champion will know how to tackle and mitigate objections, increasing their chances of success.

This not only demonstrates your commitment to helping the champion close the deal, but also helps the champion build internal trust with decision-makers by helping them make informed decisions.

For example, a common deal roadblock is the security assessment. Buyers may need you to fill out a security questionnaire, and it may take a while to get those answers. 

Champions may not always see this step coming—which could hold up the deal. You can help them prepare by providing them with a pre-filled security profile in a Dock workspace that gets ahead of any security questions their IT team might have.

Help your champion get ahead of security reviews with Dock's Security Profiles

4. Create mutual action plans

A mutual action plan (MAP) is a sales roadmap to track the necessary actions to achieve mutual success (in this case, closing the deal). 

Think of a MAP as a shared to-do list between your reps and the sales champion to create accountability and track progress.

It's a great way to clarify expectations and set a clear path for your champion.

Here's what to include in your MAP:

  • Clear goals for the sales process, like setting up a product trial or meeting with key decision-makers.
  • Specific milestones to achieve a goal, like scheduling a demo before finalizing the deal.
  • Assigned responsibilities so everyone knows their role in the process.
  • A timeline with deadlines for completing crucial tasks and follow-up activities.

Traditionally, sales reps have used messy spreadsheets and Google Docs to manage this process.  

But Dock’s mutual action plans provide a much smoother buying experience. Dock’s MAPs let you:

  • Improve collaboration by letting both the buyer and seller work through tasks
  • Provide additional sales context by embedding sales presentations and meeting notes around the MAP
  • Provide a premium buying experience that feels nicer than a spreadsheet
  • Track engagement on your MAP to improve deal forecasting

Here's what that looks like in practice:

Splitting MAPs into stages, like "pre-kickoff" and "implementation", makes things even easier for your champion

Your sales champion can also directly comment on anything within the Dock workspace, streamlining communication and making it more convenient for everyone.

Awesome, right?

5. Help them prep for internal meetings

Your champion really wants your solution to win, but you also need to set them up for success for internal conversations.

Train and educate the buyer champion on your product, industry trends, and best practices to give your sales champion the edge in internal buying conversations and meetings.

Here are a few tips to help your champion confidently communicate with decision-makers and stakeholders:

  • Give them a recording of your one-on-one product demo that they can share internally.
  • Train them on your product’s benefits, features, and use cases.
  • Share real-life implementation examples from their industry, such as case studies and customer testimonials.
  • Get them ready for any scenario by role-playing common situations that may arise during a meeting, such as handling objections or addressing concerns.
  • Give them a projection of the estimated ROI of your solution.
  • Build their slide deck for/with them for their internal buying meeting.

These are just a few examples. You can always brainstorm more ways to empower your champion.

Turn your champion into a buyer with Dock

With Dock, your sales team can provide your champion with all the resources and tools they need to effectively communicate your product's value and lead it to victory in internal sales conversations.

“We've actually had customers doing a business case to their CFO, pull up the Dock and just scroll through it,” said Stephen Ruff, Co-Founder of Champify.

Also, Dock's mutual action plans give your champion a clear roadmap of milestones and deadlines to follow, ensuring they're taking the right steps to close the deal.

And with Dock’s engagement analytics, you can see which team members on the buying side are engaging with your workspace, and what content they’re accessing most often.

Dock is free to try for up to five clients, so you can try Dock with your champions today.

The Dock Team