Selling to Multiple stakeholders: the art of dancing to many drums

After a successful presentation, I felt quite good that my team and I had convinced the management of the organization that our product was the preferred and I was almost sure that we would have a contract in a few weeks. Just as we were about to leave, I was approached by a junior member of the team with his own special request and this would mean that we had to adjust the deliverables to satisfy him.  We could choose to ignore him because he was young, but if we did that, if could make the implementation process difficult for us. This is a typical case of having managing multiple stakeholders in a transaction.

To efficiently manage multiple stakeholders to ensure they don’t jeopardize your transaction, I would like to suggest the following:

  1. Identify who they are: when you approach an organization with the intention to do business, you usually encounter various contact points depending on the type of products or services you are offering. For example if you want to offer a product or become their supplier, you would encounter the procurement or administrative unit. If your offering is specialized i.e. computer software or hardware, you would also have to liaise with the IT department. Once you start dealing with an organization, plot your stakeholder Map from buyer to user to authorizer.


  1. Identify their WIIFM: Everyone has a certain interest or motivation for supporting the purchase and this is known as ‘WIIFM’-What’s in it for me. You need to find out what their motivation and interest is that would make them support the acquisition of your product or the decision to work with you. Some ways to find out is by listening to what they are saying as you present the product to them and asking some probing questions. Some common motivations are:


  • Save cost for the company: Most procurement and finance people are concerned about saving costs and reducing company spend.
  • Increase revenues: if you product or service would help the company make more money, the marketing, sales and management team would be quite interested in working with you.
  • Make them look good: some people are looking for ways to shine and look good in the organization. They want to be seen as the person who brought the new innovation, so they are looking to see if your product or service would help them achieve that.


  1. Arrive at a workable plan to meet their minimum requirements: sometimes the motivations of multiple stakeholders might be opposed to each other. You have to find a way to prioritize the stakeholders in order of importance and look for ways to meet their minimum requirements so that they would not block the acquisition of your products. If one stakeholder is seeking to look good and the other is seeking to save cost, you need to find a way to expatiate your benefits to show each person than his objectives would be achieved no matter how small.

Ultimately, managing multiple stakeholders is attempting to dance to various drums and it would take some advanced selling skills. If you would like to improve your selling skills and learn more about achieving your sales target, I recommend this free audio. Click here to download 5 smart secrets for meeting and exceeding your sales target.

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