CEB Blogs


Sales & Service

The Path to Finding Mobilizers

It’s the end of the quarter, the stakes are high, and you’re patiently waiting for those forecasted deals to finally come through. You’ve been talking with the same customer who loves your product, and have that gleaming closing call on the books at 5 o’clock on Friday. It’s totally going to come in – and you can’t wait to announce you’ve hit goal.

Then you hang up the phone, and another unique story of why the deal flopped unfolds. Turns out, he didn’t actually have the purchasing authority, or it had to go to procurement, or worse…it went to the board.

The plague of failed customer consensus has struck. In this world, you need to find a different-in-kind customer to build agreement on your behalf. What you need is a Mobilizer.

But this kind of contact can be difficult to find in a sea of seemingly effective stakeholders that want to take your calls, set up follow-up conversations, and then take more conversations without actually moving a deal forward. We call these kinds of contacts Talkers – and despite any level of seniority, you’re not going to want to forecast your deals against recurring meetings that lead your solution into the no-man’s land of indecision.

SEC’s research found that star performing reps use a different-in-kind playbook to build organizational consensus to move deals through the pipeline. While it’s easier to gravitate towards stakeholders that want to have a sales conversation, stars actively identify and activate Mobilizers by detecting very specific cues from whomever they are meeting with.

Like the best poker players, stars don’t just read signals from stakeholders well – they force “tells” to separate Mobilizers from Talkers. These concrete tells reveal whether a contact has the credibility and organizational know-how to drive consensus. Specifically, stars look for four things in a stakeholder:

  1. Healthy Skepticism: A stakeholder who asks challenging, thought-provoking questions indicates they have the internal credibility needed to enable others to act. The key to this tell is presenting disruptive insight in front of the customer – while we know Challengers lead with insight, your best customers will demand evidence and prod at a new idea to pressure-test it’s true credibility.
  2. Interested in the Greater Good: Contacts who speak in terms of the company’s benefit are often looked to as credible sources of advice. On the other hand, those who are only looking for personal gain are often distrusted by others, and not credible carriers of your message.
  3. Communication Style: While not indicative of Mobilizer potential, a contact’s tendency to speak in terms of facts or stories helps determine what type of Mobilizer a contact is and how a sales rep will need to interact with them.
  4. Follow Through: The final test of Mobilizer potential is whether a contact can follow through on promises; proposing next steps helps gauge the ability and commitment of a Mobilizer to build consensus.

Using these distinct tells, you can teach core performers to emulate these behaviors by helping them identify the key tells of Mobilizers. To break down the thought process stars take to identify Mobilizers, CEB Sales built an interactive decision tree that details how to test and read the customer stakeholders you’re targeting.

But after a stakeholder has been qualified, how do the most successful sellers approach each customer stakeholder type? As we know, finding the right stakeholder is only the first step of driving organizational consensus – finding the Mobilizer in an organization doesn’t mean you have a closed deal.

In fact, CEB Sales’ research on star rep behavior revealed that the best sellers treat Go Getters, Skeptics and Teachers quite differently to activate their Mobilizer potential.  After following each step in the decision tree, the tool provides guidance on how to approach each of the 7 stakeholder types once they’ve been identified – including how to use each kind of Talker to garner information that may lead to the true mobilizer.

2 Responses

Leave a Reply



Recommended For You

Wondering Why Training ROI Is Low

Most companies are responding to changes in the selling environment by investing in talent development...