Gone are the days when you make the sale and move on. Today, selling is all about relationship building. You need to know your customer as well as, if not better than, they know themselves. That way, you don’t just give them what they say they need, you actually find other needs and answer questions they never knew they had.

By creating demand, sales organizations can build a more robust pipeline that leads to bigger deals in less time. Here are the seven steps to become a demand creator:

Determine your entry point into the organization. Identify which business unit or functional area you should focus on within an account. To best determine which doors to knock on, consider these four factors:

  • Political connectivity: Identify the change agents within the customer organization who can help you advance your agenda.
  • Business significance: Determine the business unit or functional area that’s most financially or strategically crucial to the company, or attach yourself to initiatives the organization has already defined.
  • Business impact: In which business unit or functional area can the solution you provide make a significant impact?
  • Supplier return: Focus on your own return in addition to the value provided to the customer.

Craft your value message. Form an executive value statement that quantifies the value you provide. For example: Holden research indicates 71 percent of sellers need coaching to identify influential individuals within the customer organization.

Gain access. Use your value message to gain access by providing the right person (someone within the organization, shared connections in social media, shared suppliers and partners) with a reason to meet with you. Here are a few ways to get a meeting with an executive:

  • Engage with individuals you’ve already met.
  • Find someone within the customer organization to sponsor you.
  • Look for shared connections on social media.
  • Leverage your company’s executives.
  • Network with your suppliers and alliance partners.
  • Arrange a meeting at an industry, social, or philanthropic event.
  • Cold call.

Conduct a meeting. It’s essential to bring your audience insights that give the meeting purpose. Set these four objectives when preparing for that meeting:

  • Establish your credibility early in the meeting by using the intelligence you’ve prepared.
  • Demonstrate that you’re able to contribute as a thought leader, suggesting unconventional possibilities to advancing the customer’s business.
  • Initiate a relationship. Talk about what you and your company believe in to establish a cultural fit, or look for a common personal ground where you may have overlapping interests.
  • Gain the executive’s explicit sponsorship and support to work together to further develop your draft value statement. Then form the right set of assumptions that will lead to a sound value proposition.

Build your support base map. A critical mass of support within the customer organization is necessary to create demand. Ideally, you’ll look for the following:

  • An executive sponsor: Your effort will not get off the ground without someone who can push the idea into a proof of concept phase.
  • A financial supporter: This individual is often a part of the finance group within the business unit or at the corporate level. In the absence of funding, you’ll need them to reprioritize finances to fund the unexpected solution.
  • An operational sponsor: Someone who organizationally can create structure around getting your new solution launched and implemented.
  • End-user supporters: People who will use the new solution on a day-to-day basis.

Move upstream. As soon as you’ve achieved results during the proof-of-concept exercise, it’s time to swim upstream, calling on people who have connectivity to more senior people within the customer organization.

Complete the triathlon. The final step in the process — a step that can deliver repeated and increasing results — is what we call “completing the triathlon,” illustrated in the diagram below.

New Behaviors & Skills: Applied Process

Want to keep your sales pipeline filled for the remainder of the year and beyond? Helping your sales team evolve into demand creators will lead to 10 percent higher goal attainment and 15 percent higher win rates.

Now that you’ve seen the winning strategic behavior and habits applied in the seven step process, are you ready to take the path to changing your sales game?