When you’re selling, it’s good to have a friend on the inside, someone who can champion your cause and help you get your sale across the finish line.

But who makes the best champion? Well it’s probably not the person who sings your praises to the skies. Sure sales people naturally gravitate to those in the organization who like them, the folks who talk you up, smooth your path, and encourage you every step of the way. But according to research published in Harvard Business Review, when it comes to the crucial decisions, they might not be there for you. Why? Because “Talkers”, that’s what the researcher call them, tend to put their relationships first, that makes them less likely to take the risk. A risk like say, going to bat for you, when another stakeholder pushes back. In fact, the research show your best champion might be that pointed question-asking skeptically-scowling sour-apple who doesn’t seem to care one cent about you, but only about how you can benefit his organization.

These folks don’t care much about being liked, they care about doing what’s best. Convince them that you’re good for their organization and they put their prestige and their influence on the line for you.

“Talkers” can help you in the early stages of the sale, but they can only take you so far. Once you’re in, start looking for that second champion, one that can help you get to the goal.

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