Around the world, the use of the word « lobbies » often sounds pejorative. And yet it is the oldest profession in the world which at the time was called: « pressure groups, evening visitors, chamber of trades ». They have always existed and always tried to approach power. Obviously, the lobbies defend a specific interest. However, they also make it possible to bring an operational vision to policies that are often far removed from technical realities.
1 / Lobbying in the service of a commercial strategy
Badly perceived in several countries, including France where I live, lobbying is nevertheless a tool that every salesperson should master. Be careful, when we talk about commercial lobbying, no one is talking about bribes or corruption. Lobbying, in its Anglo-Saxon conception, takes the form of influencing communication through enormous relational work and perfect knowledge of the people to be targeted.
Here are 4 tips for effectively combining lobbying with your business strategy ;
Clearly Define Your Goals
The first thing to do is therefore to identify the target of your lobbying action. It is not necessarily a question of relying on your usual contact with your client. The latter may not be in the best position to advance your case. On the other hand, it can allow you to fully understand the organization of your future client. You need to know who decides, who is influential, who is friends with whom, who is enemy of whom. Likewise, you need to see bigger than the organization of your customers. And understand the complete ecosystem in which your customers operate, that is to say their suppliers but also their distributors and their customers.
Map the network
Undoubtedly, the lobbyist is a networked woman or man. Which means he has a large address book. But these must be able to be « activated » one day in order to get closer to a third person. Thus, it is important to devote time to bringing these relational networks to life. That is to say, encourage the men and women in your company to participate in external working groups, and of course to exploit social networks.
Finally, a good lobbyist must monitor the companies or public bodies that he wishes to canvass. A watch work that goes through the press and the Internet. He keeps abreast of official information, but especially rumors in order to show his interlocutor that he is following the file. Indeed, one cannot make a prospect believe that one is close to his concerns if one does not know what he is going through (internal reorganization, evolution of technologies in his market, etc.).
Define your lobbyists
Often, this proximity work with customers or prospects is entrusted to senior salespeople, or even top management. Unfortunately, they don’t always have the time or the energy to accomplish these missions, or even to deal with the contacts they make in these clubs? So why not put all of your human resources in, play a lobbying role. To ensure that each of your employees becomes, in turn, the representative of the company, but also the one who will make it possible to collect information or create new projects.
Work on the pitch
Faced with his target, the lobbyist must then adapt to his interlocutor and use appropriate language. Did you learn that your interlocutor came from an engineering school? A technical discourse is therefore possible. On the other hand, if he has followed a more literary training, you risk losing him with ultra-technical information. too often, salespeople hide behind technical arguments or a stereotypical speech that they repeat. However, the path of your interlocutor allows you to find the right arguments to influence and convince him.
In this cmmunication of influence, it is an essential document for the commercial and that the Anglo-Saxons designate under the term of “Position Paper”. It summarizes the essence of your argument. One of the important points of this document, which will be left with the client at the end of the meeting, is that it refutes the arguments of the opposing party. Many companies are afraid to put their feet in the dish by evoking the arguments of their competitors. However, it is essential to know it and address it if we want to counter it. It is not uncommon that, thanks to a good “Position Paper”, the prospect does not even go to your competitors for information. everything is in front of his eyes. not only does this make his job easier, but it also provides him with essential elements to convince his superiors that your proposal is the best. The document must highlight the impact of your solution on its company (gain or loss of jobs, tax gains, impact on suppliers, etc.) or on its customers. In the end, he must influence the decision-making of this prospect.
2/ Adapt your lobbying approach to vision 4.0
Social networks have democratized lobbying formerly reserved for high circles and requiring having inherited a prior network, that is to say « having a long arm » in the French language.
Digital influencer marketing is about relying on the notoriety of experts and personalities to promote a brand or services. To do this, the expert we work with must be a true opinion leader in his field.
The experts in question already have a large committed community (which follows them on social networks or other platforms) and position themselves as prescribers.
His influencers on Linkedin less known than the Kardashians but have important communities for your business.
You can find this type of profile directly on Onalytica. https://onalytica.com/
Beyond communicating with users, highlight your news and your news. The highlighting of this data invites Internet users to want to know more about you. You can also use the Linkedin Pulse function which allows you to create articles and thus generate engagement around you.
3/ Lobbying and human ressources management
Finally, by favoring the human relationship in order to sell, this very clearly means that a good lobbyist cannot and above all should not sell on each visit. Immediate consequence: it is not possible to demand from him the same short-term results as from any salesperson. Its action is only effective in the long term. His remuneration must therefore take into account his actions and not just his sales. Otherwise, he will not want to move in the evening and sometimes at weekends in meeting circles and professional events.
Whether they are business lobbyists or others in your company, it is important to adapt the objectives and even the rewards offered to lobbying actions, in order to encourage activities that often take place outside of normal working hours.
Far from stereotypes which assimilate it to corruption, commercial lobbying essentially aims to influence and create proximity with your interlocutors. Teaching this technique to the members of your company, whether they are in top management positions or in support or operational functions will allow them to adopt a new sales style, a pledge of long-term value creation that will allow you to reach influential people among your customers.