About Roles

About Roles

There are four roles that you can assign to Strategic Players and Selling Organization Team members:

  • Sponsor
  • Anti-Sponsor
  • Strategic Coach
  • Key Player


Three key components are necessary to identify the sponsors for your business relationship: authority, influence and support.


Sponsors must exercise some degree of authority over that portion of the Large Account that you've chosen as your Field of Play.  In essence they must be essential to making those decisions that will move your relationship forward.  Regardless of where you find your Sponsors and at what level within your organization and the Account, it is their word, directly or indirectly that makes things happen.


Sponsors have influence and credibility with other key players. If you have a Sponsor that can personally vote your relationship up or down the Buy-Sell Hierarchy, but that person has no support or only grudging support, from other interested parties in the Large Account, you don't really have a reliable Sponsor.  A Sponsor must be able to get other people behind your presence in the account, so that it enjoyed at the broad-based support that a relationship requires.


Sponsors support your presence in their account.  A sponsor must want to exercise his/her influence.  He/she must be a strong supporter of your tenancy in the Large Account.  Sponsors must see their own self-interest served by development of a relationship between the firm and yours.  By definition sponsors want you in there, not just for a given project, but over the long term.


An Anti-Sponsor is generally a credible person within the organization like a Strategic Coach or Sponsor.  However, one major difference is that this individual is working against you and has the authority to exert influence on  how the account and its key players are thinking.  By definition, an Sponsor is someone within the Large Account Organization that wants you out or someone or something else in.  Therefore, the role of the Anti-Sponsor is to negate your efforts to improve your position within the Account.  Reasons for Anti-Sponsors could include, internal politics or difference in business philosophy for example, however, whatever the reasons, as the Strategic Coach sees you being closely tied into the account as a "Win", the Sponsor sees you wants to see you Lose.

Strategic Coach

Strategic Coaches have a wider role in that they have impact on your work account-wide.  For a Strategic Coach to be considered, the individual must meet three areas of criteria: creditability, support and insight.


Credibility pertains to someone who has major influence and who is often the actual decision-making authority in the Large Account and sometimes even beyond your chosen Field of Play.  Good Strategic Coaches must have high credibility with senior management and be respected at all levels of the company's hierarchy, without that credibility they could never get the coaching data that you need.


Determine if the Strategic Coach is ready, willing and able to actively support your efforts in the Large Account. This individual sees a personal "Win" in promoting your tenancy in the  Large Account. Strategic Coaches must be able to give advice and guidance on the relationship as a who and must want you in the account for the long term.


In this area, a Strategic Coach is able to support your long-term tenancy because they can provide you the kind of insight that only insiders know.  Individuals in this role are often upper-management in the Large Account.  They know at a high level what Trends are keeping the Strategic Players awake at night and whit is driving the business.  In addition, on an operational level, Strategic Coaches, know how the organization sets its budgets, allocates its resources, and makes significant purchasing decisions, which is information that can be critical to you in setting a good LAMP Strategy.

Key Player

After identifying the three major roles within an account and or own team, the final direct or indirect role is a Key Player.  Even though such individuals may not exist in every relationship-building scenario, their presence is common, sometimes hidden, and potentially deadly to ignore.  In order to identify additional Key players ask yourself the following:

      • Is there anyone else, wither within the Large Account or outside, who might impact the way this Field of Play makes decisions? For example, outside contractors, consultants or analysts.

      • Who else might have a high degree of authority, credibility, or influence with the Strategic players in the Field of Play?            For example, people who have been important in previous transactions, even though they do not seem to be central now.  

  • Are there any industry "gurus" or internal experts on technology, legal issues, or employee relations that should be considered?

  • Are there any critical touch points in the Field of Play that are not represented in the other roles?

  • Do we have a gut feeling that a given individual is important, even though we're unable to define exactly how?

© 2016 Miller Heiman Group. All rights reserved.