How relationship maps help you close more deals?

You have to be incredibly cognizant of even lower-level influencers who may sway the decision in any direction. Understanding these relationships and lines of influence in any deal will help identify and win opportunities.
Shankar Ganapathy
Co-Founder, BuyerAssist.io
Oct 3, 2023
3 mins

The world of B2B sales is unforgiving. With increase in the number of decision-makers involved in any purchase, the complexity of making the sale has increased too. You now have to sell and appease multiple decision-makers from different teams. You have to be incredibly cognizant of even lower-level influencers who may sway the decision in any direction. As a sales leader,  how you equip your team to overcome these challenges is what will enable you to win enterprise customers consistently. Understanding these relationships and lines of influence in any deal will help identify and win opportunities.

What is Relationship mapping?

Relationship Mapping is a tool used to represent and analyze the connections and influences among entities within a client's organizational structure in fields such as sales, marketing, and account management to help better understand and manage client relationships.

Relationship mapping tool can be used to identify key stakeholders, decision-makers, and influencers, as well as to understand the dynamics of relationships and communication channels within the organization. Relationship Mapping is commonly used

As a leader, you cannot afford to be oblivious to what is happening at the other end of the bargain. And so, the win decision with consensus, your sellers need to understand internal dynamics, motivation, and critical lines of influence to get the ball rolling on their side of the court.

And this is where tools like relationship maps come in handy.

If you’re part of any deal team, identifying influencers (both supporters and detractors) along with the decision-making team is crucial in winning the deal. Influencers, in many cases, are low to mid-level people who may not be part of the decision-making team. Let me give an example: one of our customers who provides a solution for Level 4 support automation to Fortune 1000 companies realized mid-way through the sales cycle that a low-level dba developer whose role would get redundant is their biggest detractor. Connecting and understanding her priorities, along with making her understand what your solution can do for her career, was essential to win the deal. However, this happened too late, leading to the deal getting pushed by several months.

The best salespeople are good at not just selling the value but also knowing how to uncover the political dynamics in an organization. They know when to go to the top and when to go to the lower-level influencer. They also uncover how decision-making works. Ensuring the extended sales team has a way to learn from this behavior can be crucial to make sure you are winning deals consistently. A well-maintained relationship map can help you tackle problems like this.

Relationships are a no-brainer for your sales success

Here’s why your sales team needs a bulletproof strategy to win relationships to win deals.

  • To manage the complexity of the buying committee

With an increasing number of stakeholders in B2B purchases, each stakeholder brings forth a different perspective and a different pain to solve. Without a structured and intentional snapshot of the relationships, there’s no way a B2B sales team can consistently close enough sales opportunities. This snapshot will give you a granular view of the strength of the relationships, so you strategize your next steps accordingly.

  • Visualizing the Org Structure and lines of influence

In general, your sales reps converse with contacts that:

  • Makes decisions, has authority (Decision-makers)
  • Incur direct or indirect influence in the sales process (Influencers)
  • Primary influencer who can bring all decision-makers together (Mobilizer)
  • Individuals who have no authority or influence (Outsiders)

But there are other ways to understand the buyer roles - for example

  • Buyer role: Economic Buyers, Technical Buyers, End Users, Admins
  • Relationship Strength: Champion, Detractor, Supporter, and Neutral

There are also two ways to visualize relationships:

  • Org charts: Understand who reports to whom and what it means for your deal strategy
  • Lines of influence: Understand which influencer has an influence over the decision-making team. Ex: A low-level operator may have a direct influence on the key decision maker

In 6-7-8 figure deals, you need to engage with 5-15 decision-makers, several more influencers, and outsiders. How well you uncover key stakeholders and their priorities, develop a multithreading strategy and drive execution discipline with the deal team is crucial to winning any deal in a committed timeline. Relationships maps offer you one of the most effective ways to do that.

  • Uncover hidden relationships to derisk deals

A good salesperson strives to keep buyers happy. However, a great salesperson will be able to have uncomfortable conversations with the buyers and help them achieve business goals faster and more predictably.

Going back to the example of the low-level dba developer, if your seller knows the relationship mapping playbook, he would know finding and winning the trust of this influencer is key to derisking the deal and would be in that pursuit from day 1.

Mapping relationships is just the tip of the iceberg

Given buying committees inundating priorities, your sales team needs to be proactive communicators. Check-ins on a frequent cadence with each account and key stakeholders allow the discovery of new information or changes that may add value to your existing services or upcoming products. This may include check-ins with pre-sales engineers, key account managers, or any support executive to add value to your relationships. However, this is just the beginning.

Here’s what you should be proactively doing after you chart out your relationship map:

  • Planning your account strategy

When you’re working in an enterprise account and dealing with multiple decision-makers and influencers, creating consensus is an uphill battle. If you’re treading forward with account-based marketing or sales, it is imperative to have a clear view of key people driving the decision, how to understand them and reach out to them better. And organization charts can help you visualize that strategy.

  • Review on a regular Cadence

Once you identify the opportunity and as the spearheader of the process and the owner of the map, updating your relationship map is non-negotiable. The best practice is to update the plan on a monthly or quarterly cadence to ensure it holds credibility and helps your team strategize their next steps better.

  • Accessibility

Every member of your team (sales or non-sales) involved in the deal, behold critical information on your POC, buyer’s preference, need gaps, and purchasing dynamics. With the increasing complexity of buyer’s purchases, even the silliest of information gaps can lead to churn. As a salesperson, this is nothing less than a nightmare at elm street!  And so, once you update your map with the latest information, make sure the map is accessible to everyone on your side of the team to avoid last-minute escalations.

Process to Create a Relationship Map

Creating a relationship map is a simple process if you understand the company's organization chart. In other words, if you understand the lines of responsibilities throughout the hierarchy. For instance, your POC may help you proceed with the deal further, but if he’s not a member of the core buying committee, there’s not much he can do when closing the deal. And so, it becomes a pre-requisite that you understand who beholds the decision-making power.

Step 1- Understanding the decision-making dynamics of the committee

Company
Mobilizer They have the power to mobilize the buying team.
Decision Maker They decide to buy anything or buy from you
Influencer They are not direct beneficiaries but are part of the decision-making process

Step 2- Identifying the disposition of the stakeholders so you can custom create sales strategy proactively and avoid last-minute surprises

Relationship Strength
Champion They put their hand on the table for you and sell for you when you're not in the room. They also have a strong voice within the buying organization
Detractor They do not want you to win and are, in most cases vouching for your competition. Knowing the intensity of their detraction is critical to neutralize their impact on the buying decision
Coach They give you all the information you need but lack the sway in the buying decision. They are good people to validate what you hear from your champion
Neutral They are indifferent to you - may the best vendor win

Step 3- Now that you’ve recognized your potential champion or gatekeeper, the next step is to understand their degree of influence in the decision making

Buying Roles Description
Business User The end users of your product. Typically involved in the pilot, closed room workshop, etc.
Economic Buyer Has budget
Beneficiary Objectives are impacted by your product; managers/leaders; Can also be the Economic Buyer
Evaluator They evaluate your product. They may end up being the admins or owners of your product or services
Technical Buyer They assess fit for IT, corporate governance, and purchasing rules.
Legal Buyer They assess fit for Legal partnership
Procurement Buyer They assess commercial fit and, in some cases, are the front end of the legal team
Unknown Typically used when you have identified a stakeholder but don't know their role yet.

Step 4- Analysing the current strength of your relationship with the core members and influencers of the buying committee

Sentiment Description
Negative If they dislike your solution
Positive If they like your solution
Neutral If they are indifferent to you and your competition
Unknown If you don't know their sentiment

If you don't know their sentiment

Reviewing the customer relationship map, the buyer’s role, their influence sentiment, and relationship strength can give you an understanding of the current state. Furthermore, it gives you clarity on creating your next steps execution activities, so the deal’s progress is mapped and tracked.

Top Benefits of Relationship Maps :

BuyerAssist relationship maps is a Salesforce.com plug-in that makes it easy to visualize the buyer org structure, hierarchies, power, and influence to identify decision-makers, influencers, and economic buyers within the opportunity or account.

  1. Derisking deals and accounts through a clear view of buyer political dynamics:
    Mitigate risk by identifying potential roadblocks and opportunities in the buyer's decision-making process
  2. Coach sellers with buyer-specific insights to drive deal wins:
    Provide sellers with personalized information to build rapport and trust with buyers, ultimately leading to more successful deals.
  3. Creating relationships maps within CRM to maintain data hygiene:
    Ensure that data is accurate and up-to-date, providing a better understanding of customer relationships and allowing for more effective targeting and communication.
  4. Collaborate in real-time with anyone in the team inside Salesforce.com or outside:
    Improve team collaboration and communication, leading to greater efficiency and better decision-making.
  5. Flexible to your sales methodology (MEDDIC, Value Selling, Challenger, etc.):
    Adapt to various sales methodologies, enabling a more tailored and effective approach to the sales process.

Best Relationship Mapping tool

Buyerassist is a powerful relationship mapping tool that helps businesses to visualize and manage their relationships with customers, prospects, and partners. The tool provides a comprehensive view of all interactions and touchpoints with each individual, allowing businesses to identify opportunities for growth and potential roadblocks. With Buyerassist, businesses can track communication history, key contacts, and important milestones, and map out a clear path to successful customer relationships. The tool's intuitive interface makes it easy to use, and its advanced analytics features provide valuable insights that help businesses make better decisions.

What Now?

With more stakeholders involved in B2B buying, the selling will only get more complex. Your selling team needs a consistent model that helps them review, collaborate and strengthen relationships cross-functionally to maximize the effectiveness of their sales motion.  And to win over the modern buying committee, you must understand their current needs, motivations, and inter-relational dynamics and use the insight of nimble tools like relationship maps to win more deals.

If your relationship mapping process is ad-hoc, you are putting your ‘commit’ at risk. Feel free to take a look at our solution datasheet and let us know if you are interested in learning more.

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