What Is Relationship Mapping and How Should Sales Teams Be Using It?

What Is Relationship Mapping and How Should Sales Teams Be Using It?

Relationship mapping is a key skill that any business to business (B2B) sales executive should have. Every B2B sales deal is complex and involves multiple key stakeholders. Mapping key relationships to executives, decision-makers and influential partners can help a salesperson be more strategic in how they approach the deal. It can also help senior leaders get a better understanding of the deal and provides them with actionable data for coaching.

What is Relationship Mapping?

Relationship mapping is a visualization of relationships and all the key stakeholders within an organization. Additionally, it is a way to see and keep track of the business relationships that your company has built over time with a prospective customer or existing client.

Why Use Relationship Mapping?

The average B2B purchase is getting more complex. You need to go the extra mile to consistently win new clients.

CEB reported in 2016 that “Much of that buying challenge arises from the rapidly growing number of customer stakeholders now involved in the purchase decision (which has risen from 5.4 stakeholders in 2014 to 6.8 in 2016) as each of those stakeholders comes to the table with different, often competing, objectives, metrics and priorities.”

Client relationships are therefore more important than ever. Individual relationships between executives in your company and high-level decision makers at your prospect’s company can help cut through the chaos that occurs when business decisions are debated by a buying committee of end users, senior leaders, and technical evaluators.

Methods of Relationship Mapping

Relationship mapping tools can include whiteboards, CRM systems, and dedicated software products. Many sales methodologies include relationship mapping tools that define the key elements of the deal and the key players within the buying committee – the decision maker, influencer, technical decision maker, user, economic influencer etc.

Because CRM adoption can be quite low in many organizations, it’s important to start simple when it comes to relationship mapping. Demonstrating the best practices of building a relationship map on a whiteboard can be a more useful exercise than trying to implement a CRM solution immediately.

Modern relationship mapping is unique to each organization. It should reflect the buying process of your customer. For example, you may know from past experience that the Financial Services or Professional Services organizations you target have strong, centralized IT teams that make all purchase decisions. The technology companies you sell to may have delegated decision making and budgeting to other departments.

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B2B Relationship mapping should start with the following:

  • Identification of the final decision maker and all key stakeholders
  • Any knowledge of internal alliances at your prospect’s company
  • Mapping of executive level relationships between both companies
  • Color coding of various relationship types and relative relationship strength
  • Labeling of each stakeholder role and seniority
  • Background notes on previous interactions and conversations

Barriers to Effective Relationship Mapping

CRM automation tools can help you piece some of this information together, but it often requires a lot of manual data entry to get it right. Tools like Datahug, that can unearth relationships automatically, provide a way to do this without sending emails to your organization asking for relationship insights and timely updates. In addition, they can weed out weak relationships that you find on social or professional networks but are no help in the business world.

Once in place, relationship mapping can help you have constructive conversations about where you are in your sales process, and what additional bases need to be covered. Managers and executives can be more confident that the deals they are forecasting to close are actually on track. In addition, relationship mapping can be used to educate new salespeople on the sheer complexity of the deals they will be working. It helps them understand that they need to engage higher and build stronger senior-level relationships if they are going to be successful and progress in their careers.

Relationship Mapping for Account Management

Relationship mapping works just as well for Account Managers as it does for Customer Success teams. Your client representative may think that a customer measures success purely on the adoption of the product or service that you deliver. But it’s best not to forget the human element. Relationship mapping insights can be extremely valuable if the original decision maker moves to a new company. It creates a risky situation at your existing customer – you will be glad if your team has fostered and kept track of additional relationships after the sale. It also creates a new opportunity for another client win if you have nurtured the relationship and they are willing to bring you into their next company.

Relationship Mapping for Business Development

Finally, business development teams can use relationship mapping for all sorts of activities from sourcing and managing partners, to creating new opportunities for the sales team. Timely insights generated from relationship mapping can reveal a key relationship that opens the door to a new opportunity, reducing the need to cold call into every prospect.

The Takeaway

Relationship mapping is an effective way to manage the deals that are in your pipeline and also a way to generate more new pipeline. Most of all, it helps educate your team on the complexity of the deals that they are working on and shows them the value of building and nurturing important relationships throughout their careers.

While CRM adoption may be a barrier to success in your organization, many firms are turning to tools like Datahug to automatically identify their most valuable relationships and put them to work for the benefit of the entire company.

Are you looking for a way to increase account penetration at enterprise companies, reduce deal slippage, and simply close more deals? Schedule a demo of a Datahug platform and call your CFO to let them know that next quarter is going to be the turning point for your sales team.