Ever hear, “It’s not about what you know – it’s who you know”?
When selling into key accounts tied to large opportunities, that saying carries a lot of truth – relationships are everything.
The faster you can reach and influence decision makers or key stakeholders, the faster you’ll turn opportunities into deals.
But times have changed. You can’t just reach one or two key stakeholders anymore. Gartner research suggests that the typical opportunity will involve six to 10 decision makers. Throw in the fact that you have to not only identify who’s who, but also reach them across remote and distributed teams, and the challenge is clear.
Fortunately, Salesforce and the right key account management platform can make finding and reaching the key stakeholders easier than you think.
Here are five strategies top B2B sales teams use to find buying groups, connect with customers, and drive purchasing decisions into deals.
1. Align Buyer Personas to Sales Goals
We’ll be honest: at PROLIFIQ, we don’t like the phrase “account planning.” Why? Because no one likes to do account planning. However, strategic account planning is crucial for success.
Strategic account planning is an important part of revenue optimization, because that’s what the ultimate goal is – find the fastest, most efficient way to the highest revenue possible within a key account.
But the need for connecting goals to buyers is the same. You can’t sell as much if you’re not finding the buyers most likely to do business with you.
Take your sales strategy and use it to create buyer personas that fit the product or service you offer within your target accounts. These can include industry, title, level of seniority, function, department, and other demographics. They can also include psychographic details like needs, desires, goals, pain points, place in the pecking order, and so on.
Then, you can start drawing roadmaps from your sales goals to these specific people.
But make no mistake: strategies have to be built around a clear connection between the best opportunities and the best people to contact.
B2B sales teams that ignore this step or assume that all key stakeholders are approachable in the same way are flirting with the bad side of luck.
2. Figure Out Who’s Who: Identifying Supporters, Champions, Blockers, and More
Decision makers in the B2B sales process tend to be grouped into what you can call buying groups. Think of these groups less as organized, formal units and more as a collaboration of people within a company who all have something to do with your specific opportunity.
So, when you’re looking to find the key stakeholders in a company, you’re usually looking for more than one person. While there may be one final stakeholder who makes the ultimate decision, many others will weigh in along the way.
If you have enough decisions going against you, your deal may be dead in the water.
A typical team of B2B buyers has most, if not all, of the following roles:
- Gatekeepers: Control access to the rest of the team
- Blockers: Get in the way of the selling process by either offering little to no assistance or providing negative feedback to others
- Supporters: Help you bring in other team members and navigate the org chart
- Champions: Provide the strongest and most active voice for you/your solution to other stakeholders
- Decision Makers: Give the final go/no go for a deal
As you have conversations with people, you’ll learn which roles they fall into and who you should talk to next.
You’ll also learn how much influence a stakeholder has in the process. Influence matters. While everyone has some kind of influence, the more people of higher influence you reach and sway, the more you’ll win.
3. Chart Your Course Through the Organization With a Relationship Map
It’s not enough to know who is filling these roles. You also have to understand how people within a company relate to each other.
Who reports to who? Which people work on the same projects with others? Who can you ask for help connecting with another contact?
Knowing these relationships beyond a mere hierarchy is crucial if you’re going to find the right people.
Why? If you encounter a blocker, you either need to go around them or find someone who can help turn the blocker into a supporter.
And if you don’t know who your key stakeholder is, you can figure out which prospects can answer questions and help identify that final authority.
In the old days, to work a major account, sales reps would literally draw org charts with pen and paper that would soon be covered by almost indecipherable chicken scratch.
A relationship map’s job is to bring a static org chart to life. It highlights dynamic relationships that you can update quickly and easily as you learn more about an account. It also gives you a picture of where your blockers, supporters, champions, and key stakeholders are, not just within the company, but in relation to each other.
The best relationship maps are native to Salesforce, because instead of having to deal with costly and troublesome integrations into Salesforce, you can use apps that are built within Salesforce itself on the Lightning platform. Not having to worry about integrations ensures a smoother and more efficient sales tool.
With the right tool, you can fill in contact info as you get it. You then simply drag and drop the contact from Salesforce right into your native app. Relationships will update dynamically and a clear picture will emerge.
Once you’ve mapped out relationships, you can get a better idea of who your final buyer is and the best way to get to them. You’ll be able to gather intelligence about how the company works, ask questions to find the decision maker, and learn not only who to talk to, but what to say.
The best way to sell, after all, is to figure out how someone wants to be sold. You may not be in front of the key stakeholder at the beginning. However, you can talk to plenty of people who know what the key stakeholders want and need to hear.
4. Use Connections to Move Up the Chain
Knowing how to work relationships is essential. The best B2B sales teams, though, understand one very important thing: influencing people is all about trust.
As you load data into Salesforce, you’ll not only realize who your decision maker trusts within the company, but also who they trust outside of it.
You can’t just ask someone, “Psst, hey…do you trust Jack?” But, you can find credible connections between people and ways to use them.
For example, you may find that three prospects within the account are all members of a professional organization. You may find someone outside of the account who is in an alumni group with a blocker, or champion, or key stakeholder. You may discover that two people are related, or their kids play soccer together. The possibilities are endless.
Each of these connections is a potential line of trust or credibility you can follow. This will get you from person A to person B – and then B to C, and so on, until you contact enough people to make your way to the top.
If sales reps can find a way to connect with someone that the decision maker trusts or relies on – even someone in the C-suite on a huge account, they are skipping several steps ahead of reps who aren’t making these connections.
In today’s world, most deals are reaching the highest positions in a company in some way. Sooner or later, you’ll have to find a way to connect up the chain to the very top no matter what you’re selling.
5. Build Your Case From the Ground Level Up
As you move from contact to contact, you’re going to gather plenty of information to log into Salesforce. Your goal is to use that information to build a case, much like a prosecutor does when preparing for a trial in court.
One big mistake sales reps make all the time in the buying process is assuming that all you need to do is take your typical sales case and just tweak it here and there for the decision makers. Besides, all companies and all buyers are the same, right?
What you have now may be good enough to get in the door, but if you want to increase your win rate, you must make it better using what you learn. If you can’t convince the buying group that your solution is uniquely tailored to their needs, you won’t win.
And if you can’t tailor your approach to each person based on what you learned from the previous conversations, you won’t move forward.
Your goal is to talk to prospects in the account. This even includes the ones that don’t have decision-making authority. You will present all the information you’ve gathered in a way that resonates powerfully with the final group.
Salesforce makes it easy to start near the bottom of a company and work your way up. Each bit of info you get from the lower levels makes it easier to get to the next level. Information leads to access.
Plus, few things are more powerful in a pitch to an exec than to bring up a specific problem a lower-level tech had that your product solves, or mention a complaint you heard from their customers.
Building your case from the ground up is one of the strongest sales strategies in existence. Yet, often only the top sales teams actually use it. This approach isn’t elite, but incorporating it into your sales process is a surefire way to get ahead.
Finding Decision Makers in Any Business
Selling into a major account is hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it. The reality is this: of all the products or services pitched to a business each year, only a fraction will turn into deals. You can increase your odds dramatically if you apply these tips to your B2B sales process. Use Salesforce and a native app like PROLIFIQ RELATIONSHIP MAP to find the most important people in any company: those who can give you that magical “Yes!”.