Account Planning

How to Find Key Decision-Makers Inside Your Target Accounts Using Salesforce

Posted On
April 21, 2021
Resource Type
Account Planning

In The Godfather, there’s a famous scene where a father seeking justice for his daughter comes to Don Corleone, the awe-inspiring Mafia patriarch, asking for a favor – and doing so on the Don’s daughter’s wedding day.

His favor is granted, because in the movie, a Sicilian Mob boss can’t refuse a request at a wedding. 

Imagine if all you had to do to land a record-breaking deal with a major account is to crash a wedding. How easy would sales be then?

While we don’t recommend approaching decision-makers or Mafia bosses at a wedding, we do understand just how important finding the right decision-maker is to the success of a deal. 

But for a typical deal – especially the more lucrative opportunities – there usually isn’t a Don Corleone to find: one Godfather who has all the authority and power to say yes or no. In fact, you’ll usually have to talk to as many as seven to eight decision-makers before a deal is closed.

This means you have to find them. Fortunately, you don’t have to search for wedding registries. You can use Salesforce, the industry’s leading CRM, and with an additional tool or two, you can find the big-time stakeholders who have to be in on a deal for it to succeed.

Know the Roles and Personas

The first question you have to answer is this: who, exactly, is a decision maker?

You can’t always rely on job titles or even job functions. A key contact in a company can fulfill any number of roles and functions. They can have any number of job titles – and the ones you think are the most important may be misleading. They can also have different levels of influence, and influence matters.

You can look for a decision-maker at the intersection of three related but distinct concepts that may be familiar if you’ve ever created customer profiles as a part of your sales process.

1. Job responsibilities: What are their key duties? What falls within their area of responsibility? What are they accountable for?

2. Seniority: How long have they been with the company? How much experience overall do they have? How high up do they sit in the hierarchy?

3. Influence level: How many direct reports do they have? Do people outside of the person’s direct line consult with or defer to this person? Do they have any kind of budgetary authority on purchasing decisions?

Beyond Job Title: How to Find the Decision Maker

When finding DMs, just searching by job title won’t cut it. You need to find the people at the intersection of these three key characteristics.

This helps you look at buyers from what they actually do versus the surface-level info that usually populates contact lists. Job titles can be informative, but they can also be completely inadequate.

If you haven’t by now, start creating buyer personas for your target account based on what you know. These can be updated as you dig deeper into the company through the process.

When looking for the key stakeholders in an account, we recommend looking for the three P’s that they’re in charge of: People – Products – Processes. This will shed light on your ideal customer profile.

In Salesforce, you can use Contact Roles to help highlight these connections. Then, with each customer interaction, you can update the roles accordingly, or create custom roles that better fit your strategy (i.e. sorting by influencers, blockers, and champions instead of surface-level criteria).

Look for Common Connections

In sales, relationships are everything. The best way to discover the key people in your target accounts is to get to know who they know.

Looking for common connections is a simple yet powerful approach that a lot of sales reps just don’t use. You can’t reach Don Corleone unless you know somebody who knows somebody. When dealing with a major target company, it’s probably easier to see the Don than the CEO.

You can import your connections from LinkedIn Sales Navigator to Salesforce and “see the somebody” you need to talk to. This will make it easier for you to move closer to their inner circle. You can also import contact lists you’ve gathered over the years and see if any common links emerge.

After all, Salesforce is a customer relationship management platform, and it wouldn’t be much of one if relationships weren’t essential. 

But what if the core Salesforce platform can’t provide the kind of deeper insight you need, and illustrate customer relationships in a way that makes sense?

That’s where relationship mapping comes in.

Use Relationship Mapping to Bring the Org Chart to Life

Put simply, relationship mapping is drawing connections between people and power.

Do you remember those three key characteristics for a decision maker that we shared? With relationship mapping, you’re organizing them and updating these links dynamically as you learn more about the company and its buying process.

It’s kind of like what an organized crime unit would do to take down the Don (in the movie, though, the Corleone family had more to fear from their fellow gangsters). You can probably imagine a dark-lit room filled with cigarette smoke and a cork board covered in notes, pictures, and a maze of red string and thumbtacks. 

But in this day and age, you don’t need the corkboard or the room with poor ventilation. Your CRM can handle it and help automate the process if you have the right tools.

Unfortunately, Salesforce doesn’t have a core relationship mapping function built into the software. However, you can find native relationship mapping apps that live in Salesforce. Just plug one in, drag and drop contact information into the app, and let it help you illuminate those magical connections that make deals happen.

(You can get a comprehensive, but simple to use, checklist for relationship mapping by clicking this link.)

In an account-based selling strategy, finding decision makers – the people with the power – is crucial. You can save a lot of time and frustration by using Salesforce and a relationship mapping app. Together they’ll allow you to dig deeper into the buying process and uncover the key decision-makers in your target accounts.

If that doesn’t work, you could always try going to a wedding – but if you do, beware of offers you can’t refuse.

Posted On
April 21, 2021
Resource Type
Account Planning