Winning Accounts through Influencing People!

Entrenched B2B suppliers become stronger as they build larger moats around existing customers through inter-dependent services, proprietary standards and deep relationships making it more and more difficult for competitors to seriously gain wallet share. So, how should salespeople accomplish the tough job of adding new customers and break the stranglehold of incumbents? In this blog, we look at one of the keys to New Account addition — #CustomerRelationshipMapping.

The task of acquiring new customers may actually be getting easier thanks to changes in B2B buying.

 First, procurement is de-risking. They are no longer willing to be solo performers in the buying process. An increasing number of SCM heads want their ‘partners in crime’ from user departments, finance and technology to take equal ownership for buying decisions. On an average 5.4 people are now involved in making a formal purchase decision (

 Second, budgets are moving from traditional buying departments to departments that are meant to benefit from the purchase. IT is a great example. The IT department in many companies leads the evaluation and implementation of technology but user departments play a significant role in determining what is bought, how and even from whom.

 Third, #convergence is breaking silos. Take advertising, for example. Traditionally, media buyers allocated portions of the total budget between TV, print and outdoor. Media companies fought within a category for their share of the pie. Now, media houses are present across print, TV, radio, outdoor and digital delivering audience synergies across media.

 So, we have new stakeholders at the buying table with no baggage of supplier affiliation and open to alternatives. Some actually come with simmering discontent and represent a voice for change. However, being open to new vendors does not automatically mean more deals for them. It only means that both the challenger and the incumbent need to strike new relationships.

 Sellers need to navigate the landscape of customer organizations beyond ‘Key Decision

Makers’ and ‘Influencers’. More time with the favourite few doesn’t help and at best delivers small consolation prizes! Big deals require the seller to build support that goes wider and deeper than what seems like a buying process on the surface.

 Most salespeople focus on the middle management layer of buyers. A few, take the ‘Top-down’ route. It can help force a few more conversations at best but doesn’t take the bid very far. Of course, the salesperson doesn’t have to build a relationship with everyone involved directly or indirectly. In the end, you don’t want a great number of friends and no business. One needs to plan and choose relationships that help build consensus across the organization in support of one’s bid. Political undercurrents are critical to such consensus building. Knowledge of informal stakeholder relationships enables salespeople to move deftly without getting caught in the cross-fire.

 #CustomerRelationshipMaps of target organizations are enriched with information about the roles that each individual plays, their orientation towards each vendor, the strength of relationships and the nature of their inter-connectedness. Most CRMs allow you to create customer organization charts from your contact lists. Alternatively, you could use one of the plug-ins or stand-alone tools that allow you to create elaborate and visual Relationship Maps.

 Make your relationship map a critical part of your large account framework and share enriched customer organization charts with key people within your organization. After all, sales is a team sport and everyone has a knock to play!