Forecast calls the world over follow a fairly uniform structure. Regardless of company size, a CRO gathers her sales leaders and runs them through the standard paces: Calling the numbers; closed/won progress; a fly-over of top deals with an update on the current state of play.
As she turns her attention to the top deals, she expects crisp answers to a key set of questions:
- “What’s the latest update?”
- “Who are we talking to?”
- “Who else do we need to talk to?”
- “What do we know about their selection process?”
- “Who makes the final decision?
- “Are we the preferred vendor?”
- “What’s the next step?”
These questions are distinct, but the heart of each one is the same: How effectively has the team been able to build relationships in the account?
For all the rigor put into deal probabilities, analytics, and forecast accuracy, in-depth understanding of relationship strength and influence remains a blind spot for most organizations. It’s a big blind spot to have.
The reality of today’s highly competitive sales environment and COVID-19 restrictions means that our relationships and connections are our most critical success factor.
Outside of a shortlist of deals in which the CRO is directly involved, she depends on her leaders and team to connect with the right people, navigate internal politics and pitfalls, and understand who has influence beyond—or sometimes regardless of—the literal facts presented in an org. chart.
The Stakes of Smart Relationship-Building Have Never Been Higher
You can’t walk the halls to find power from home.
We aren’t just sheltering in place; we’re selling in place, too. According to McKinsey & Co, more than 90% of selling now happens remotely, eliminating the face-to-face dinners, on-site introductions, and in-person meetings that gave sellers access to key players and decision-makers.
Now, revenue teams need to visualize an organization’s hierarchy digitally in order to build and execute an influence strategy.
A more conservative buying climate means more people at the table.
Industry analyst Gartner notes that the average number of people involved in a B2B buying decision is between six and ten people, and even more players are involved in technology purchasing decisions. The global pandemic has only exacerbated this trend. Most organizations are now buying less and involving more people when they do.
Being able to decode who has influence, how decisions get made, and who is in the inner circle is critical for revenue teams to connect across multiple seniority levels of the organization to narrow their focus and gain access to the people who matter.
Customer perception is everything.
The old saying goes that people buy from people they trust. But building trust from the other side of a Zoom screen is a tall order, and it takes time. It’s important that account teams gather as much information as possible about the people they are selling to with an eye toward clearly understanding what problems they are solving for the customer. To do this well requires getting everyone on the team involved and mapping the relationships and coverage of the people so we can clearly articulate the customer need and why your team is best able to help them solve their problems.
Building trust takes time and investing in relationships across every level of the business to earn the right to speak to the decision-makers. Mapping the revenue team to their peers in the account, and understanding how much coverage you have and how the people you’re interacting with buy is now mandatory.
The new normal has generated a “back to basics” approach in B2B enterprise selling, and the first rule still applies: People buy from people. Building relationships with the people who matter and understanding both what they need and how they buy is critical to sales success.
Try Relationship Map
To help revenue teams address the relationship challenges of B2B selling, we’re offering a free trial of Upland Altify’s Relationship Map, which guides sellers to turn contacts into relationships so they can navigate and win the deals that matter. Built native on the Salesforce platform, Altify Relationship Map installs in minutes and helps your team visualize relationships and act on influence. You can start your free trial and learn more here.
When your sellers know the people who matter and have built the right relationships, you know the deal is good to commit in the forecast. And that’s music to your CRO’s ears.