The best salespeople understand the value of relationships in these four areas:
- Decision Maker — the buyer with the ultimate say-so. FYI: Only one exists in every seller/client relationship.
- User influencer — anyone that is impacted by your product or service. FYI: Many user influencers exist in seller/client relationships.
- Technical influencer — anyone that evaluates a proposal on technical merits. FYI: Technical influencers can say NO to a proposal and never YES without the approval of the decision maker.
- Coach influencer — anyone in the client or prospect’s organization that can provide "inside information." FYI: Never underestimate the value of a coach.
Today is a great day to conduct a relationship audit to determine the sphere of influence with key accounts (the 25% of the customer base that represents 75% of revenue). Here's a simple 5 step audit process:
- List all key accounts.
- List the names of people that fit the buyer types listed above (the more the merrier).
- Rate the power of each relationship using a 1 to 5 scale (1=just a name to 5=extremely strong relationship).
- Assign a sphere of influence score to each account based on data from step #3 using this formula: Number of buyer types identified (1 to 4) X total power of relationships (multiply all relationship scores by total known relationships) — subtract 50 points if the name of economic buyer is unknown.
Sphere of Influence Score = (# of BT) X (P of R) – 50 (if NO E buyer known)
- Rank all key accounts by the sphere of influence score, and develop an action plan for each.
Expanding and improving a sphere of influence score may be easier with some key accounts than others. Two options exist at this point:
- Plan to improve the sphere of influence scores.
- Accept the fact that the sphere of influence score for some accounts cannot be changed. Salespeople should be prepared to deal with this unfortunate reality.
Kurt Sima is a VP/Senior Consultant at The Center for Sales Strategy.com