Account Mapping: Why You Need to Chart Prospect Companies

You see a huge conversion opportunity in a prospect. You lead the conversation on the sales call and convince your account contact. You’re elated. However, the next day, your prospect gives you a “no.” Ouch. What went wrong?

In today’s complex buying environment, relying on one executive to single-handedly close the deal is ineffective. A survey of 5000 stakeholders by CEB found that, on average, 5.4 people now sign off on each purchase.

You can’t keep jumping on one sales call after another to hear a straight “yes,” or else you will leave a lot of value on the table.

The more brilliant strategy is connecting with your customers on a deeper level, identifying the decision-makers, and creating a consensus. A useful way to do this on a practical level is by mapping the accounts and depicting the relationships at your prospective company visually.

In this article, you’ll learn how to chart external companies. It will help you better understand your prospects, personalize last-minute sales calls, and close more business. Note that we’re not talking about structuring your sales team and building a sales org chart.

What is Account Mapping?

Account mapping is the process of visually representing the data points and the relationship dynamics at a prospect company. It’s used by sales professionals to get an overview of how an organization functions and identify the key decision-makers.

In contrast to a typical org chart, an account map also considers informal hierarchies to arrive at the “best path of sale.”

flowchart of an account map showing how the process works.

Even if the leads handed over to your sales team are marginally qualified, the chart lets you expand your network and get your foot in the door.

Unlike scattered CRM data, a well-constructed account map provides a holistic view of your prospects and customers. By knowing who calls the shots and controls budgets, you can foster professional relationships with the stakeholders that matter. You can also refer to the maps throughout the sales cycle to get a sense of your progress.

Still not convinced that relationship mapping is a game-changing addition to your sales team?

Wait until the end of the next section.

5 Reasons to Start Charting External Companies for Sales

For sales reps selling complex enterprise solutions, an account map is a terrific way to fill the data gaps in your CRM and other sales tools. Here are the key ways this chart can help you take charge during long sales cycles.

1. It Shows Prospects You Genuinely Care

Eighty-five percent of prospects and customers are dissatisfied with their on-the-phone experience. So, are the sales teams not putting in the required effort?

Well, if your team is aggressively prospecting several companies, then you have less time to understand each one. Using a generic pitch makes it difficult to earn the trust of stakeholders.

Most sales reps default to scanning websites and marketing collaterals to learn about their prospects. Indeed, 42 percent of sales reps feel they don’t have enough information before making a call.

An account map is handy here to get an insight into a prospective company, its customers, and its problems. It introduces you to the key managers and relevant details about them that help you stand out from the pack of generic sales calls.

2. Easier to Identify Key Decision-Makers at Your Prospect Company

How often have you rocked a sales call yet couldn’t close the deal? Probably, the primary decision-maker didn’t see how your product could help the company achieve its goals. In such cases, you don’t need to drop off the account.

What if your product becomes a great fit for the prospective company after a year? It’s also possible that the company contact (who liked your product) gets promoted and can now influence business decisions.

In such cases, an updated account map showing the business centers of your prospective organization is helpful. You can use the intel to build strategic rapport with the blockers, influencers, and buyers and keep up with existing contacts.

Also, during future sales calls, the map makes it easy to refer to an old relationship if necessary.

3. You’re at Risk with a Single Company Contact

In most companies, a single professional manages the complete sales process. But what happens if this contract departs from your target company? You might need to rebuild goodwill with the customer.

I myself learned this lesson painfully when my key champion at Oracle moved to another company, and a deal I've been working on for nine months evaporated.

Consequently, it’s wise to expand your network and create fallback options. Account maps detail the internal dynamics and can facilitate touching base with multiple people.

When trying to sell complex solutions, multiple contacts participate in the final buying decision anyway. So it makes sense to initiate more than one relationship to better understand the company's needs.

Once you group the data from all the contacts that belong to a lead, you have additional context that can prove pivotal in closing the deal. If you have stored your lead data in Close, it lets you group contacts and addresses belonging to the same lead.

Here’s what the result looks like:


4. You can Personalize Your Pitch (Even When Upselling...)

Do you frequently get on last-minute sales calls? Then, knowing your prospect's internal structure is invaluable. You can personalize your pitch based on the company’s needs, pain points, and where they have planned to invest their resources.

Suppose you sell an analytics product and get an inbound lead from the CTA on your product’s FAQ page. Having an account map will help you identify where your prospect lacks resources.

The information is useful for sharpening your sales pitch. If there’s a dearth of data analyst talent, you can discuss how your offering can derive actionable insights from their data to improve performance.

Do you have an existing account with a company and see cross-selling and upselling opportunities? That’s a great opportunity, as selling to an existing customer is easier than targeting new prospects.

However, if internal organization politics are at play and you attempt to bypass the hierarchy, you might damage your existing rapport. Account maps enable you to build effective work relationships.

5. It Aids Internal Account Delivery and the Overall Sales Success

For lead nurturing and account delivery, you must communicate internally with other departments at your company. An account map can efficiently impart tribal knowledge about the customer to assist your manager. The insights reduce future administration overload.

You can also train new hires and prepare for company transition by understanding target companies. Wouldn’t you like to increase productivity and strengthen your future sales efforts today?

Pro Tip: Close lets you communicate internally about your leads. If necessary, your team can assign tasks to the support or account management team.


What to Include in an Account Map

So, you want to chart your prospect company's supporters, enemies, and overall political landscape? Great decision. Here’s the information you can include in your relationship map for every contact at your prospect organization:

  • Job title: Start with the person's title, role, department, authority, and level in the company. The idea is to see how they fit into the overall organizational structure.
  • Name and photo: Getting the managers' names right during a sales call will get attention. So flesh out the identity of the people who hold the above titles. Also, put faces to these names with a headshot.
  • Contact details: Include their work phone, extension, email, mobile number, LinkedIn profile, and CRM contact records. Try to find as many contact data points as possible.
  • Office location: For large companies (spread across geographies), it’s useful to know the country, city, and the office building where you will do business. The information will also help if you get upselling opportunities later.
  • Visual representation of the organization relationships (both formal and informal): Chart the organization hierarchy along with the authority of different figures based on the information above. While the organizational chart of your target company is a great start, the meaty information is knowing the role each of these contacts plays in the buying process.
  • Other info: You can also research informal aspects like each contact's goals and skills (which might help you personalize communication with them). You can use custom fields in your CRM or chart creation tools to fill such information.

Note that an account map's role is to convey a prospect organization's structure quickly. If you’re not sure of the functional and informal relationships in the organization, then it can turn ineffective during sales prospecting.

For instance, look at the chart of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Computer Science & Mathematics Division below.

org-chart-blue account expample

It’s confusing and gives the impression that eleven departments report to the director.

The relationship dynamics at your prospect's company and how the authority figures exercise their influence are invaluable information. Your visual representation must include that. Next, look at the specific steps to map new and existing accounts.

Five Simple Steps to Robust Account Mapping

Are you ready to find the best path to sale for your prospects? It begins with mapping their accounts and sharing them with your sales team. Ideally, this mapping should start from the discovery stage of the sales process itself.

Five Simple Steps to Robust Account Mapping - Close Sales Pipeline

Step 1: Ensure You’re Going After the Right Accounts

Finding intricate details of accounts is a time-intensive task. Before you begin, you must have your ideal customer’s profile (ICP) handy.

Once you identify your key customers' challenges and know how to help them through them, you can create a target accounts list (TAL). These are the accounts where you should spend most of your company resources. Albacross shares 11 ways to make a raw TAL if you don't have a list.

With a CRM like Close, you can prioritize the accounts you pursue through the pipeline view. Use criteria like Opportunity value, likelihood to Close, expected close date, and other criteria to identify the correct accounts.

Step 2: Build an Organizational Chart of Your Target Company

Mapping begins with plotting the formal organizational hierarchy at your target company. So, to create an org chart, you need to either manually enter the data from your CRM or export the data of your accounts (here’s how to do it in Close) and upload a CSV file to a chart creator.

You can use a diagrammatic application like Venngage or Lucidchart to create org charts from data organized in a spreadsheet. You can also choose other relationship mapping and data visualization tools for creating account maps.


Source: Lucidchart

This research step can be tricky if you have zero prior context of the target company. If you can afford paid solutions like DiscoverOrg and Detective by Charlie, get them to create the org chart for you.

Otherwise, you can collect data on your customers manually through LinkedIn. The professional network has a sophisticated mapping mechanism that can unveil corporate hierarchies. However, researching using keywords and job titles can become tedious. You can use the LinkedIn Sales Navigator to expedite the process.


You can use additional sales tools to find email addresses, contact information, and other placeholder values (that we covered in the last section).

If you’re dealing with a relatively large organization, then you should also define the scope of the chart. Limiting yourself to a few departments where you see opportunities to pitch your products might make sense.

Pro Tip: Already have a great relationship with an account? Then directly ask your contact for their organization chart. If you show the intent to understand the inner workings of a company, then your contact might offer assistance. Most sales professionals don’t make the ask because of fear of rejection.

What if you’re dealing with a relatively new account?

Then, a direct request for an org chart might seem pushy. A way out is forging partner relationships with companies selling complementary products in the same market as yours. Such partners might have mapped the market and can provide you with intel to target your key accounts.

Companies with overlapping ICP and TAL (which you arrived at in the first step mentioned above) will be great partners. You can use Crossbeam to find your overlapping customers while ensuring your other data remains secure.

Step 3: Gather Info From Your CRM + Other Sources; Label Key Contacts

It’s time to expand the visual representation of the prospect’s hierarchy you built in the last step. You must investigate your contacts and determine their feelings about your product. If an individual plays a vital role in closing the deal, then learn more about their professional and personal lives.

Record all of the above data with the details of who participates in the buying process in your CRM. You can assign roles like deterrent or purchaser to relevant contacts for every company. Color codes for every role (like a green background in your org chart for the purchaser) can further quicken your understanding of every account contact.

Account mapping software might offer unique features to depict the above relationship dynamics visually.

For instance, Org Chart Software uses dotted lines to represent influence, colors to signify affinity with the contact, and a power meter at the top of each card to represent the contact's decision-making power.


Source: Demand Farm

Step 4: Identify the Best Path to Sale

Sales is no longer a linear process, and purchase decisions are no longer hierarchical. If you hit a deterrent (remember the roles we talked about in the previous step?) early on in your prospecting, it might lead you to believe you need to drop the account.

However, you can use the account map to identify who has the buying power and find people who can make a purchase decision. The goal is to determine the relationships that will create a consensus and let you close the sale. You might need to add new lines to indicate which relationships will influence the deterrents and help close the deal.


Source: Lucidchart

Step 5: Maintain Your Account Map

Your company needs to keep updating the map as the relationship dynamics at the prospect company evolve. It might mean adding more contacts, additional notes about your account administrator, or even the arrival of a new decision-maker at the prospect company.

As your relationship with an account deepens, account mapping becomes more collaborative. Your account management, account delivery, and marketing teams need to contribute regularly so your sales team knows the current status.

Transform Your Sales Approach with Effective Account Mapping

An account map gives you access to your buyers' decision-making process. You can use it to plan your sales and marketing strategies, stay in touch with relevant stakeholders, and avoid getting held up when communicating with the middlemen.

If you’re selling a complex solution or dealing with large enterprises, the relationship map enables you to touch base with multiple decision-makers. It’s an asset in the modern buying environment, as multiple people sign off on every new purchase.

Want tips on negotiating better deals? I've written an entire book on the subject, and you can claim your free copy here!

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