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    How to win more deals with stakeholder mapping

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    In my experience, the #1 problem for salespeople engaged in complex b2b sales is failing to understand how customers and prospects make decisions.

    This fundamental failure leads to a large number of problems, including these top ones:

    1. We end up talking to just one person (or a small handful of people) and hoping they’ll do our internal selling for us
    2. We think prospects are much closer to buying than they are
    3. We think we can push the deal faster by being more aggressive in explaining our features and benefits, without truly understandning what they are looking to accomplish

    All of these problems end up delaying, stalling, and killing deals - the opposite of what we actually want to be doing.

    Some sales and marketing organizations attempt to solve this problem by mapping a generic “buying journey.” The problem with that approach is that the decision-making journey is not linear, differs between companies, and it can change from one purchase to the next. It’s very difficult to predict exactly what the process will look like for each buyer in advance.

    So where does that leave sales? Back to shooting in the dark and hoping for the best?

    The #1 problem for b2b salespeople is failing to understand how prospects make decisions.

    A better approach is to take the time with each prospect to dive in and understand how and why they will be making their decision, and help them move through the necessary steps and milestones to determine how and why they may purchase your solution as a part of achieving their goals.

    One way to make this is with stakeholder mapping.

    How buyers actually make buying decisions

    All the marketing funnels and generic buying process maps in the world won’t tell you the exact steps each buyer will need to take along the way. However, there are some aspects of buying that are consistent within most complex b2b purchasing decisions.

    • Someone in the company notices a need or a potential opportunity for improvement, usually tied to a larger project or goal
    • They discuss this need or opportunity with multiple internal stakeholders to consider if it’s worth pursuing
    • They try to solve the problem or seize the opportunity using resources they already have internally (nobody wants to bring in external, potentially disruptive, and costly elements unless they’re sure they have to)
    • They include more people who will touch the solution in this discussion. Not all of those “stakeholders” are known even to the decision-makers - some stakeholders may be involved informally, accidentally, or without conscious intention, such as a spouse who is consulted informally or a user who complains vocally about a problem - neither of these people may have systemic power or consciously recognized input, but they may unconsciously or consciously influence those who do
    • Together, this crazy quilt patchwork of stakeholders will decide if the improvement is worth the change, how they can manage and minimize disruption, and what “features” and benefits they need in order to achieve what they want to achieve
    • Only then are they truly ready to look at solutions and consider their options

    When you take a look at everything that goes on behind the scenes before buyers even begin to talk to solution providers, it becomes clear that salespeople really miss the boat when they talk with only one or two people, and when they press features and benefits without a deep dive with all stakeholders.

    Membrain makes it possible to maintain robust stakeholder conversations that account for how buyers actually buy

    Membrain’s stakeholder mapping tool makes it possible for everyone on your selling team to capture key information about all stakeholders and influencers. In turn, this makes it possible to initiate and maintain robust conversations that help you understand how your buyers are buying.

    Built directly into the salesperson’s workflow, the stakeholder mapping tools (part of the Dynamic Process) make it easy to capture not only contact information, but qualitative information as well. You can record each stakeholder’s attitude toward the decision, their relationships to each other, their relationships to members of your selling team, and much more.

    Another tool makes your engagement history available visually so you can quickly see who is having what discussions with which stakeholders, and how those stakeholders are related to each other and to your organization.

    Our most successful Membrain customers use this tool to help facilitate deeper and broader conversations throughout the prospects’ decision-making journey. Conversations that dig deeper into what the company is already doing to try to solve their problem, what internal resources they’ve already pursued, what features and benefits they have determined are necessary, and any obstacles that are stopping them from moving forward.

    With this information readily available to the full selling team, our customers are then able to facilitate buyers to a faster and more successful purchase, while acting as trusted advisors and consultants in the process.

    Is stakeholder mapping something you’ve tried to solve with your existing CRM and sales enablement tools? If it’s been cumbersome, or left you wishing for more, we’d love to show you Membrain’s workflow tools! Book a personalized demo today.

    George Brontén
    Published May 26, 2021
    By George Brontén

    George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills, and processes. George is also the author of the book Stop Killing Deals and the host of the Stop Killing Deals webinar and podcast series.

    Find out more about George Brontén on LinkedIn