Relationship Mapping is a common practice in accounts and major sales opportunities where you match up your executive contacts with similar level client contacts. Then you can create account coverage and some peer-to-peer relationships.
There are several major problems with this practice.
For starters, it limits the salesperson to the same level in the clients’ organization. To call higher, the salesperson or account owner must first call in his/her executives.
Then, by aligning executives to executives, the ability to build consistent, trusted relationships is restrained, especially since executives do not have the time to commit to maintaining the relationships to which they are assigned. The inevitable result is that polite, respectful relationships are built at the executive level, but then at meetings get reduced to a dutiful “once a quarter catchup.”
This results in the salesperson or account manager’s currency continually being minimized. Why would a client executive wish to interact with your salesperson if they have your business card, or even worse, your manager’s business card in their top drawer?
The role of the sales leader in leading your team plays against the construct of Relationship Mapping. The leader’s role is to be continuously increasing the currency of your sellers and account managers. And to be constantly striving to enable your sellers to operate at higher levels within the client’s organization.
So, what can be done about this? One of the key ways to enable building the currency of your sellers is to make joint executive calls, backing them up with your support, and making sure the client sees they are empowered to deliver on behalf of your company. Your responsibility is to ensure the meeting is placed in the hands of the salesperson and to make it very clear this is the salesperson’s meeting.
Think carefully before being utilized to sell on behalf of your salesperson. Frequently, a sales leader’s customer calls are clumsy attempts to close a deal the salesperson has been unable to complete. These types of calls generally do more harm than good and are often executed as an act of last resort.
In short, your role is to demonstrate the commitment of the company behind the salesperson and the solution which is being proposed. It is to assure the client that the partnership and journey together has his/her personal backing and commitment.
There is nothing more satisfying then observing your salespeople developing wide-ranging relationships within their accounts. I remember being invited by one of my account managers to a luncheon appointment with the CEO of one of our clients, a person I had not met. It was great to witness the valued relationship that had developed to the point I almost felt slightly unneeded!
Encouraging, supporting, and motivating your salespeople to develop many relationships in an account requires your commitment to coaching. And yes, it also implies a higher level of risk taking.
The more you can do this, the more your organization will scale. You will also have complete control over the interactions with your clients, rather than being reliant on other executives to execute on your behalf.
I encourage you to grow your salespeople to “punch above their weight” by setting aside traditional Relationship Mapping. Enable them by putting your support and commitment behind them. Coach them. Motivate them. Encourage them.
Redefine Relationship Mapping for several of your accounts. Then develop a coaching and account engagement plan with your account manager to build their currency with at least five new relationships they have not met before. You will be surprised at the results!