Mapping Orgs And Buyers: How To Take Names And Kick Ass At Startup Sales

Depending on the startup, the process of organization mapping and creating org charts will look different for each business.  Some startups are fine sketching out their target accounts on a whiteboard.  Others prefer to use sophisticated marketing software to help them map out the structure of the companies they’re going after.  There are even some startups out there whose office would have you believe that the founders are trying to solve a conspiracy theory. Printed pictures of CEOs and VPs connected by red string are tacked around the room, each with names, phone numbers and addresses scratched onto the wall below them.  

Whichever method of organization mapping you find works best for you, the goal is always the same:  to identify the key influencers in your target accounts.  Strong org charts, after all, can tell who who you need to be in touch with and how you can go about pitching your product to them.

The mistake that many startup founders make when it comes to organization mapping, though, is relying on their sales team to identify these influencers as they sell.  This is a mistake because it leads to a reactive data set instead of a proactive mapping strategy.  




Instead, founders should be using the org mapping process to create a marketing strategy that can be applied to other target accounts.  If you ask the right questions and take the proper approach to organization mapping, this process will yield results that can be scaled and used to map all of your future deals.  


Understanding the B2B Buying Process

In order to properly map any of your target accounts, you’ll need to take note of what happens during each stage of the buying process.  This means that you’ll want to pay careful attention not only to who enters into your deal, but when they enter and what their job role is.  Finding this information will require you to understand the buying process of your target accounts. 

While the buying process will be different depending on the type of company you’re going after, the typical B2B buying process looks something like this:


Step #1:  RESEARCH

All companies go through a research phase before making any purchases.  Depending on the cost of your product, the research stage will last more or less time.  This stage, however, is basically the point during which the buyer decides that they are facing a certain problem and are willing to purchase a solution.  During this stage, your target companies will be seeking out their options and finding the startups that have a solution to offer them. 


Step #2:  COMPARE

The comparison stage is the one in which companies compare their purchase options.  During this stage, they’ll be taking a look at their budget, talking to the folks in charge of money and trying to determine which solution is their best investment.


Step #3:  APPROVE

Once the person within the company who wants the product decides on the solution they think is best, they’re going to have to go to their boss and justify spending money on a product.  At any company you work with, there will be someone who’s in charge of signing off on purchases.  Depending on the size of the company, the approval stage could include one or a dozen meetings.  Unless your sales process is a swipe-and-go transaction type of deal, you can be sure that there will be people in your target account sitting around a table trying to convince one another that your product is worth the money.


Step #4:  PURCHASE

This is the step you’re obviously aiming to get to.  The purchasing stage is the one in which contracts are drafted up, signatures are signed and you might be able to get a night’s rest for once. 



How Does the Buying Process Affect My Org Chart?

As you start to work your way through deals, you’ll notice that people in identical or similar job roles start to poke their heads into the deal at some point.  Most likely, you’ll notice that, if they have the same job title, they’re showing up at the same point in the deal no matter which company you’re working with.  

Taking note of the exact point in the sales process that each person showing up is an important step towards building a proactive marketing strategy.  This will help you to predict the people you need to be in touch with (or at least will have to deal with) during your future deals.

For example, you’ll probably find that the approval stage takes place at the level of VP or higher.  The folks who sign off on your deal will be higher up and, thus, probably already plugged into your org chart.  

At the same time, however, you may find that it is members of the marketing team who could really use your product.  Because they will be the end-users, these team members can be important influencers in your deal.  While the CEO, VP and even marketing manager might be obvious influencers on your org chart, you’ll want to make sure to plug in a few members of the marketing team as well.  

This becomes useful information for you to utilize.  If one marketing team really wants your product then you can bet your ass that other marketing teams would want it as well.  If you know that the marketing team is in the ear of their boss talking about marketing solutions and that the marketing manager is trying to justify purchases to his boss, you want to know about that before the sales process ever even starts.  


Using Your Org Chart to Take Action

After figuring out who the CEOs, VPS, team members and other influencers at your target companies are, you need to figure out who to talk to and how to get in touch with them.  Having the map, after all, is only half the battle.  Understanding the hierarchy of the company will help you to make informed decisions about how to reach those people within your account that really need your product. 

It helps to use your org chart to draw up a decision making panel.  A decision making panel is essentially a chart you can use to map out the folks within each of your accounts that having buying power or the ability to make important decisions for the company. 




If you’ve got a strong ICP together and you’ve identified your ideal size, industry and budgets of your target customers, you’ll find that the people who have deciding power in each deal generally have the same job title.  For example, if your ICP is marketing companies with less than 1k employees and the budget is determined by the COO, you’ll probably see that the COO determines the budget at other marketing companies of that size.  This is obviously helpful information, you’ll be able to identify that you need a COO to sign off on budget at nearly every company you’re working with. 

When you know these things, you can also develop a strategy around the number of directors, managers and team members you want to reach out to.  Once you know how many people your target companies involve in each deal, you’ll have a better idea of how many people within the company you need to reach out to.  

While this can be an exhausting process (trust me, I have to crack open a Red Bull every time I think of the words “org chart”), organization mapping is an extremely valuable process for startups.  Particularly when structured around the buying patterns of the customer account, organization mapping can be a way for you to better understand your own sales process.  Keeping track of job titles and their role within the buying cycle will inevitably help you work towards predictability, scalability and ultimately, sales. 

Ryan Williams