Using Executive Team Relationships for Warm Referrals
Everyone in B2B sales knows the value of a warm referral. When you are introduced to the buyer by someone who they trust, your chance of a first conversation, the likelihood of an open dialog, and ultimately, your chance of winning, go up astronomically. Statistics show that 87% of B2B deals start with a referral so the common knowledge is clearly backed by reality.
Similarly, in most organizations, the executive team is a highly connected group. Within the industry, and across geographies, they generally know many of the key players in the business. If these connections can be carefully leveraged to get into new deals, the potential value to the business is tremendous.
Getting Past “Who Knows Somebody There?”
Every sales team that has struggled with getting into an account has asked the familiar question “who knows somebody there?”. Unfortunately, these efforts are often met with failure. This can happen for many reasons:
- Broad Team: in any large team, the chance that you ask the right person is low. Someone may have a strong connection there, but perhaps you didn’t ask them.
- Too Many Asks: the act of asking is a lot of work. You need to track an executive down, ask them about their connections there, and have them think through those relationships. Usually, this turns up nothing, and you move on to the next exec. This effort means that you’ll do so very sparingly.
- Connections But Not Relationships: with LinkedIn in common use, it can be a good first place to start. However, any teams that have tried that route have turned up so many “I don’t really know that person, we just connected at a conference 8 years ago” and so few real relationships, that the effort seems futile.
- Forgetfulness: It’s not easy to keep on top of a large relationship, and the chance that an executive can name a person they know, given just the company name, is often quite low.
- Job Changes: If a person has recently moved to the company in question, the executive you ask may be well aware that they know James, but not that James now works at Acme Co.
Together, these small challenges make it challenging to successfully identify the executive team relationships that would help you start a conversation at that company. In fact, the challenges often have added up to an unwillingness to bother trying in most organizations, which is tragic when it can be the best shortcut available to accessing new pipeline.
Challenges Overcome by Data
Relationship intelligence systems like Nudge provide a continually up-to-date view of all relationships at an account. Specifically, automatic capture of the following data points:
- Every contact known by your execs at each account
- The strength of each relationship
- The decision-making level of each contact
- The functional role of each person
With these data points captured automatically (not requiring any execs to manually create contacts in CRM or log activities), it becomes possible to solve all the challenges in understanding where relationships exist and which of your execs to turn to for help.
- Broad Team: it’s automatic, so you can measure the relationships of all your senior team
- Too Many Asks: the data is there so you can look at any account at any time and see if a relationship exists before any conversations with your leadership team
- Connections But Not Relationships: the strength of all relationships are measured and updated in real time, so you can easily tell connections from real relationships
- Forgetfulness: every contact at every account is easily visible
- Job Changes: relationships are with a person, not a job, so if a person changes jobs, the relationship is still very real
The automatic capture of the right data makes an intractable problem easily solvable.
Access to Accounts, Access to Revenue
The business networks of the highly connected leadership teams at most companies are among the companies’ most valuable assets. Being able to access accounts through this network unlocks an untapped source of new deals in pipeline.
As with any relationships, care must taken in working with the relationships of the leadership team. Since they are executive relationships, generally senior sales leaders or VPs are the ones introduced, not junior business development reps. However, when done carefully and respectfully, they can help your team break into accounts that would have otherwise been impenetrable,and get new revenue into the pipeline.