Unlock Revenue from Relationships – Part 2: Process

Unlock relationship revenueUnlocking revenue from friendships who are also business relationships can be emotionally charged.

Which explains why those with large networks often don’t convert relationships into revenue. It shouldn’t be this way but it is.

To help overcome this frustrating fact-of-life we began with a look at revenue and relationships in context (Part 1).

In this post, Part 2 of the series, we’ll propose a new process to free up revenue from friendships you know professionally but were afraid to ask.

Some parts of this process are new and some have been around for awhile. The following pulls them together into a “how-to” template for action.

The Unlocking: A Proposed Work Process

Use this process on your target prospects. You’ll likely progress through the three phases several times as you move towards submitting your sales proposal. Phases are:

Phase 1: Classify the Strength of Contact Relationships
Phase 2: Map Contacts in the Buying Relationship
Phase 3: Exercise the Relationship’s Strength

Phase 1: Classify the Strength of Contact Relationships

This is your subjective assessment of your relationship strength with contacts in target prospects. You’ll want to know this in advance as it’ll help guide your actions later.

You’ll think about each relationship and guesstimate how far they might help you if, and when you ask, and then classify each to an appropriate level.

1.A) Define Levels (one time setup)

Before you start, you’ll need to define levels of relationship strength this first time. You’ll assign individual contacts to the appropriate level of relationship strenght. Once defined, you’ll not have to revisit them again.

Select a scale for the levels, and then briefly define for yourself when a contact should be classified at each level. Keep levels few (no more than 3) and simple. More than 3 and you’re in danger of baffling yourself with genius. Consider using one of these scales, or make up your own:

  • Strong – Moderate – Weak or None
  • 3 – 2 – 1
  • A – B – C

1.B) Assess Contacts

Work through each of your target prospects and assess the strength of your contact relationships.

Log your assessments using whatever level you’ve defined in 1.A. within your CRM, contact management, or in a note within LinkedIn’s saved profiles (requires a paid account – this is my favorite because it shows your contacts’ connections, i.e. relationships).

The strength of your relationships will change over time. Hopefully, they’ll get stronger as that’s what your sales efforts should be focused on, strengthening relationships and gaining intel before you submit a proposal.

Over time you may come back here and update the levels of your relationship strengths. Also, as new target prospects come across your radar you’ll want to assess the strength of your contact relationships.

Phase 2: Map Contacts in the Buying Relationship

This map identifies your target prospects’ buyers. It’s simple to make and helps identify where you have relationship leverage with those buyers, and where you don’t.

2.A.) Buyers’ Roles

When you map buying relationships you’ll place individuals within one of three roles: Decision Makers, Influencers or the Approver.

Decision Makers

Decision Makers are just that, they decide whether to buy what your selling. You’ll want to test that those who say they are a decision maker really are. Check their claim by asking about their BANT, which stands for:

Budget to spend?
Authority to make the decision?
Need to fulfill a breakthrough initiative or fixed an impending disaster?
Time pressure to get things done now, instead of at some vague future date?

Influencers

Seek to identify all individuals involved in your target prospects’ buying relationship. Include those involved in pre-bidding, pre-scoping and strategic initiatives.

Though they may not be a decision maker, their opinion can be valued by decision makers. Seek to find out who they influence and how strong their relationship.

The Approver

This is the highest executive with final budget responsibility who typically will rubber stamp the decision makers decision. There is only one Approver.

However, if the decision has high visibility or the decision maker(s) are new, inexperienced or in the corporate doghouse, the Approver may overide their decision.

2.B.) Create the Map

Create a map for each target prospect using a simple, easy-to-use draw program, such as Visio, PowerPoint, etc. Here’s three steps how to:

Step 1) Map Layout

  • At top of map, label Target Prospect company & Sales Opportunity
  • Draw an oval about 1/3 the size of your page & place the label DECISION MAKERS
  • Draw a line above the oval & above the line place the label APPROVER
  • Below the line, place the label INFLUENCERS
Unlocking revenue relationships STEP-1 MAPPING

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Step 2) Map Your Relationship Strength with Contacts

This is to identify the strength of your relationship with individual contacts.

  • Enter the names, titles/dept. of DECISION MAKERS, INFLUENCERS and APPROVER in their appropriate locations on the map
  • Draw a rectangle around those contacts you have a STRONG relationship with
  • Draw a triangle around those you have a MODERATE relationship with
  • Draw an oval around those you have a WEAK or NO relationship with
  • If you know which DECISION MAKER has the most power, make their shape larger than the others
Unlocking revenue relationships STEP-2 MAPPING

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Step 3) Map Relationship Strength between INFLUENCERS and others

This is to identify the strength of relationship between INFLUENCERS and DECISION MAKERS and the APPROVER.

This may be difficult in the beginning. Complete it to whatever degree you can and update it later as you learn more.

  • Draw 3 connecting lines from INFLUENCER to DECISION MAKER where they have a STRONG relationship with each other
  • Draw 2 connecting lines where MODERATE strength relationships exist
  • Draw 1 connecting line where there is a WEAK relationship
Unlocking revenue relationships STEP-3 MAPPING

CLICK TO ENLARGE

After you’ve gotten your first map drawn, you can start your first pass at the next phase, which is…

Phase 3: Exercise the Relationship’s Strength

Now that you have a map, you can begin to use your strength.

Unless used, relationship strength is only potential, and that potential can end up a large professional network with few sales.

The ideal use of relationship strength is for the powerful DECISION MAKERS to:

  • Provide you confidential insights so you can create a high-value, compelling solution for them
  • Personally introduce you to other DECISION MAKERS & INFLUENCERS so you can strengthen or begin relationships directly with them
  • Champion your high-value, compelling solution to other DECISION MAKERS
  • Unilaterally buy your solution, if their buying process allows that

But none of these ideal actions will take place unless you ASK.

ASKS are the Exercise

ASKS are what you ask for from your contacts in their buying relationships.

Based on the strength of your relationship, you ask for information, access to others and recommendation of your solution. The more you get, the better you can produce and present a high-value, compelling solution – one that serves your prospect’s business agendas and strategies, as well as those involved with the buying process.

The following table lists key ASKS by strength of relationship. Use it as a guide to take action and ASK your contact for info, access and recommends.

Although you can always ask your contact for anything, it’s your relationship with them that makes it more likely you’ll be given what is asked for.  As you can see in the table below, when you have a strong relationship you can ask for more help towards making the sale.

Revenue relationship strength tabld

CLICK TO ENLARGE

What’s Next? Strengthening Relationships in Part 3

In this post, Part 2, we’ve laid out a  process for mapping your relationship strengths in buying relationships and presented a table of ASKS based on the strength those relationships.

In next week’s post we’ll address ways to strengthen those relationships. In effect moving them up a notch to where you can ask for everything on the ASKS table, and get most of it.

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