Do You Map Your Relationships Early In The Sales Process?

Relationships are the fundamental business driver, yet businesses suck at mapping relationships across their employee, partner, and customer networks.  As a result, mission critical relationship insight remains locked away in various data silos like email accounts, social media sites, CRM, and employee brains where it is completely out of reach for the front-line employees that need it most.

Case in point — a couple years ago, an Argyle Social sales rep won a deal with a household brand customer – it was a great win for us and we were excited to get their logo on our site.  Our Director of Sales played a role in the deal, but I had no involvement whatsoever – which made the win all the sweeter!  

Months after the win, the sales rep had left Argyle and the customer had some serious product issues.  We made the situation worse with some sloppy “bug fixes” and ended up getting burned by an unfortunately timed login — as in the buggy bug fix was live for about 3 minutes…and the user logged in during those exact 3 minutes and found the “fix”, which further eroded their trust in us.  You know, typical start-up stuff.  

I eventually got involved in an attempt to rescue the relationship.  A quick LinkedIn search indicated that I knew the VP of Analytics at the company and – of course – he knew our day-to-day customer contact and her manager, the influencer and decision maker on the deal respectively.   So there was hope, though this information would have been extraordinarily valuable for us to know several months earlier while we were working the deal and even in the recent weeks when the relationship started to go south.  We could have leveraged my relationship to warm up the sales conversation and hopefully gain personal credibility and relationship capital with the key stakeholders.  But we didn’t.

So I made some calls, apologized profusely, groveled, tried to work a deal, etc.  But It turned out that my effort – and my relationship with the VP – was too little, too late.  So Argyle lost a decent chunk of MRR and an amazing reference customer that it probably could have kept if we had our act together earlier in the process.

LinkedIn is the obvious solution to this problem, at least part of the solution.  If I had developed a process for checking prospect against internal relationships, then we probably good have developed more relationship capital in this account.  

Plus there are some interesting companies churning up that I think might address this problem, namely IntroHive — which I admittedly haven’t evaluated closely.  I also think that employee advocacy platforms like Dynamic Signal, Addvocate, EveryoneSocial, and others (there are a lot) could eventually solve this problem in an interesting way.

Do you map relationships for your strategic accounts?  If so, how and when?  Curious to hear your stories…