Account Mapping 101

Definition, Techniques, and Best Practices

What is Account Mapping?

Account mapping can mean different things to different people, but in its simplest form it is a technique used by sales professionals to better understand what’s going on behind the scenes at a company where they are attempting to make a sale. Quite literally, Account Mapping often consists of drawing a “map” of the relationships and data points that are known about a target company.

Why Use Account Mapping?

Account Mapping is all about increasing the amount of data you have about your prospects. WIth a clearer picture of who the decision makers are, what their motives might be, and who can influence your buyers, you gain tremendous leverage in a sales process. Good account mapping can increase the size of your deals, reduce the time to close, and increase your confidence that deals are making forward progress with each conversation.

Account Mapping Techniques and Best Practices

Mapping the Org Chart

The most common Account Mapping technique is the exercise of mapping out the organizational chart (“org chart”) of the target company. While this may seem like a simple practices in the modern era of LinkedIn, large enterprises are often complex webs of relationships and authority.

Some techniques for mapping out the org structure date back decades, and can often be as simple as extracting information from your existing contacts, collecting names and titles from LinkedIn, or even purchasing information about the employees and relationships inside of a company from data vendors. However, modern solutions have been providing new ways to map accounts via intelligence from your partners and alliances.

Partner Account Mapping

One of the best kept secrets of modern Partner Managers is the technique of using partner relationships to help map accounts. The idea is simple: if you have partners who sell complimentary products into the same market as yours, chances are they’ve already done a lot of work to map and understand the accounts you’re trying to sell into.

Partnership-driven account mapping can therefore be a powerful tool for cutting directly to the chase and acquiring the exact intelligence you need to make inroads into key target accounts. Of course, this requires partners being comfortable sharing their data -- and you getting comfortable sharing yours. Because of this, partner-driven Account Mapping is most often a practice companies will enter into with their most strategic partners.

Embarking upon a joint Account Mapping exercise with a partner first requires understanding the data overlap that exists between your target lists and customer lists. Historically, this could be tricky because it requires one side divulging a full list in order for the other side to discover what overlaps. However, modern tools like Crossbeam have emerged to provide data escrow services and allow companies to identify where their data overlaps without having to share the rest of their data.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Anyone who has attended a sales training has learned about the virtues of “question based selling.” By leading your sales process with an interview-style set of questions, you can often guide your target into selling themselves on your product.

In the context of a question-based selling conversation, collecting data for account mapping can be easy and natural. It’s common to ask questions about a potential customer’s pain points by framing them in the context of their team dynamics, their boss’s expectations, and the things they need from their peers. In the process of this conversation, you can often acquire key mapping insights without asking questions that seem forced or out of place.

Stay White Hat

You can be an effective account mapper without resorting to shady tactics. Far too many unreputable businesses have used unsavory tactics to uncover relationships in an organization. These include lying to assistants about their identity, pressuring contacts to share more than they’re comfortable sharing, or buying data from illegal scrapers or hackers. Play nice, folks. Life is too short for these kinds of shenanigans, and the downside of being uncovered is far too high.

Conclusion

Account mapping is a powerful technique that can be a force multiplier for your sales organization, but it can also be a costly exercise that consumes enough time and money to make some leaders think twice.

For many modern companies, the use of emerging technology and the insights gained from high-trust alliances and partnerships are what makes this practice worthwhile.