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In school, CliffsNotes got me through Literature class. I was thankful for the quick “Notes” version to keep all the character relationships straight in the classics from Shakespeare, Marlowe, or Homer. Identifying the key players and their motivations in enterprise decision-making can be just as confusing. Having a short list of the people you need to reach and a map of how they are connected can make all the difference in swinging the vote in enterprise decision-making.

In small and mid-sized business, acquisition marketing is a lead-volume play. When you move into the enterprise space, it’s no longer about going after the unknown pools of potential prospects. Engagement from within becomes more important in driving hyper-growth out of a small set of highly strategic contacts. That’s why you need to think differently and plan for the complexities of the enterprise buyer journey.

Two things to keep in mind when you think about the enterprise buyer journey:

  1. Most of it is done without you. The buyer journey is not a tidy, linear path. It resembles the London Underground with influencers and decision makers hopping in and out of the journey at multiple stages of the sales cycle. And the customer goes most of the way – 74%, according to IDC – through their buyer journey without ever talking to sales.
  2. Decision making is a group sport. Purchase decisions are rarely made by a single individual. There’s always a buying committee, formal or informal, that includes influencers, blockers, and the true owners of the decision.The only constant in enterprise decision-making is change, and the path to transformational opportunities is through influence. A buying group for one decision might be vastly different for another decision. Understanding that these buying committees are fluid and differ with each decision will help you as you collaborate with your sales teams on decision-based stakeholder mapping.

The value of having a sales- and marketing-aligned account-based engagement (ABE) strategy is that it gives you the platform to begin to map the complex blueprint of decision-based stakeholder relationships. By working together with sales, you marry the business insights from the account team with the added intelligence that marketing can bring to help enrich the profiles of the people you need to motivate. From here, you can identify who you know or need to know to influence the decision.  Here are a few “CliffsNotes” to keep in mind as you build your decision-based stakeholder map.

Five things to consider while building your decision-based stakeholder map:

  1. Understand the impact of the decision. Not just what it means in terms of revenue but the political impact; who stands to gain, who stands to lose. Is Line of Business holding all the leverage, does control sit with IT, or is it somewhere in between?
  2. Know your “fans.” Identify your advocates in the account and map their sphere of influence. What boards or associations do they participate in and what insight into motivation can you glean from that?
  3. Build the initial list: Based on the decision, build the specific list of people or even titles that you need to influence through your fans and then draw the lines between them.
  4. Enrich the profiles: What can you learn through social listening, insights from broad-reach marketing, or sentiment analysis? Fill in as much as you can about what might motivate the stakeholders on the map.
  5. Extend your reach. Your entire account team is responsible for helping to strengthen the stakeholder connections. Each account team member should be responsible for nurturing one or more of the stakeholders to ensure consistent coverage.

Bottom line: When taking an account-based engagement approach, understanding the decision-based relationships sets you up to influence the decision today while building the connections you need on the path to transformational opportunities down the road.