Stakeholder mapping for sales

Posted April 22, 2024

headshot of blog author, woman smiling

By Serena Miller

Editor, Sales Best Practices at Outreach

Stakeholders can make or break your business, so it's crucial to understand who they are, their input level, and how to keep them satisfied while accommodating their ever-changing needs. 

Introducing stakeholder mapping to your team members, particularly in the sales and marketing departments, is one of the most effective ways to meet the needs and wants of your primary stakeholders. 

Stakeholder mapping is about identifying key stakeholders and understanding how decision-makers influence your sales process. In this article, we'll review stakeholder mapping best practices and how to analyze, implement, and improve your stakeholder map. 

See why AEs that use MAPs have a 26% higher win rate than those who don’t

Senior AE Grace Presnick breaks down why the traditional approach to account planning is doomed to fail, what to do instead, and 5 practical tips to keep your buyers engaged through long, complex deal cycles with mutual action plans (MAPs, for short).

The influence of stakeholders on sales strategy

When it comes to sales, the level of engagement and interest from your stakeholders will influence your sales strategy. Every stakeholder has different needs and perspectives. As sellers, it’s our job to adjust our approach to meet these needs. Ultimately, it makes your sales pitch stronger and more personalized.

What's more, recent data from Outreach shows that engaging multiple stakeholders in the sales process — what we call multithreading — can lead to bigger deals and more wins. When more than one contact is engaged, deals are 37% more likely to close. By talking to people across different departments and levels in a company, we get an even fuller picture of what the client needs.

multithreading quote from Outreach lead solutions consultant

How to perform a stakeholder analyses

Stakeholder analysis is a process used to identify and assess the interest, importance, and impact of different stakeholders on your sales strategy. This ensures effective stakeholder management, especially on potential issues or conflicts.

To perform a practical stakeholder analysis, you need to consider three vital steps: identify, prioritize, and create a plan.

Identify your stakeholders

Identifying your stakeholders simply means brainstorming who your stakeholders are. In identifying stakeholders, you'll list all people affected by your work and who are interested in your successes or failures. While brainstorming potential stakeholders, you should consider the following factors:

bullet

Their role in the decision process

bullet

Degree of influence on your decision

bullet

Attitude toward your organization

bullet

Control over your resources

bullet

Financial interest or stake in your business

Prioritize your stakeholders

Prioritizing your stakeholders involves assessing both their influence on and their interest in your project or business. This assessment helps identify which stakeholders will have more impact on your project and determines the level of resources and attention you should allocate to them. It also highlights key stakeholders, facilitating the development of an effective sales strategy that fosters buy-in.

The stakeholder grid, or matrix, is a practical tool for visualizing and prioritizing your stakeholders. It categorizes them based on their level of influence over and interest in your organization, guiding you on appropriate engagement strategies.

Here are four refined categories for stakeholder prioritization:

check-mark

High influence, high interest stakeholders (e.g. managers, admins): Engage these stakeholders thoroughly to ensure their continued support and satisfaction. Their active involvement is crucial for gaining essential backing for your project.

check-mark

High influence, low interest stakeholders (e.g. finance teams, department heads): Keep these stakeholders adequately informed and engaged without overwhelming them. Tailor communications to their needs and interests to maintain their support without causing disinterest.

check-mark

Low influence, high interest stakeholders (e.g. individual contributors, everyday users): Regularly update these stakeholders and actively involve them in discussions related to areas where they have concerns or can offer valuable insights. Their enthusiasm can be leveraged to enhance project details and community relations.

check-mark

Low influence, low interest stakeholders: Monitor these stakeholders and engage them minimally to keep them informed about relevant developments. Ensure communication is straightforward and infrequent, addressing only pertinent issues to avoid overload and disinterest.

Create an engagement plan

Once you've identified and prioritized your key stakeholders, the next step is creating an engagement or account plan. The following 4 steps will help you make a plan:

01

Clarify your goal and any requirements you should meet.

02

Identify how to engage your stakeholders, including what channels and messages to use, how often to engage them, how to report back, how they will reach out to your organization, and what kinds of questions you will ask them.

03

Choose how to record and report your stakeholder engagement plan.

04

Maintain continuous monitoring by regularly gathering feedback, adjusting your engagement strategy, and managing risks that may arise.

Stakeholder management is key to sales success

Effective stakeholder management is pivotal for driving sales and achieving overall business success. By aligning with stakeholders' interests, building trust, leveraging their influence, and fostering lasting partnerships, businesses can effectively drive actions that drive real results.

Outreach Data Insights
When more than one contact is engaged, deals are 37% more likely to close

Sales cycles are getting longer, and more voices need to be heard before any contracts are signed. You already know multithreading is a great practice, but cross-department threading could be your strategic advantage.

Adopting these principles becomes even more critical as sales teams shift towards account-based selling motions, a strategy that demands a modern and strategic approach. However, many teams find that their legacy sales technologies fall short in supporting this complexity. 

This is where Outreach comes in. The Outreach platform is designed to help sales teams develop a proactive, targeted, and personalized engagement strategy. These tools enable teams to identify potential champions and decision-makers, build stronger business cases, and optimize the way they target accounts. Through these targeted strategies, businesses can better manage their relationships with key stakeholders, making their sales efforts more efficient and effective in today's fast-paced markets.

To learn more about how Outreach can help sales teams manage and guide their deals, explore our interactive product tour or meet with the team to get a personalized demo


More FAQs about sales stakeholders

What are stakeholders, exactly?

The term "stakeholder" broadly includes any group of individual who affects your business or can be affected by the decisions you make about your business. They include your business partners, employees, investors, consultants, influencers, sales leaders, and others involved in running your business or contributing to your business through sales.

There are two different types of stakeholders: internal and external stakeholders. External stakeholders influence your buying process, while internal stakeholders are people within your business who overlook and ensure a smooth engagement with those external stakeholders.

Many businesses miss out on crucial sales opportunities because their internal teams don't take the time to recognize stakeholders throughout all different stages of the buying journey. It's natural for businesses (especially start-ups) to become overly reliant on the few regular contacts they've gained over time and fail to establish new pipelines that would maximize their potential customers.

The key to unlocking new pipeline, though, is to deeply understand the wants and needs of potential buyers so that you can attract the right people at the right time. There is an ever-increasing need to accommodate the unfolding group of buyers with increasing knowledge and awareness of their expectations. 

Stakeholders vs. decision makers: What’s the difference?

In the context of sales, the terms "stakeholders" and "decision makers" often refer to different roles, although there can be some overlap between the two groups. 

Stakeholders are individuals or groups that have an interest in the outcome of a particular project, product, or decision. In sales, stakeholders can include a wide range of people:

  • Employees who might be affected by the sale or by the implementation of a product or service.
  • Managers who oversee the operational aspects that might be influenced by a purchase.
  • Customers who use the product or service.
  • Investors and shareholders who have a financial interest in the company's performance.
  • Suppliers and partners who need to know how their contributions fit into the sold product or service.

Stakeholders may not have the authority to make the final purchase decision, but their needs, concerns, and feedback can influence those decisions. They are often consulted or considered during the sales process because their acceptance and support are crucial for the successful implementation and utilization.

Decision makers are the individuals within an organization who have the authority to commit to purchasing decisions. In the sales process, these are the key individuals that sales professionals aim to convince, because they authorize spending, sign off on purchases, or set priorities for what solutions or technology are necessary.

Decision makers can be senior executives, department heads, or any individual designated by the organization with the power to make purchasing decisions. They might consider the input of various stakeholders, but ultimately, they have the final say in whether a sale goes ahead.

How does stakeholder mapping align strategy to customers?

Stakeholder mapping is a visual process that recognizes all stakeholders of a project, idea, or product. In this context, stakeholder mapping represents everyone who influences major decisions and actions in your business or organization. Stakeholder mapping helps you establish lasting stakeholder relationships, maximize your profits, and stay ahead of your competitors.

A stakeholder map allows sales reps, project managers and the marketing team to understand how each stakeholder is involved in the business or organization, categorize them according to their level of engagement and role in decision-making, and respond to their unique needs. This makes it invaluable in aligning B2B sales strategies to meet customer needs and preferences. It also helps establish a framework for your own mutual action plans to benefit internal and external stakeholders in sales.


Related

Read more

Discover the Sales Execution Platform
See how Outreach helps sellers close over 2 million opportunities every month.