The crucial importance of mapping relationships became very evident to us early on in the development of Pipeliner CRM. This realization led to a totally unique CRM feature: the Org Chart and Buying Center. There is a science behind relationship mapping, though, that emphasizes and highlights its importance.
Today the business world is very much like a biological organism: there are many interconnections.
While a company traditionally is composed of a hierarchy, horizontal influences have become increasingly important. As Thomas Friedman described in his excellent book The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century, the world wide web has created a level global playing field.
Going back to our analogy of an organism, it becomes increasingly difficult to rate the importance of one organ over another. Which is more important: the heart? The brain? The lungs? The liver? Life would be pretty much impossible without all of these incorporation.
This trend is reflected on a micro-level within a company—influences are many times not seen in a hierarchy, but horizontally or even diagonally from elsewhere. It’s not so much the hierarchy that is important, but the function, no matter where it is on the hierarchical ladder.
The visualizing of these interconnections is what we mean when we’re talking about relationship mapping.
With Pipeliner’s Org Chart, we’re showing the hierarchical relationships within a prospect company. That way salespeople can readily see who reports to whom, and where the decision points might be.
But because business is often not so strictly hierarchical, we also created a feature called the Buying Center. The Buying Center allows a salesperson or team to graphically show all the lines of influence on a deal, no matter where they come from. As we know, influence on a buying decision can even come from outside a company, as in the case of a consultant.
The Buying Center visually depicts everyone involved in a deal at the prospect end—the budget holder, the partners, the decision-makers, the naysayers and the supporters. It can be edited as needed so that you can have a very precise overview of an opportunity.
The Tangible and Intangible
Relationship mapping clearly demonstrates the rising importance of the intangible, as opposed to the tangible.
Throughout history, there has been a focus mainly on tangible items, such as assets, liquidity, and capital. Traditionally the planning and the use of capital was the most important thing; we were fighting for stakeholder value.
At Pipeliner we believe, however, that for the future, the real capital for a company lies in the area of the intangible. Intangible elements include ideas, strategy, know-how, innovation, employee motivation, and trust from the customer. These are all things that you cannot touch, look at, or count. Product innovation could be included, too—not the product itself, which is a tangible item, but the actual power of innovation.
Intangible things are generally regarded by human beings as far more important. In a drastic example, last year in the Los Angeles area, we had massive wildfires. Many homes were burned. But at the end of the day, we were all greatly relieved that those intangible things called lives were saved, despite the loss of tangible property.
The intangible elements are what is tracked by relationship mapping. Those intangible relationships are what will make or break an opportunity.
In my opinion, the real success of a person or company isn’t measured by how much capital they have. It is measured by intangible action. Capital itself doesn’t fundamentally change anything. You can certainly do something with tangible items; with a hammer, you can put a nail in a wall and hang a picture. But the decision to take that action, and even the decision of where to hang the picture, is intangible. It’s the intangible that will make tangible materialize.
As you can see, it is the intangible decisions and factors that will move and influence processes. The better than these intangible processes can be visualized, the better the tangible outcome. The better the tangible outcome, the better the results and financial gains.
Finding the Bottleneck
Another very important aspect of visual relationship mapping is the discovery of the prospect bottleneck for any opportunity—for there always is one.
Let’s look at a bottleneck from a different aspect, that of hydroelectric power. A hydroelectric dam is always placed on the narrowest possible part of a river because that is where the water is moving the fastest. Hence, that is where most electrical power will be generated. That’s an example of positive use of a bottleneck.
The bottleneck in a sales situation might be invisible. It might be that everyone you’re selling to is in total agreement with the deal—but unbeknownst to you, they’re all looking for final approval to someone who is the real decision-maker. What’s very interesting is that person may not even have a meaningful title.
That’s why relationship mapping is so vital. Without it, you’ll likely miss your bottleneck opportunity.
Intangible Values in Relationship Mapping
As you can see, it’s the intangible values that are today overtaking the tangible values. When you are able to help a customer, you create customer loyalty. Today, customer loyalty is everything, and it’s probably the most valuable intangible element there is.
It is these intangible values that are shown through our visualization, in the relationship mapping of our Org Chart and Buying Center. It is what makes Pipeliner CRM completely unique.