An organizational chart is a roster for sales – it shows the position everyone plays in an organization.
It’s a roadmap to your buyer — a sales prospecting blueprint to identify the decision-makers at target accounts. And they deserve more credit!
Because buyer groups ensure that you’re considering new ways to leverage org charts to get your message out there – and get in front of the right people at the right time.
Wait – What are Org Charts?
Org charts are a visual display of a company’s chain of command. They show the reporting structure of an organization and who reports to whom.
They’re a goldmine for B2B sellers because they display relationships between stakeholders, reporting structure, and job titles. Org charts also include details like responsibilities, physical location, and direct contact information.
Steve Waters, ZoomInfo’s Senior Director of Commercial Sales, highlights the superpowers that organizational structures give to B2B sales professionals:
- A roadmap to your buyer – AND their sphere of influence
- Multiple points of entry into the account (often revealing alternate points of entry beyond the single contact you have)
- Find up-sell and cross-sell opportunities to expand within existing accounts
- Copy your prospects’ boss on email outreach (Who’s not going to open THAT email?)
- Follow the org chart from the lower-level contact you met at a trade show, up the reporting structure to identify your REAL prospect: The person who can sign a check.
Sales is a numbers game. Read on to see how to navigate org charts and boost your odds!
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1. Use Org Charts to Determine Sphere of Influence.
When reaching out to an organization, the different buyers who will be influencing the sale decision are unknown. Titles don’t provide much information, so determining the sphere of influence is the first place where sales org charts are helpful.
Also, the sales team could have a name to reach out to, but that person might not end up signing off the deal. So when it comes to that inbound lead, you need to understand who is in that sphere of influence and who they influence.
Org charts show who else is in their direct reporting structure:
- Who do they report to?
- Who else is on their team?
- What other teams might work with them, based on their job function?
Understanding the sphere of influence allows you to bring different players into the conversation earlier in your sales cycle, so you gain more traction. Ultimately, this will shorten the sales cycle as a whole.
“The roadmap to your buyer is incredibly valuable,” Waters says. “You know exactly which person or people you need to engage! Most of the people sales reps talk to can’t actually sign the check.”
It’s a lot easier to plan your approach when you can actually see who reports to whom!
2. Find Multiple Points of Entry for Outbound Prospecting.
Have you ever been in the middle of a productive, promising email conversation with a prospect – and they left you on read?
That’s the danger of a single-threaded relationship. If your point-person has a change of heart or stops responding … your relationship is dead in the water. And so is the deal.
Org charts are effective because they make it easy to have multi-threaded relationships, so there is involvement with more than one person at your target account in the conversation. If you identify multiple stakeholders and include them all in your conversation from the beginning, it’s a lot easier to keep it going – even when someone gets busy or loses interest.
Building Support from Individual Contributors
Another benefit of using organizational hierarchy is finding multiple stakeholders and potential users, and building a groundswell for your solution among employees.
If somebody is CC’d on an email from their boss, saying, “Hey, you should talk to ZoomInfo,” or, “Hey, you should talk to X, Y, Z company,” they’re far more likely to open that email, respond to that email, and engage with you as you’re reaching out to them.
Use the sales org chart to look at the sphere perspective of individuals with an eye to influence and referrals that move through the organizational chart. Starting at the top and working on getting top-down referrals is another area of focus.
“If a lot of people are talking about the problem and your solution at the water cooler,” says Waters, Senior Director of Commercial Sales, “that gets back up the food chain, especially in larger organizations.” The decision-makers will hear about it.
Pain is the catalyst for change.
If you can build groundswell with the actual users, that will get back to the decision-maker – even though they don’t have purchasing power.
3. Seek Out Selling Opportunities in Other Account Departments.
Pop quiz! What’s the best way to boost total contract value (TCV) revenue, customer retention, and open the door for larger deals or more user licenses down the road?
Answer: Navigate the org chart to expand within existing customers, of course!
As more and more companies emphasize customer retention over new customer acquisition, it’s very important to keep your eye on their structure.
From Cross-Selling to Up-Selling
If you understand what’s going on in the org chart, you can actually find multiple buyers or groups that can leverage your tool – giving you a higher price point or getting you that up-sell.
Marketing and HR departments, for example, have very different pain points and likely buy different solutions.
Here’s a sales strategy: Use the org charts to identify buyers in other departments, and ask your existing users for a referral or introduction.
If you have a SaaS model and you want to sell more seats or user licenses, use the org chart to land and expand.
Large organizations have several sales and marketing teams, even multiple brands. And the left hand doesn’t always know what the right hand is doing.
“Maybe you sell to inside sales,” Waters says, “but you want to sell to field sales. At larger companies, there are different sales teams. Take the example of Microsoft: There’s the Azure team, the Microsoft Dynamics team.”
“ … then if you look at the org chart, you’ll see departments that are specific to divisions like Consumer and Devices, geographic regions, cloud, Blockchain, enterprise solutions, small business solutions.”
Without it, you wouldn’t know these opportunities existed.
4. CC All Stakeholders in Your Emails.
If you can get a C-level leader on the phone, great. But more often, they’re likely to refer it to someone else further down the org chart to do the actual legwork of research and evaluation.
This is essentially a referral from the top down. Are you going to say “no” to your boss? Who ISN’T going to take a call, when someone in the c-suite refers it down an organization?
“People are much more likely to respond if their boss or colleague is CC’d on the email,” Senior Director of Commercial Sales, Waters says. “I like to use the org chart to see who my prospect reports to, and CC them on cold or follow-up emails.”
When you copy your prospect’s boss, it lights a fire under them to take action.
The purpose of using the org chart is to get rid of the one-to-one email exchange.
Does that mean that somebody’s going to email you right back? Not necessarily.
But it does increase the likelihood that the team has an internal conversation about your product. And if you do a good job of delivering high value in your messaging to these individuals, they’re far more likely to engage with you and get that demo scheduled.
The org chart is about leveraging business relationships and working within the community at your fingertips.
5. Follow Up with the Real Decision-Maker After Events.
Events are a great way to get everyone involved excited. Afterward… not so much.
When they get back to the everyday work of their jobs, they often go cold, and those potential deals die on the vine.
Does this sound familiar?
If you can then target others within the organization and leverage that interaction – conveying some of the passion that they felt while they were at the event with you – your message is going to connect in a way that is much more unique.
Are you going to give up and say, “That lead’s gone, oh well.” No. You’re a good salesperson, you don’t give up.
Org charts to the rescue!
Once you identify the different decision-makers who matter in the chart, you’re going to stand out from the crowd that much more.
You’re no longer that person saying, “Hey, I wanna sell you my product.” Instead, you’re saying, “What a great experience I had with your team! Here are so many different ways I think we can move forward together.”
That messaging sounds so much different to somebody who’s considering your service, or ready to buy.
Sales Org Charts Get You to the Right Person for Your Next Sale
All of these different areas are going to get you to think outside of the box. Instead of one-to-one exchanges with individuals, think of your target accounts as a collective whole, as a decision-making group, as a buying group.
“When I think of the org chart,” says Waters, “I think of having a treasure map in my back pocket. A lot of other organizations don’t have insight into corporate hierarchy.”
It’s a serious competitive advantage – partly because it’s so often overlooked.
This post was last updated November 20, 2020.