Org charts are a roster for sales – they show the positions everyone plays in an organization. A roadmap to your buyer. A sales-prospecting blueprint to identify the decision-makers at target accounts.
And we think the org charts deserves more credit!
Wait – what is an org chart?
Org charts are a visual display of a company’s chain of command: They show the reporting structure of an organization: who reports to whom.
Org charts come in different formats! Here’s how the Wells Fargo organizational structure is displayed in DiscoverOrg, for example:
Steve Waters, DiscoverOrg’s Senior Director of Commercial Sales, highlights the superpowers that organizational structure 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!
1. A sales roadmap to your buyer – and their sphere of influence
“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.”
Waters offers several use cases to leverage a buyer’s sphere of influence:
- Suppose you have a great conversation with an analyst at one of your target accounts: Great … but they’re probably not your buyer. Using org charts, you can look up the food chain and see who the actual buyer is.
- If you have an inbound lead, ask if anyone else should sit in on your call or demo – and don’t be afraid to drop names (because with the org chart, you have them!): Should anyone else should be included on this call? What about Sylvester, your Director of Operations?
- “There’s also a use case for longer sales cycles,” Waters says. “Nothing is worse than watching a deal die on the vine because you were talking to the wrong people.” As the sales cycle progresses, different stakeholders are involved – and you want to know who they are!
- Follow up with inbound leads that don’t convert. This has probably happened to you: You got an inbound lead, and the company was a great fit – but you can’t get them to respond. You try 10-15 times, and nothing. Are you just going to give up? No. With the org chart, you can engage with other stakeholders and keep that conversation going!
It’s a lot easier to plan your approach when you can actually see who reports to whom!
2. Org charts offer multiple alternate points of entry to sales
Have you ever been in the middle of a productive, promising email conversation with a prospect – and they left you on red?
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 more than one person at your target account is involved 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.
Use organizational charts to build support from individual contributors
Another benefit of using organizational hierarchy to find multiple stakeholders and potential users, and build groundswell for your solution among employees.
“If a lot of people are talking about the problem, and your solution, at the water cooler,” Waters says, “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. “I’ve actually heard of people quitting their jobs to get good data!” Waters says. “It’s a morale-killer, knowing there’s a good solution to a problem that’s slowing you down … but the company just won’t invest.”
3. Find up-sell and cross-sell opportunities to expand within accounts
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!
For large enterprises
If you sell a lot of solutions, you probably have different buyers for each. 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 multiple sales teams, multiple 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 an org chart, you wouldn’t know these opportunities existed.
4. Use the org chart to CC your prospects’ boss on email
Waters likes to aim high: 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,” 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 (tactfully!), it lights a fire under them to take action.
“Some CRMs and MATs enable users do this at scale. In DiscoverOrg, you can add a ‘Reports To’ field and copy whomever the prospect reports to, on all your cold emails – so this tactic scales well.”
Read It: 8 Great Prospecting Email Examples
5. Use trade-show contacts to reach the REAL decision-maker
“At events, the majority of people we meet, by definition, aren’t decision makers,” says Waters. “Most decision-makers don’t go to events.”
People get excited and over-promise the potential of new opportunities at events. Then 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?
“How many times have you been to an event,” Waters says, “and had a great conversation with a Sales Development Rep. Let’s call her Sarah. You made a strong connection. Sarah’s company needs what you have, the company is a great fit, and – maybe it’s the cocktails – you think, We’ll definitely connect!
But when you reach out later, Sarah leaves you on red.
But just because Sarah hasn’t gotten back to you doesn’t mean the account is not a good fit. Are you just going to give up? Are you going to say, “That leads gone, oh well.” No. You’re a good salesperson, you don’t give up.
Org charts to the rescue!
Find the org chart of your prospect’s company, and look up the food chain to find someone with the ability to sign a check. Reach out, and leverage your conversation at the trade show by referencing the pain point you discussed. (And don’t forget to copy Sarah!)
For example: “Hey, I was at this conference and Sarah your were focused on solving X issues – which is perfect, because we can solve that for you.”
(What happens next? Refer to org chart superpower number 4.)
“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.
Read on! Here’s more about how to use the org chart to land and expand within accounts: