Often in sales you are dealing with a single individual within an organization. They are your main point of contact, the person in your CRM, and your champion to get the deal done. This is the standard as it may be the person you previously knew, were introduced too, met at an event, or cold called/emailed. As the deal progresses you rarely think about what can happen if and when that person leaves the organization.
The theory of 3 Wide 3 Deep can help mitigate against the scenario of your key champion leaving the organization. After all, if the average job tenure now is only a few years the chances of someone changing roles is high. This is especially true in startups, sales, and business development — sometimes the key people you are prospecting.
The goal of 3 wide 3 deep is simple
Around your key contact or champion find the two people that work alongside them as colleagues. Find out who they report to, and understand the reporting structure. Finally, find out who is on their team and reports to them.
The goal is simple; avoid losing your key champion when they leave. when this happens usually the colleagues pick up where the person left behind, but are rarely up to speed. The manager may be aware of the generalities of the deal but not the specifics. Finally the team members will hopefully have some idea, but typically not in a place where they can run with something.
The other benefit to knowing the team and inner working of an org. is that when and if someone leaves, you can sometimes be an asset. I have had a key individual reach out during a process to let me know they are wanting to move on from their role which can yield you an intro to the right person, and a champion in a new company. This is an ideal win-win but typically the person leaves without telling you. In rare cases I have seen this work for hiring — if someone really is in love with your product or service, they may want to join your efforts. Tread carefully here.
The real goal is to make sure you are aware of the decision makers, and importantly what happens if they leave. In the world of agencies and direct media deals people leave all the time. In the world of enterprise sales people switch accounts and large companies are reorg’d often. In the world of SaaS services and tools you are only as good a service as the person who is experiencing that pain or problem within a company. If you lost that key individual it can change your entire pipeline or quarter especially if it is a high priced item.
Originally published at Eric Friedman.