Interview Series: The Art of Account Mapping by Partnership Experts
Account mapping is an exercise to uncover account overlap between two or more companies, usually to find new business opportunities or increase a vendor’s footprint at an account. But if you’re in partnerships, you already know that. In fact, you probably work on them on at least a monthly basis with a handle of your partners.
You’re also probably wondering why it hasn’t resulted in as much as you had hoped for. Though the act of account mapping is simple, the surrounding activities — from finding the right accounts, to introducing account executives, and making sure the conversation doesn’t die after one email — is nebulous if not downright tedious.
As someone who’s struggling to understand how best to drive results from countless account mapping sessions and spreadsheets, I had the pleasure of interviewing five partnership leaders to understand their approach to account mapping, as well as best practices and pitfalls. I’ll be posting one conversation per week for the next five weeks in the hopes of elevating partnerships in the minds of sales organizations, if not to just make everyone’s lives a little easier.
“Account mapping isn’t just about figuring out mutual customers, but also an establishment of trust — it might look like we’re just sending CSV files or finding overlaps in Crossbeam, but this is very sensitive data.” — Alexander Shyshko
Takeaways, a.k.a. tl;dr
Amplify Partnership Activities and Results:
It doesn’t matter what you’re working on if nobody else knows about it. Make sure you’re highlighting activities and results coming out of your partnerships, especially to your sales teams, in any way possible. Some opportunities include internal newsletters, sales team meetings, lunch-and-learns, and QBRs. Bonus points if you can get people outside the partnership organization to evangelize the amazing things you’re working on.
Understand Motivations on Both Sides:
Know why you and a partner candidate are working on the relationship. There’s very little point in trying to nudge a partner into referring deals when all they want is an integration. Setting honest expectations upfront will allow you to focus on the right partners, saving you precious cycles and heartbreaks down the line.
Always Be Thinking of Next Steps:
You have a list of customer overlaps. Now what? Don’t lose momentum because you don’t know what to do next by making sure you have a clear goal as to why you need to map accounts. Maybe you want to connect with relevant AEs (why would they care?), just get a list of customers (for what?), or come up with a list of prospects to reach out to (who’s going to do the reaching out?). In any case, know what the next action on you and your partner’s part are to avoid wasted cycles on account mapping.
Think Long Term:
Maybe your initial account mapping session didn’t yield much. But then, six months later, the partner reaches out to talk about your customer who just signed with them. Partnerships, and business development, is overall a farming business — lots of seeds planted, and a lot of time before you see concrete results much less trends. Think long-term, and know that if you’re consistently working on generating new partnerships, building relationships, and creating collateral, you will see results. Getting your processes down to a system is crucial to you not losing faith in what you’re working on during down times.
Partnership Leaders is an organization of partnership professionals that share partnership management tips, tricks, and best practices from strategic alliances leaders from around the world.