The Buyer Mapping Exercise for Enterprise Sales

The Buyer Mapping Exercise for Enterprise Sales

By Scott Sambucci | June 28, 2019

I ran a sales training yesterday, and I walked the group through an exercise called “Buyer Mapping” and I wanted to share it with you.

Here’s why this is important…

In selling to the enterprise/b2b sales, there are ALWAYS multiple decision-makers, influencers and stakeholders involved with every sale. A recent CBInsights report showed there are more than seven buyers directly involved with the decision to purchase a product, not to mention tens of others that will be consulted internally about the purchase.

When I was leading sales at Blend selling enterprise software to the top-100 mortgage lenders (i.e. Wells Fargo, Freedom Mortgage, US Bank), the SVP of Lending was our primary target buyer, but there were plenty of other “buyers” involved in the sales process – risk officers, IT, operations, the compliance team and the loan officers who would be using our platform every day. I reviewed the sales process for one of our earliest implementations at Blend and counted 73 people that we met, demoed, emailed or otherwise interacted with to land them as a customer.

Whether you have 7 or 73 buyers in your sales opportunities, know that every buyer differs in their point of view about their problem and if or how it should be solved.

As a seller, that means that you not only have to qualify the prospect as an account, but you have to QUALIFY EACH BUYER within the sale to learn how they think about the problem you solve, how they are affected by it and how they think it should be solved.

That’s where “buyer mapping” comes in… 

If you can, grab a pen and a blank sheet of paper right now so that you can draw out the model I’m about to describe to you. If you’re reading this on your phone, picture a blank sheet of paper in your mind.

Got it? 

Cool. Here we go.

Step 1: Choose one of the active sales opportunities in your sales pipeline, and then think about the individual buyers involved with the sale. 

This includes your point of contact and product champions, the executive that would be paying for your product and the people on the tech team that are asking all those questions about your capabilities or integrations.

Imagine them lined up in a row in front of you so that you pull them out of line and place them into this buyer map.

Step 2: Next, draw a small dot in the middle of your paper like you’re answering a multiple choice question.

This dot represents the prospect’s PROBLEM, meaning – does each buyer recognize that the problem even exists at their company?

This is one of the main reasons why deals stall. As a seller, you might find a individual or small group within a prospect that sees the problem and wants to solve it, but the rest of the organization doesn’t see it. If one or more of the buyers at your prospect doesn’t see the problem, then you’ve got some hard work ahead.

If you have a prospect in this situation, you’ve got what’s called a “Double Sale” — first you have to sell the buyer that the problem exists and that they should spend their time and resources solving it. That’s the first sale.

Then you have to sell the prospect that you’re the solution to the problem – the second sale (and the one that matters for you because this is the sale that gets your money…)

If no one at your target prospect recognizes they have a problem, then walk away for now and find a new prospect that does have it. Sure, later in your startup’s life you can wage a full assault to educate your target market and prospects about the problem you solve and why they should invest their time and resources solving it.

For now, focus on prospects who recognize they have a problem and who want to solve it. If you have some buyers at your prospect that do see the problem and others that don’t, then you have to decide if the time and effort it’ll take to sell the problem to the other buyers is worth it right now.

Step 3: Next, draw 4-5 concentric circles around the dot, eventually filing up about half the page with circles.

These circles represent the prospect’s PERCEPTION of the problem, meaning – does the prospect see the problem as a small problem or a big problem?

If it’s a small problem, there’s a higher likelihood that they’ve lived with the problem for a while, and it’s one not worth fixing because other problems are more pressing. If it’s a big problem, there’s more urgency to take action.

Even if the actual size of the prospect’s problem is pretty large, if their perception of the problem is small, there’s a tough sale ahead.

In sales, we often talk about finding the customer’s need, but “need” isn’t binary – it’s a continuum from small to large. Selling to large problems is much better than selling to small problems.

Step 4: Now, draw little 5-6 “Xs” all over your page – some far away from the center dot and outside of the last concentric circle, some very close to the center dot and a few in between.

These “Xs” represent PROXIMITY, meaning – how close or far is the individual buyer to the problem? 

An individual buyer at your prospect might agree that the problem is a big one for the company, but if they’re far away from of it, they might be less likely to take action or have influence unless they are a key internal partner to the individual buyers that are close to the heat of the problem everyday.

Going back to my Blend example, while both the SVP of Lending and the CTO might agree that their bank had a big problem when it came to digital lending and the borrower experience, the SVP of Lending was much closer to the problem everyday. 

But, the CTO was critical to the sale because it was the CTO’s team that would be working with us to implement and integration Blend for the mortgage lending team. That meant we had to strategize with the SVP of Lending on how to get the CTO involved with solving the problem for the lending team.

Step 5: Finally as the last step, draw arrows from the outside circles pointing to the center dot, making sure to draw arrows inward from many spots around the circumference.

These arrows represent PERSPECTIVE, meaning – how does each buyer how the problem should be solved?

One buyer might decide that the best solution to the problem would be to buy from an external vendor, but only from an existing partner or an established company.

Another buyer might want to work with a startup to access a more modern solution to the problem.

Another buyer’s perspective might be to build a solution – “We’ve got a great AppsDev team here – we could just build a solution for the business team. How hard could it be?” 

Yet another buyer’s perspective might be hiring people to solve the problem – adding staff to a manual process or bringing in a consultant to improve their business processes.

And yet another buyer’s perspective could be to do nothing – “Let’s wait until Q4 to tackle this…”

So there you have it – The Buyer Mapping exercise. 

It’s designed to give you much more clarity about where each buyer sits relative to the problem and your solution, and what work you have ahead in the sale.

You can use this internally with your team to identify how to approach each prospect, and use it with your key contacts and product champions – ask them to help you map all of the buyers and decision-makers so that you can build a selling strategy to get your product implemented.

Give it a try and LMK what you learned.


Plus, whenever you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you grow your startup…

1. Grab a free copy of my book – “Startup Selling”

It explains the core selling strategies that EVERY startup needs to sell, if you really, really have to and don’t know how…  Click Here

2. Join me on my monthly LIVE Sales Q&A

Every month, I tackle YOUR sales questions on anything and everything sales – Prospecting, Pipeline, Sales Metrics, Buyer Behavior and more…  Click here to save your spot and send me your toughest sales question.

3. Work with me and my team privately

If you’d like to work directly with me to take your company from Start Up to Ramp Up to Scale Up, just DM me here on LinkedIn, put “Private” in the subject line, and tell me a little about your business and what you’d like to work on together, and I’ll get you the details!

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