Part 11

Deep and Wide

3 min readMar 27, 2024
Salespeople often don’t invest enough time with enough people at the customer, but that doesn’t mean it’s a total loss.

In this story: How engaging enough people in the process can help get the final decision owner to say “yes.”

Written by Maria Edelson, Founder & CEO of Edelson

Most sales managers tell their people, “Make sure to talk to your buyer’s boss,” or “Make sure you meet the division manager,” or simply “Go up! Talk to the big guy!”

I think of that as “going deep,” and it’s pretty good advice. But it’s incomplete. The best salespeople go deep, and they also go wide.

“Going wide” means you know not only the buyer’s boss, but also the people in operations, finance, HR, manufacturing, order processing, logistics, procurement, legal… everyone from secretaries to board members.

Research from Gartner sheds some light here. They found that “the typical buying group for a complex B2B solution involves 6 to 10 decision makers‚ each armed with four or five pieces of information they’ve gathered independently and must deconflict with the group.”

ALL of those people could influence and impact the outcome of the decision.

The value of a 360° stakeholder map

Here’s a true story.

My client needed to develop new business, and they had identified a prospective new customer. This customer had an existing multimillion-dollar 5-year contract with one of my client’s competitors, which was going to expire in 1 year. My client had positioned themselves to be invited to the RFP.

My client spent the year understanding the customer’s business, selling their value, and maintaining a 360° stakeholder map. That was a spreadsheet containing the names of many decision-makers who play a part in this decision. It included relevant information, such as:

  • Function (e.g. executive, operations, finance)
  • Title (e.g. Director, VP)
  • Scope of influence (e.g. all commercial items, total supply chain, global, North America)
  • Relationship quality (e.g. neutral, good, developing, longstanding, none)
  • Meeting frequency (e.g. 2x/year, quarterly)
  • Next 30/60 days (e.g. dinner on 6/1)
  • Business interests (e.g. total cost, innovative ideas, day-to-day business experience)
  • Personal interests (e.g. cooking, travel, 7-year-old daughter Caroline)

After the first round of the RFP, they got the call: “You are 1 of 3 to move to the final round.” The final round was in person with the Board, who would interview the 3 finalists.

In that meeting, my client was successful in unseating the incumbent!

My client asked his primary contact what had sealed the deal. The answer was simple: My client had met with everyone at the table. Further, they had all heard from others in their ‘circle’ about my client and his company, product, service and value.

The other finalists went deep by meeting the “big guys.” But my client went deep and wide. He created a valuable relationship with every single person who had a voice in the decision. He understood what was important to each of them. He was able to have a conversation with any one of them in which he would give them enough value to make them want to talk to him again and again.

Making that 360° map paid off. All those calls, visits and Zooms aligned support. When it came time for the owner of the decision to make a choice, there was overwhelming consensus on the one candidate for the contract.

Do your people have 360° stakeholder maps? And do they use them?

Feedback is a gift. Let us know what you think about this story in the comments below.

This is part 11 of Sales Bites, a 12-part series of stories from 35 years of sales experience with P&G and from training 13,000 sales executives globally. Follow or Subscribe below so you don’t miss the next story.




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