Michelle Santoro, CPSM
Director of Business Development
Skanska USA Building Inc.
- Member, SMPS-NY
- Professional Development Committee
A large part of business development, be it your full time job or a function you support among other responsibilities, is keeping track of where your clients are, where they go, decision making and hierarchy within their organization(s). This can of course be applied to whatever type of firm or institution you define as a client (architect, engineer, contractor, institution, etc). It may seem simple but physically mapping an organization chart can go a long way in staying up to date and on top of relationships.
First, do your research and draw the organization chart from the Board level down (separate charts may help depending on the size of the organization). In most cases, a combination of internet research and personal contacts can help you develop a well-informed chart. Do not forget to include links to websites listing board members, senior leadership, relevant departments, etc. when available.
Once you have your names, titles and hierarchy mapped out….it is time to figure out where the relationships are and need to be. The key is to understand who makes decisions, influences and frankly has no say; then determine if you and your team have the right relationships at the right level.
For example, your close friend is a junior planner and can offer intelligence but ultimately has no influence or decision making power, or the Principal of your firm does not know the Vice President of Design but that is where the decisions are primarily made. Aligning your staff at the right levels AND with the right personalities is key to positioning your firm with a client organization. All too often one person at a company holds the only relationship with a client so if either of them move one, you start over!
A few tips when developing your chart:
- Use color coding to identify relationship: Green = strong, Yellow=developing Orange=none Red=poor
- Use this process to establish who from your firm is best as the point person for each relationship
- Use this process to establish the “Account manager” for the client, they should be kept up to date on all activities related to the client
- REVISIT! This is not a once and done exercise
This is no trade secret but using organization charts as a tool for tracking intelligence and monitoring relationships can go a long way in coordinating your firm’s efforts!