It goes without saying that an organisation’s shared network holds immense revenue opportunities. Like we’ve said earlier, the right Relationship Intelligence platform can allow an organisation to drastically improve business metrics.
This includes discovering more warm business leads and shortening the sales pipeline. Good relationships also affect metrics of Product-Led Growth, like Expansion Revenue and Customer Lifetime Value.
However, the Relationship capital of an enterprise — the cumulative value it derives from its relationships — heavily depends on the interconnectedness of its business network.
Think of an organisation’s business relationships as an archipelago — a network of islands. And like the archipelago’s islands, most employees’ individual business networks remain isolated. But it is interconnectedness that makes a collective relationship network potent.
In other words, the more forthcoming team members are about their professional networks, the stronger the organisational Relationship capital.
But what does that actually translate to in our workplaces?
Practically speaking, most organisations are only able to capture the relationship information from their sales team, which is stored in the CRM. This means their understanding of their relationships is incomplete, highly skewed towards the information gleaned from their marketing or sales people.
Leveraging relationship capital
We know for a Relationship Intelligence platform to be effective we need all teams to share their networks. But there are a couple of hurdles when it comes to accessing this collective relationship capital.
First, you need a strong Relationship Intelligence platform that can truly uncover hidden opportunities. The second challenge is helping people overcome the reluctance of sharing their professional network.
And people are reluctant for a reason.
A person’s relationship network is their Intellectual Property. Professionals at higher levels are rightly cagey about sensitive contacts and professional relationships being accessible to everyone. In many cases, it’s their competitive advantage.
Most sales people will be reluctant to share their network with an immediate team member, who might use it to score leads or get ahead of them professionally. Most sales and marketing enablement tools, which scoop up data indiscriminately, have not helped things.
But their relationship network is also your organisation’s competitive advantage.
The solution is to place some guardrails on information sharing. Adding custom controls in Relationship Intelligence platforms, so people can hide data or control who it is shared with, is a first step.
So if a team member is worried about their network — the relationship information from their emails and calendars — being accessible to everyone, they can just create a cohort, with key-decision makers looped in.
Ultimately, you can create a network of individual ‘cohorts’, like a network of islands. Each cohort holds valuable information, with clearly defined routes of access. In short, you don’t have to share everything with everyone.
‘Single-source of truth’
Here’s a valid question: If people are selective about information sharing, doesn’t it distort the organisation’s “single source of truth”? How does a Relationship Intelligence platform solve for this?
Ultimately, the answer to this is making sure that the people at the top have the right visibility.
For instance, a VP of sales will need visibility into the team’s business relationship network, to make sure sales targets will be met. The CEO, with a focus on market expansion, will need to tap into the organisation’s collective relationship to make key decisions. A Chief Finance Officer might use an organisation’s collective network to put safeguards in place or flag suspicious activity. A Chief Revenue officer will also need access to the Relationship network to build reliable revenue projections.
A good Relationship Intelligence platform, with data-sharing safeguards in place, can limit access of information to a select few people.
All said, a team spanning hundreds of even thousands of members can realise the benefits of leveraging their collective relationships. The free flow of information across teams and collective Relationship networks could do an organisation’s immense good. But that will only happen if the team members themselves feel secure and confident about sharing their data.