Mind the Gap: Org Charts Are Derailing Your Sales Process


Org charts are a graphical representation of the chain of command at any organization. They tell you who is in charge of what and who reports to whom. And while they have long been included in the forgotten pages of every employee handbook, they have recently found to have a new purpose – sales prospecting.

The idea is that if a sales rep has access to an org chart, they can know exactly who to target and thus make their outreach more effective. Sounds great, right? After all, a significant portion of any SDR’s time is spent figuring out the right person to contact and if org charts can give them a roadmap to the buyer, it is nothing short of a jackpot! But as they say, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Let’s start with some simple statistics and then we’ll get down to each of the supposed benefits of using org charts in sales prospecting.

According to research, the total quit rates for all industries in the US was 27.9% for 2019, up from 23.7% in 2015. On top of it, 38.6% of turnovers are caused by employees leaving in the first year and 49% of younger employees say they might leave their job in the next two years. All this data points to one basic fact – companies aren’t a stable system with a specific set of employees working in specific roles. They are like an organic being constantly changing and evolving where employees and departments are all moving pieces.

If you add to it the massive disruptions in the job market due to COVID-19, it is evident that the process is only going to accelerate.

To put that into perspective, even the best and most diligent of companies update their org charts annually and most companies might do it only when there has been a major shuffle in employees, departments, or locations. This is the reason almost every org chart out there is festered with inaccuracies and outdated information with little use in any context.

Go ahead, look at the org chart of your own company. Either you may not have an org chart or if you do, it is guaranteed to have inaccuracies at one level or the other.

That said, many companies sell org charts as a single source of truth of any organization that holds immense potential for improving the sales process. If you are one of those customers, looking to give your sales and marketing team an edge by purchasing org charts, it’s essential for you to have a reality check.

Here’s a brief rundown:

Expectation 1: Org charts are the roadmap to the buyer

Reality – One of the worst mistakes you can do in sales is to call or email a person expecting they are somebody else. Like if you call James and say “Hi Mike, we have a solution to help your sales team close deals faster”, no matter how great your product is, it is almost certain that you won’t get the desired response.

Sales reps relying on org charts make this mistake often because they simply pick a name from an org chart and call the person at the position but they have no idea that the person was replaced months ago or contact the right person but have them no longer be working in the role or capacity required for them to be a decision-maker. Inversely, they might call a prospect who has left their job which is equally useless. That is why, instead of a roadmap to the buyer, org charts can be a dead-end to your sales process.

Expectation 2: Org charts enable multi-touch sales and marketing outreach

Reality – You might believe that with org charts you know the role of every person in the organization and thus strategically reach out on different levels for maximum impact. But again, as discussed above, employee turnover at lower levels is much higher and thus most of your emails and calls would either not connect or end up going to unintended recipients. Instead of a coordinated sales outreach, it just leads to a chaotic and desperate attempt to reach the right people.

Expectation 3: Org charts enable cross-selling

Reality – The notion is that you sell a product to a department or location of any company and then an org chart can help you navigate their internal structure and relations and thus discover cross-selling opportunities to other departments or locations. Again, this is a highly misplaced notion because not only do employees constantly move around but even departments and locations are often shuffled.

That said, it’s not entirely the fault of businesses for falling for the illusion of org charts. Salespeople need some kind of solution to make their outreach personalized and effective so when they are presented with these purported benefits of org charts, they are highly motivated to try a solution.

In an ideal world, where org charts were constantly updated, they’d surely be one of the most useful resources and even SalesIntel would include them on its platform. But we don’t live in an ideal world and we realize that in its current state, org charts bring more harm than good to the sales process.

A Better Alternative: Matrix

That said, we also realize that sales professionals need some kind of information to reach the right buyer and in that regard, a department / job level matrix does a better job of finding the right target. A matrix is a comprehensive overview of contacts at any company based on their job titles and department. So you’re immediately able to see the distribution of contacts at your target accounts based on their department and job level, making it easy to drill down into those details and identify exactly who you need to be targeting. And since the data is guaranteed 95% accurate you know you’re focusing on the right decision-makers vs. using an unreliable org chart.

This has two clear benefits compared to org charts:

  1. It includes only the accurate and verified information unlike org charts thus offers a much more reliable view of your accounts.
  2. It doesn’t offer any misleading elements like a chain of commands that continues to shift. It’s just simple pure facts.

And it’s not just anecdotal. Many of our clients have seen significant improvements in their sales process and outreach using these Matrices.

Closing Remarks 

Many businesses are willing to pay top dollar to their data providers for access to org charts. They expect it would help them personalize outreach and make their sales and marketing efforts more targeted and effective.

But in reality, it is nothing more than a misleading piece of information that results in dysfunctional outreach. Many businesses learn this fact the hard way. Don’t fall for the illusion; your sales and marketing team is better off without org charts. The last thing you need to do is supplement unreliable data from other data providers with inaccurate org charts. That just adds insult to injury. If you need to precisely reach out to the right decision-makers, our Matrix coupled with accurate contact information will do the trick.

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