Running an organization is all about making informed decisions and working with different groups of people. Have you ever looked around you? You are talking to clients, prospects, partner organizations, vendors, investors and people referring others to you. Maybe you manage employees and volunteers.
These groups of people are called stakeholders for the simple reason you have a stake in having a relationship with them. Ask for information, share facts and feelings, they result in informed decisions that act as your business compass.
Stakeholders in your business
Let me give you a couple of examples of what this means in your daily life:
- Sharing your services regularly at networking meetings translates into having others refer potential clients to you
- Negotiating a contract with your preferred vendor is based on market research and perhaps on your former experience with them
- Sending a prospect a customized proposal based on the needs assessment you undertook
Now you know the importance of your stakeholders, I bet you want to manage them accordingly. (I know I do!) Managing these different groups is a process, and often done informally. Increase your strategic focus and align your stakeholder processes with your long-term plan.
A 4-step stakeholder analysis
The following 4-step exercise is easy and helps you to positively influence your stakeholders and increase your sales.
Step 1. Identify your stakeholders
Simply make note of what groups of people you are talking to and doing business with. Make sure to capture what the purpose is of your connection.
Step 2. Analyze your stakeholders
Note down what your stakeholders needs and concerns are along with their influence on your organization is (high or low). The best way to figure this out is to simply ask them.
Step 3. Create a simple visual
Keep track of everything you learned about your stakeholders. For some, a stakeholder matrix in Excel is perfect; others prefer to see a grid or a circle showing the impact. Here is are two basic examples to get you started.
Step 4. Engage stakeholders
Find out how your stakeholders want to know about exciting opportunities, new projects and more. Ask them a few more questions because people are often open and flattered you want their input.
- What information do they want to hear about? Examples are workshops, networking events, promotions, community events, job opportunities, etc.
- What communication channel is their preferred choice? Examples are social media, newsletter, blogs, emails, phone, FAQ section, invitations, etc.
- How often are they interested in hearing from you? Examples are daily, weekly, monthly, bi-annual, etc.
Understand and engage your stakeholders
Marketing: With all this information gathered, you can now put the data to work and improve sales through a targeted marketing strategy that includes regular communication with relevant updates, promotions and possibly new services.
Partnering: You can also consider partnering with other businesses [link: http://kaleidoscopic.ca/small-business-partnerships-part-1/] to improve value to your customers or to increase your reach. I advise you to create a separate stakeholder matrix or grid specifically for such a project as it is intense, long-term and has a big impact on your business.
Giving: People care about their community, just like you do. Share with stakeholders why you care, how you support your community and showcase the charity’s work. Customers and other stakeholders will be thrilled with your integrity. And that can have more impact than your amazing product or service!