Six steps to customer stakeholder mapping

    Man presenting: fundamental steps of map development

    Mehrnaz Campbell, Founding Director of Cheemia, explains the fundamental steps of map development and practical tips to quickly develop stakeholder maps.

    Customer stakeholder mapping can be one of the most daunting aspects of business planning. You know what you need to do, but the complexity of the task can lead to procrastination and delay. However, it can be a straightforward process, and often people develop a draft plan in their head without formally writing it down.

    Here we will focus on developing the map. How to use the stakeholder map will be the subject of a future article including alignment with the stakeholder to drive your business agenda.

    What are stakeholders?

    The stakeholder map helps you to identify the most influential customers and how they potentially impact your desired outcomes either positively or negatively. So instead of diluting your efforts and trying to influence everyone, you focus your time, energy and resources on those who can make a bigger difference to your business objective.

    “Do not ignore the stakeholders who are against your brand”

    Remember that stakeholders and key opinion leaders (KOLs) are not necessarily the same thing. Stakeholders are specific individuals who influence your objective. The KOLs are thought leaders, subject matter experts in their specific field. That said, a Stakeholder may also be a KOL; however, a KOL is not always a Stakeholder and may not influence your objective.

    For example, if you have an international cardiovascular opinion leader located in your territory and you want to get a cardiovascular brand on the formulary, the international KOL may not be involved in process of local formulary inclusion. Although they are an opinion leader in the field, if they do not influence the path to formulary adoption of your product, they do not qualify as a Stakeholder in this scenario.

    Six steps to customer stakeholder mapping

    1. The first step in starting customer stakeholder mapping is to define your overall objectives.

    This is the most important step because you want to specifically define the stakeholders that influence the achievement of your objective.For example, if you are trying to get your product on the formulary in an account, the key stakeholder may include the formulary pharmacist, the clinical lead for the specialty that relates to your product and the person responsible for completion and submission of the formulary form. In contrast, if you are trying to increase usage and adoption in primary care for a brand that is already on the formulary, the key stakeholders would be completely different and may include specialist GPs, the medicine management pharmacists and the practice pharmacists.

    2. List the key customers who you believe would influence the path to achieving your objective.

    Think about people who would potentially help achieve this goal, and those who may block your path to success. If you are new to a territory, or unsure about how to identify the relevant stakeholders, asking these questions may help you find them.Let us assume you have a respiratory product and inclusion of your brand on the joint formulary is essential for your product to be used in primary care. Your overarching objective in this scenario is to gain formulary inclusion. Use these questions to help you identify the relevant stakeholders.

    • What is the normal process for formulary submission in the account?
    • Who sits on the formulary committee?
    • Do you require clinical support for submission? If yes, is this a group or individual decision?
    • Who are the clinical decision makers?
    • Who is responsible for completing the submission form?
    • Who is the formulary pharmacist and what role do they play?

    Additional tips: If you want to identify the stakeholders in a new account or therapy area, looking at the formulary bulletin or formulary documents may help you identify the key people involved in the process. Also look at local strategy documents, guidelines and treatment protocols to see who has written these documents. Often the organisation website provides a list of staff, their credentials and indicate their area of interest.

    3. Define the level of influence of the customers identified in step 2.

    I suggest using a scale of one to five to define their influence. Give a score of five to those with high level of influence and one to those with low influence. Remember the level of influence of your stakeholders is relative to one another. This is more of an art than an absolute science, so don’t get too hung up about getting it right the first time. Start with drafting this ranking and if you are unsure, talk to other team members and seek their input to validate your assumptions.

    4. Define the stakeholder’s attitude to your brand.

    Consider if they are supportive of your brand and would advocate it or whether they would actively advise against it. Do not ignore the stakeholders who are against your brand. If they are influential and could have a negative impact on your objective, you need to find a way to better understand their perspective and address their objection either directly or indirectly.

    Use a scale of one to five to define each stakeholder’s attitude to your brand.

    1. Actively against your brand
    2. Quietly against your brand
    3. Sit on the fence
    4. Quiet supporter
    5. Active advocate proactively shouts about it.

    5. Now plot your listed stakeholders on a four-box grid.

    Use a vertical line to represent the level of influence with five being high at the top and one at the bottom. Use the horizontal line to represent their level of advocacy for the brand with five on the right as highly supportive and one on the left as actively against the brand. The top right segment of the axis is for influencers with positive advocacy. The bottom right is for customers that are positive advocates but have lower influence. The top left section shows customers with high influence who have a negative attitude towards your product or service, and the bottom left shows those who are neither influencers nor advocates for your product or service.

    6. Look at the interrelationship between the stakeholders.

    Influence goes in both directions so use arrows to show relationships between people. The influence and interrelationship are based on your understanding of who listens to whom and how individuals influence each other. Defining the relationship is key to help you identify the best strategy to influence your stakeholders indirectly.

    Start creating

    The stakeholder map gives you a snapshot of the individuals who have a positive or negative impact on your objective and their attitude towards your brand. The map helps you to see this very clearly and helps you develop a relevant plan to achieve your objective.

    You could use different axes to segment your key stakeholders depending on your objectives. It is important to keep it simple and do not get stuck on technological/graphical tools excessively as the value is in your thinking and assessment of your stakeholders and their influence on your desired outcome.

    Make a first draft of your stakeholders on paper as this helps to encourage creativity and engage your right and left brain to work together creating a more practical stakeholder map.

    Still unsure about developing your map? Want to see a video to show you how you can get it done quickly? Sign up to our free video course to do exactly that.

    Go to Mehrnaz Campbell is Founding Director of Cheemia. Go to