Multi-threading relationships might not be a familiar phrase to many sales reps, but it should be. As more companies reorganize, there’s a chance that the contacts, including key decision-makers, you’ve come to know may be gone. This is where multi-threading comes in. “Decision-maker turnover is something sales teams have always had to contend with,” writes LinkinedIn’s Grace MacDonald. “While the current situation might mean that more of our contacts are switching roles at short notice, by multi-threading relationships ahead of time, your voice will still be heard in the buyer circle, even if the unexpected happens.”
Multi-threading: What is it?
Sales Hacker defines multi-threading as follows:
“Multi-threading a sales deal means that you involve as many relevant stakeholders as necessary to get the deal done. You get multiple people at your organization in touch with people at the company you’re prospecting.”
Having multiple contacts at a business can ensure that even when a decision-maker leaves, you aren’t left floundering for a replacement. Unfortunately, this would likely be the case for many reps; MacDonald reports that 78% of sales professionals are only connected to a single person at the company they are trying to close.
Foregoing multi-threading not only puts reps at risk of not having a contact due to staff turnover, it impacts chances of closing. MacDonald shares that when sales teams are multi-threaded with six or more decision-makers, there is a 7% increase in win rates for existing customers. “Investing time into fostering multi-threaded relationships across a business is the only way to deeply understand customers’ needs and uncover opportunities to cross and upsell,” she writes.
Tactics and mistakes
Multi-threading relationships may not be a familiar process, but that shouldn’t stop reps from embracing it. Sales Hacker’s Andrew Mewborn shares his “tactics” for incorporating multi-threading into your sales strategy. These steps follow a traditional strategy (discovery, demo, etc.) but with actionable things you can do to pull in more stakeholders.
He also highlights some common errors reps commit when multithreading. Typical mistakes include:
- Starting too late. Mewborn writes that one of the most common issues he sees is reps attempting to multithread too late, when the deal is obviously already going downhill.
- Not connecting people at the same levels. “Don’t try and handle relationships with multiple people by yourself,” he urges. “And avoid connecting a VP with a Director. VPs want to speak to other VPs.”
- Ending conversations too soon. Once a champion begins bringing in co-workers to the conversations, don’t think the multi-threading job is done. As Mewborn points out, “The goal of your champion bringing in other stakeholders should be to set up separate 1:1 conversations with those stakeholders. Just because the other stakeholders were on one demo with you does not mean you are multi-threaded.”
- Not understanding priorities. Before muli-threading, you must understand the prospect’s priorities and those of their company as a whole. You sell solutions to problems, and you need to uncover just how much of a priority that problem is to the prospect and their company. If you don’t have this figured out, you may be setting up yourself, and others at your company, for failure.
- Know when to move along…and move on. Whether it’s a potential new contact or a new prospect, successful multi-threading requires that reps know when to move on. “If one person doesn’t have a priority around what you solve, move on to the next,” Mewborn explains. “They aren’t going to introduce you to someone else and bring them in if they don’t find it valuable themselves. If it’s a small organization, move on to the next company. You tried.”
Multi-threading will be increasingly important as companies shift and restructure and buying teams continue to grow. As MacDonald writes, “Connections matter, even more so in these uncertain times. So, there’s no time like the present to start focusing on how you sustain and multi-thread your connections with customers.”