We assume the best sales teams win because, well, buyer-focused teams. They treat the buyer with respect. They’re good at creating exclusive experiences for the buyer. Buyers trust them.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
But, I think some of the best sales teams are so because they are great at adding value with multiple decision-makers in the buying organization (or B2B sales multithreading). That’s what initially led to product-market fit. Closed multiple deals. Allowed them to scale. Hire that SVP of sales…you see where this is going.
Because frankly, closing the typical B2B deal involves an average of 6 —10 decision-makers (up from the 6.8 decision-makers in 2016), according to Gartner. What’s more, the number of decision-makers could increase for complex deals.
I’ll get into the details and how-tos below, but here’s a short story (told by Becc Holland, CEO & Founder of Flip the Script at a UserGems webinar) that brings home the importance of multithreading in sales.
The problem with single threading
When Becc Holland started as a sales development representative (SDR), she spent a painstaking amount of time building rapport with the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) at a significant account. She did everything she could to be valuable to her prospect. But before the sale went through, the CRO moved jobs.
Booooooooom, several hours of prospecting down the drain.
Becc pulled herself together and began the process all over again with the second CRO.
As usual, before asking for the sale, she led with empathy and did everything she could to be valuable to her client. But as she approached the finish line, the second CRO left…again.
At that point, she thought to herself, “how many CROs before I move forward?”
The one-to-one sales approach Becc used is known as single-threading.
Most seasoned B2B sales representatives can probably relate to Becc’s funny but painful story (sorry, Becc). The rest of this article discusses what multithreading in sales is, and why it’s essential and actionable tips for operationalizing the multithreading approach with your sales team.
What is multithreading in sales?
Sale multithreading is building relationships with multiple decision-makers in the buying organization. It’s you building champions for your product with everyone who can influence the buying decision.
Even in everyday speech, when we say something's hanging on a (single) thread, you know that means it's in a bad place. The same truth applies to sales.
To single-thread your sales is to put all of your sales eggs in one basket— it’s risky and unnecessary.
Plus, If you’re talking to one person in the buying organization and you hear no once, the deal is probably dead. But if you’re talking to multiple people, you could hear no a few times and then hear a yes, which you only need to hear once.
When you take the opposite approach and develop multiple relationships with people in the buying organization, you eliminate all of the risks associated with single-threading and raise your chances of hitting that home run.
Why do sales teams need to multithread?
TL;DR: You always have to be multithreading. Most deals are fluid. People’s priorities are constantly changing. If the deal drops off the radar for your champion, it might pop up on the radar of the individual you just engaged.
Becc puts it best:
“I wouldn’t view the decision-maker as the decision-maker. The decision-maker is the final person for sign-off. But they’re supported or detracted by everyone around them. A good decision-maker listens to their team. They don’t make decisions in a silo. So, you need to think of everyone on the sales call as equal weight. And win them all on your side.”
We (UserGems) analyzed 500 closed won and closed lost opportunities using machine learning models to predict a deal’s likelihood of winning. And one thing was clear.
When it comes to the number of contacts in an opportunity, the more prospects you bring along in a deal, the higher your chance of winning the deal.
How high? A lone wolf (a single-threaded opportunity) has a 5% chance of winning. But take that up to five people (a multi-threaded opportunity), and your chance of winning jumps to 30% – that’s a whopping 6X improvement!
Here’s a closer look at what your sales team stands to gain when you embrace the sales multithreading approach.
It minimizes the risks associated with resignations
A 2022 LinkedIn study shows that 62% of marketing professionals in the United States are considering a job change in 2022, with nearly one in four (24%) actively looking.
Let’s do a little thought experiment.
For the sake of this article, assume the same percentage across IT, finance, marketing, and every other department involved in your buying process. How did that make you feel? Worried? Scared?
Okay, your open opportunity didn't experience a customer job change. So, all is still cheery. But they could be transferred to a new department where they can no longer help push your deal forward.
These changes do not factor your sales cycle into account. Therefore, it’s your job to (a) be aware of the possibility of decision-maker turnover and (b) ensure that you’re protected from the associated risks.
By using a sales multithreading strategy ahead of time, you put yourself in an excellent position to continue pursuing a sales opportunity, even if one of your contacts exits the scene.
It increases your deal success rate
B2B purchases involve many stakeholders. So, common business sense dictates that the more decision-makers you build a relationship with, the higher your chances of closing the deal.
“There’s strength in numbers. A decision-maker has more authority. But they’re going to spend a less amount of time with you. The front-line managers might not have the level of authority but they are going to spend more time with you. If you have their buy-in, the decision-maker would have to go against all of these people to say no,” Becc explains.
But that’s not the only reason. The more departments you get involved in a deal, the more likely that:
- Your solution becomes a company-wide initiative
- It gets a bigger budget
- It becomes more critical to the buying organization.
All these add up to increase your likelihood of a closed-won.
Becc adds, “most of the deals I have won are because I had a stronger relationship with the champions and influencers than I did with the decision-maker. And they fought for me internally. Treat everyone with respect. Provide value. Contextualize things for them according to their different buyer persona. Do discovery on each one of them. Your goal is to pitch the best solution based on what each one of these people is trying to solve for.”
You also never know who or what team can block your deal. So, the sooner you involve the various stakeholders in the B2B prospecting and evaluation process, the more likely you address their concerns early. You don’t want any surprises after a commit to your management team.
It decreases deal cycle length
The sales process can stall because:
- Your champion or buyer is waiting for a final decision from the ultimate budget holder or finance
- The initiative got deprioritized
- The decision-maker, influencer, or champion churned mid-deal.
In a multithreaded sales scenario, you reach out to the different people ( to listen and address each other's needs and concerns together). This process helps you…and them… come to a solution together …and faster.
And you expedite the sales process.
When approached correctly, multithreading in sales ensures that the decision-makers in the buying organization move faster than they would have in a single-threaded scenario.
Before getting into the how-tos, it’s helpful to state this not-often-talked-about truth about multithreading…
Your approach to pre-demo sales multithreading will differ slightly from the post-demo strategy
B2B sales multithreading before a demo call
As an ADR, your goal is to create interest in your product. Therefore, you should strive to get as many relevant people as possible on the demo call. The more people you have at that first meeting, the better.
Ideally, your priority should be establishing contacts with people likely to sign the dotted line. But in this pre-demo multithreading phase, you can be lenient on that requirement.
It's okay if your contacts aren’t only decision-makers. Sara Angell, Account Development Manager, UserGems adds, “having additional people helps generate interest and strengthen the business case.” And that’s important.
So, in addition to reaching out to the decision-makers; try multithreading to the frontline and individual-contributor team members that would use your product. Today, executives often look to their team for software recommendations.
Even if they’re not part of the formal evaluation process, they can share insights that help you strengthen your business case with the decision-maker.
Becc adds, “whether it's an intern, the folks at Sales Enablement, the VP of Sales, the CFO, or the SDRs, when you meet someone at the buying organization, you add value and treat them with respect. You should always be communicating who you are to these buyers.”
“So, if you leave someone out of a conversation, you’re slapping them in the face. And you also turn down someone who could have been an influencer or a champion for your deal. Put your time, investment, and work on the front end of making everyone happy and finding out what matters to them. This is the way to sell,” She continues.
Here’s a sample blurb you can use for your pre-demo sales multithread:
Identify friendly champions before the demo call
Research your account to see if any contacts or friendly prospects could champion you. For example:
- previous customers who used your product in the last role
- mutual connections with your executives and investors
If they used your product in the past, ask about their experience first. If it is positive, you can suggest they join the demo call and/or share their feedback with the decision-maker.
Here’s a sample blurb you can use:
Sales multithreading during the close
The Account Executive’s (AE) role is to solidify the interest, create urgency and close the sale.
So as an AE, you need to make sure your solution helps solve at least one critical business priority of your buyer(s). If it helps solve multiple needs and priorities across the organization, the more likely you’ll get the budget. Hence, the need to continue multi-threading during this process. Now to best practices.
How to sales multithread effectively
There’s a right and wrong way to multithread. Done right, multithreading helps you achieve your sales goals with relative ease. But done wrong, it could signal distrust and affect your sales process.
To help you get started, here are a couple of tips from our sales team on how they approach sales multithreading.
Ask your initial contacts for additional contacts
First, you want your initial contact or someone else within the organization to commit to a call verbally. Afterward, you want to get as many people as possible to join the call.
Ideally, you want your initial contact to help you do the multithreading. That way, you establish trust with your contact, and you’re confident that you’re building the right relationships.
So ask this:
“Who’s going to feel left out if they’re not involved in this conversation. Is there anyone else who may want to join the meeting? Someone this may be relevant to?”
Then let your contact suggest different buyers from different departments.
If you’re speaking with a frontline person, you can ask if their manager might want to join. And if it’s a manager/director, ask if they want any of their colleagues who would benefit from the tool to join the call so they can air their opinion.
Alternatively, you could say,
“One thing I’ve seen before is, if we get too far ahead without your RevOps team, they might not have time.”
In a nutshell, “justify why you’re asking for additional contacts,” Joe Jarvie, Senior Account Executive, UserGems, emphasizes. “You don’t want to step on people’s toes or be perceived as a guy who says, ‘hey, who’s your boss?’”
In best-case scenarios, you’ll get the names and email addresses of people to contact while you’re on the call with them. But that doesn’t always happen.
Sara recommends encouraging your contact to add colleagues to the meeting invitation. And don't stop asking until the demo call has happened.
Here’s a blurb Blaise Bevilacqua, Enterprise Account Executive, UserGems, uses for sales multithreading after a demo:
Many reps are afraid of upsetting their main point of contact. But it’s important you help them understand why they need more people involved in the evaluation, or you both would be wasting time.
“If someone gets annoyed that you’ve involved some of their colleagues, they might be an inexperienced buyer and don’t understand what it takes to get software implemented in a big company,” Joe asserts.
“And that’s a good litmus test for how open to change your contact is. If they’re keeping all the ideas to themselves, then they’re not your person to help push your sale through,” Joe adds. And that’s all the more reason for you to establish additional contacts.
Monitor your accounts for customer job changes — new buyers/champions/influencers
With 20-40% of professionals changing their jobs every year, it’s more than likely new prospects are joining your open opp. account. Your decision-maker could also leave mid-deal.
- Suppose they’re your previous customers. They could be your deal accelerators. Ask them about their experience with your product. If it’s positive, ask if they don’t mind joining the conversation. Or suggest they share feedback with the decision-maker.
- And if they’re your previous prospects (i.e., Closed Lost contacts)? This might sound counter-intuitive, but a deal could fall through for unrelated reasons to your product, like timing, company tightening budget, etc. These contacts already know your value proposition, use cases, and differentiators. So, they are warmer than your average leads. And can still help accelerate your deals.
- And if your decision-maker leaves mid-deal? Don’t give up. Work with your other points of contact to keep the deal going.
“If the decision-maker churns, the excuse that’s likely to come from the rest of the team is ‘well, wait let’s hire the next person who’s our VP of Sales so they have buy-in.’ But you need to keep the deal moving because first, you don’t know how long it takes them to hire someone. And secondly, a new person is a whole different sales cycle. They are probably going to de-prioritize buying any software,” Becc explains.
And it's at this point sales multithreading comes in handy.
“Multithreading means you should have earlier found out what problem they (each stakeholder) is trying to solve and how it impacts them. And then you can encourage them through a process where you position your solution so that they want to and can buy it in the meantime,” Becc continues.
Bring your executives into the thread early
More often than not, you’ll need to sell to executive buyers. Or it could be a high-priority deal or account that needs some sort of executive presence.
In both scenarios, get your executives to help you with sales multithreading into the account. According to the folks at Gong, getting your executive team involved early ( but not too early) increases your likelihood of winning the deal by 258%.
Do it too early (during discovery calls), and the likelihood of the deal progressing to the next stage falls by 23%.
And before we round up…here’s a friendly reminder from your neighborhood SDR.
Make deposits before asking for withdrawals
As a salesperson, your ultimate goal is to land a deal. But you shouldn’t badger your prospects with requests.
You want to show that you care about their success, not just their budget. And you can prove that by taking actions that add value to your multithreaded prospects throughout the process, regardless of their titles.
Joe’s rule of thumb is, “only about one in four emails should be requests.” Other times, you should be depositing value.
Here’s an approach Joe suggests:
“If you’re multithreading marketing, say, ‘hey, here’s our complete guide on how to grow your pipeline by tracking your customers’ job changes.’ Or ‘I read this article and thought you'll find it interesting because XYZ.'"
Use sales multithreading to increase your chances of hitting your commit
The purchasing process in B2Bs is becoming less centralized. Throw in that customer job changes are at an all-time high, and it becomes clear that multithreading in sales isn’t just another helpful strategy. It’s a must-do for sales teams.
So, build those relationships. Treat everyone with respect. Treat each individual as if they were your primary contact. And watch your sales team smash quota with ease.