Hitting an early impasse with a prospect is an age-old sales dilemma.
“I was working on an account and had talked to someone a little bit lower in the organization. They said, ‘You need to reach out to our CEO directly,’” recalls Megan Hanisko, manager of sales development at ZoomInfo. “So I said, ‘All right, what’s his number?’ And he would not give me any of his contact information.”
Reaching a dead end when bringing in a new sales account is nothing new. But it illustrates an important lesson: Having just one point of contact or champion is no longer enough. Buying groups for complex B2B solutions involve anywhere from six to 10 decision makers.
Enter the multi-threaded sales approach, which takes this reality into account. Here, we take a closer look at what sales multi-threading is, why you should consider implementing this approach, and how to carry it out.
What Exactly is Sales Multi-Threading?
Multi-threading focuses on building relationships with as many stakeholders within a target account as possible leading up to a deal. It is commonly used in account-based marketing.
Sales multi-threading draws in multiple users, managers, and executives across several departments. Sales teams in a multi-threaded environment create various opportunities to demonstrate the value of the solution.
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Who are the Buyers?
Knowing which personas you sell to is critical for successful multi-threading. Harvard Business Review identified six buying roles encountered in every purchase decision:
- Initiators identify a company problem that can be solved or avoided by acquiring a product or service. They begin the initial research and often present the first buying signal.
- Gatekeepers have the title of buyer or purchasing manager. They behave as product experts and are responsible for staying on top of offerings in the market.
- Influencers have a say in whether a purchase is made and what is bought. The bigger the purchase decision, the wider the range of influencers.
- Deciders make the final decision on a purchase. Typically senior managers come together when making purchasing decisions.
- Purchasers actually buy the product. Typically, this is done by a company’s procurement or purchasing department.
- Users perform their jobs with the solution and will be most impacted by the value it provides.
Getting as many of the above buyers as possible on an early sales call is essential for discovery.
“If a cold call results in a prospect taking a meeting, I always ask: Who on your team would feel left out if they weren’t a part of this meeting? Who else in your organization would find value in taking a look at a tool like ZoomInfo?” Hanisko explains.
Why Consider Sales Multi-Threading?
Despite being highly effective, a multi-threaded approach is not as pervasive as you might expect. Most sales teams still focus on just one contact, which leaves opportunities open for more polished sales professionals.
“My initial encounter with sales multi-threading was while working with my paired account executive [AE] on her open pipeline,” Hanisko says. “A key theme was that if she was only working with one point of contact at an account, it was easier for them to ghost us,” Hanisko explains.
Sales multi-threading prevents this problem because there are multiple points of contact. A LinkedIn study found that 78% of sales professionals take a single-threaded approach when engaging with accounts they are trying to close. Only 7% connected to six or more people at their account, which illustrates the opportunity that sales representatives miss out on.
“Say the AE spoke to a manager who inbounded and then went cold,” Hanisko explains. “The next thing to do is to try and find their boss, then their director or their VP. If none of them responds to us after conducting outreach, we then move on to someone in a different department. This way, we create a groundswell as we go.”
Tips to Carry Out Sales Multi-Threading
Successful sales multi-threading provides the best results when adopted across sales organizations. Here are several tips to implement the approach.
1. Optimize Your Sales Team Structure for Multi-Threading
The way sales teams are structured impacts how well they execute multi-threaded selling, which is typically used more often by teams that handle outbound sales.
“At ZoomInfo, new sales representatives start in inbound roles where they qualify leads,” Hanisko says. “As they phase into outbound roles, we strategically pair them with AEs to help work their open pipeline.”
2. Incorporate Multi-Threading Into Sales Training
Highlighting multi-threading in sales training increases the likelihood that your team will adopt it.
It’s important to establish workflows and arm your sales teams with the best multi-threading strategies.
3. Diversify the Tools Used to Gather Information
Using a diverse sales technology stack to gather information provides your team with a richer picture of your target account and who works there.
Bolster multi-threading with insights from technologies like:
- B2B contact databases
- Professional network sites
- Tools that track corporate news and other developments
4. Define Which Accounts Require Multi-Threading
Not all accounts have equal standing. A multi-threaded approach might be limited by the size of the account in question.
“If it’s a smaller company, we wouldn’t necessarily be looking for different sales teams in different regions, but might still try to bring in other departments or points of contact,” Hanisko explains.
5. Collaborate on Account Contacts as a Team
Having regular internal meetings between account reps and managers keeps everyone on the same page about any contact updates. This communication extends the knowledge about relationships within target accounts.
6. Stay Informed about Organizational Changes
Organizational moves at target accounts often lead to shifting priorities and needs.
Stay on top of any changes at target accounts, such as new funding rounds, leadership promotions or hires, additional office openings, or news about the organization. Doing so ensures that your team can make informed decisions while engaging with these accounts.
A multi-threaded sales approach is an essential, but often underutilized framework for modern sales organizations. It enables sales teams to take a highly strategic and informed approach when approaching new accounts and helps them win more deals.