The Four Networks of Sales

Part 2: Enriching relationships through multithreading

July 17, 2020

In this four-part series, we examine the professional networks of four different sales professionals. Using LinkedIn’s vast network data of over 690 million users, we took random samples of sales professionals in the prospecting, nurturing, maintaining, and leading functions, then set out to analyse the uniqueness of their professional networks that make them become better sales professionals.

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Multithreading in the Relationship Manager network

In the first part of this series, we looked at the importance of weak ties and how diversifying connections widely can be successful, particularly for Account Executives in the prospecting function. However, not all members of the sales team need to establish unique, wide-ranging and diverse connections. A strong sales team will have members who nurture these leads into customers, ensuring that the initial connections established will successfully bear results.

This time, we're pivoting from building connections wide, to building connections deep. We look at the role of the relationship manager, and the importance of having strong and durable ties with client companies. Consider the model network below, where a relationship manager has three client companies, depicted by the blue, yellow, and red clusters. Ideally, the relationship manager should aim to have multiple contact persons within each of these client companies, a concept that we call multithreading.

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Figure 1. Ideally, relationship managers should have multiple contact persons for each company, a concept we call multithreading.

Multithreading in today’s competitive selling environment is crucial for two reasons. First, it builds trust and secures a valuable relationship with the client. In our State of Sales Report 20201, we found that trust is the top quality that decision makers desire in a salesperson, and that 56% of decision makers are likely to consider a product or a service if the sales professional has a clear understanding of their business needs. The more connections you build with the client company, the more fully you’ll understand their business, and the more you’ll be viewed as a trusted advisor who can solve their challenges. Second, at a time where there are about 7 decision makers involved in every B2B purchase decision, but also 1 in 5 decision-makers turnover every year2, multithreading can ensure continuity in the sales process, and reduces the reliance on that one contact who may leave the company at any time.

A Real-life network of a Relationship Manager

Let’s look at the real-life LinkedIn network of a senior relationship manager with a decade of experience. In Figure 2, we can see that the Relationship Manager is connected to 8 companies, depicted by their coloured clusters. However we can also see that 6 of these clusters are connected to the relationship manager by a single thread. This means that, the salesperson is at risk of losing the connection with the company should that one contact leave. In aggregate, LinkedIn data shows that 78% of deals amongst all sales professionals are single-threaded or less3.

Meanwhile, multithreaded accounts win more – our data shows as much as 34% lift in win rate when accounts are multi-threaded versus single-threaded4. In our real-life network in Figure 2, there are only two companies that have multithreaded connections. Imagine the missed opportunities and the deals lost when relying on just a single company contact.

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Figure 2. Currently, most relationship manager deals are single-threaded; but multithreaded accounts win more.

Action points:

Begin by asking, “How many points of contact do I have for every client company?” Having one contact within the client company is certainly not enough, but it is a good start. Use the Sales Navigator InMail tool to facilitate warm introductions that can open your network to multi-threading. 

Other tools such as Advanced Lead & Company Search, and Lead Recommendations can also help accelerate your search for more threads in your client organisations.

Then, to foster stronger ties with your client companies, our real-time sales updates allows you to set up alerts so that you receive news on companies or people as they happen. Making your mark in the social network by sharing timely and relevant insights also help in gaining trust and influence from your customers. Gating your content through our Smart Links tool can help you track your engagement metrics for your target audience, and understanding your customer preferences can help personalise follow-ups.

In the next part of this series, we’ll expound further on the benefits of multithreading when maintaining relationships with clients, particularly visualising the network of a successful customer success manager.


1 LinkedIn State of Sales Report 2020.

2 LinkedIn’s Definitive Guide to selling to multiple decision makers.

3 LinkedIn blog on "Relationships matter even more than you realise"

Linkedin blog on “Relationships matter even more than you realise”

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