How to Break Free of the One-Relationship Habit

Learn why increasing numbers of salespeople are kicking the one-relationship habit and embracing multi-threading to avert risk and close more deals.

January 10, 2015


What is Multi-Threading and Why Are More Sales Pros Adopting it?

As any sales professional knows, relationships are the key to sales success. Salespeople have long relied on building one strong relationship within an organization or account, but new research shows that it’s time to retire this approach.

Growing numbers of sales reps are having success with multi-threading, a term originally coined by software programmers to describe a program or operating process’s ability to “manage its use by more than one user at a time and to even manage multiple requests by the same user,” according to TechTarget’s glossary of computer terms.

Salespeople use multi-threading when they reach out to and create ties with more than one person at a target organization and manage multiple relationships at once to ensure that a deal moves forward.  Peter Kim, Director of Relationship Management at LinkedIn, notes that one benefit of this approach is that it presents sales reps with multiple opportunities to add value to an organization.

The Benefits of a Multi-Threading Approach

More than a third of respondents in Demand Gen Report's 2014 Buyer Behavior Survey reported that the number of team members involved in their company’s B2B buying process has increased, making the need for multi-threading ever more pressing.

“In any given account, you need as many voices as possible to influence and educate you on the full spectrum of needs,” said Peter Kim, Director of Relationship Management at LinkedIn. “By going as deep as possible at all levels, across different departments, etc., you acquire a more complete and holistic voice of the customer.”

Peter Kim notes that one benefit of this approach is that it presents sales reps with multiple opportunities to add value to an organization. At the same time, multi-threading alleviates the risk of relying on just one relationship within the target company.

John Gilman, VP of Worldwide Commercial Sales for SaaS vendor New Relic, discovered the pitfalls of the one-relationship habit the hard way as he was approaching the close of a deal with the CTO of a Fortune 15 consumer products company. At the last minute, Gilman learned that the CTO was going to be out for the rest of the quarter.

“That meant that the deal was not going to happen in that quarter, and the sales rep was going to miss his numbers,” he said. “If we had a few other relationships at the company, someone else may have been able to step in and move the ball forward.”

Gilman’s example perfectly illustrates the need for multi-threading, in part to prevent deals from falling through based on an issue with one relationship within the target organization.

“For deals over a certain threshold, it is unacceptable to come to the table with one person at the target company,” he said. “You need to know who their manager is, who can say yes, and who can say no. Also, you need to know who can help make the deal bigger.”

LinkedIn Sales Navigator has made it easier than ever for sales pros to find the most relevant points of contact and reach out to them directly and credibly in order to form relationships with multiple influencers in a target company.

Download our eBook ‘Strategies for Selling into Multiple Lines of Business’ to learn how to apply a multi-threading sales approach to your accounts to reduce risk and accelerate deals.