How to Use a Multi-threading Approach in B2B Sales
October 4, 2013
Does your business have major accounts that hinge on one or two personal relationships in the purchasing enterprise? If your answer is “yes,” then it’s important for you to realize that this represents enormous risk to your organization -- risk you need to act on now to minimize. Why? Because those one or two key contacts can very easily be promoted, transferred or fired, and suddenly you may find that the relationship between your businesses is actually quite shallow.
One of the biggest obstacles to maintaining a productive dialogue with business customers is losing contact with the “influencers” in the purchasing organization. Fortunately, this obstacle is entirely avoidable. What follows are a few vital points to keep in mind when you engaging in B2B selling, whether you’re handling new or existing accounts.
- People move around within organizations and/or their responsibilities change over time. The person who is intensely involved in the initial buying decision may not be involved in the operational aspects of implementing your solution. Or they may have simply moved on.
- Today's decision-making process generally includes a number of stakeholders. While there is still one person who gives final approval, the decision-making process spans multiple individuals and teams. CSO Insights' 2012 Sales Performance Optimization Study shows that, on average, firms report that they deal with at least four individuals to close a sale.
- Even individuals who possess significant authority still have to build consensus within their company to get approval to move ahead with a purchase (i.e., your sales opportunity). In some cases, this simply takes too much effort and they move on to slay a different internal dragon -- which may be fine for them, but is bad news for your rep's sales opportunity.
- Your company’s reps should be very clear about who the buying “influencers” are, and how their function within their business relates to other operational areas. Each of the individuals involved in the buying decision probably talks with at least one other person within their firm before making the decision.
- Once your reps have a clear map of the network of influencers, deciders, and stakeholders within the organization, their sales strategy should focus on helping their most influential contacts build the internal case for the purchase. The sales rep needs a sound understanding of the company’s internal process in order to give the “influencers” plenty of useful material so they can get all their stakeholders on board.
Future contact with the business will be enhanced by this understanding of the customer’s internal network, since even with the natural flux of personnel, you will have some members of the company’s network who remain in place. Furthermore, if the functions of the “influencers” are clearly understood, it’s possible to establish contact with new people who perform the same function as the individuals you knew previously. Also, if the original buyer is not involved in implementing your solution, this won't present an obstacle, because you’ll know how to reach the right person.
The software concept of “multi-threading” is a useful metaphor here, since it refers to a model that allows multiple threads to be followed within the context of a single process. Your company’s reps can develop a “multi-threading” approach to maintaining contact with the networked teams of buyers in the firm that you are selling to. By using this strategy, your sales rep can activate the internal structure of the buyer’s network in order to help the purchase decision gain momentum.