Relationships Matter Even More Than You Realize

New analysis confirms that a multi-threaded sales approach drives deal win-rate.

February 20, 2017

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We all know that establishing and maintaining relationships is a key part of sales, whether you are focused on developing new business or nurturing existing business.  If you have ever been part of a deal that has gone cold or lost a key decision maker who has changed jobs, then you’ve learned this the hard way.   In a new study, we’ve analyzed over 600k sales opportunities to better understand how the connections and relationships we establish into an account drive win rate.  Specifically, we analyzed the impact of multi-threading, that is, establishing multiple relationships (6 or more connections on LinkedIn) at an account.

More Decision Makers than Ever Before

It used to be that in most deals there was one buyer and one seller, where you could rely on one decision maker to get the deal done.  These days, a committee of more than one makes most buying decisions.  According to research by CEB, an average of 6.8 decision makers are involved in every B2B purchase.  It’s contingent on the sales professional to take a multi-threaded approach, or establish multiple relationships at an account, so that they are well equipped to manage the deal.

Despite this, the majority of deals are not multi-threaded.  In fact, we found that 78% of sales professionals are connected to one person (single-threaded) or not connected at all into accounts they are trying to close.  Only 7% were multi-threaded, or connected to 6 or more people at their account.  This means the vast majority of deals across organizations of all types and sizes are at risk.

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A Multi-Threaded Sales Approach Drives Win Rate

In our study, we found that sales professionals who adopt a multi-threaded approach are more successful.  On average, those focused on new business had a 34% lift in win rate when multi-threaded versus single-threaded into an account.  

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Not only did those sales professionals have a higher win rate but they also decreased their total deal length cycle by 10%. This means faster deal cycles and more dollars impacted.  

All Multi-threaded Relationships Are Not Created Equal

It is also the quality of the relationships that you develop at an account, not just the quantity, that impacts win rates.  We’ve previously shown that developing strong relationships matter when reaching out to prospects, and in this study we found that it also drives deal win rate.   

Having worked at the same company together or attended the same university are examples of stronger relationships on LinkedIn.  Also, actively engaging with connections through prior InMails, messages, or content on LinkedIn helps nurture the relationships and make them more receptive.

In this study, we found that sales professionals who are multi-threaded (6+ connections) and have at least one strong relationship with one of those connections see an additional 6% lift in win rate versus being multi-threaded alone.  

Last Thoughts

Whether you are focused on new or existing business, developing a multi-threaded sales approach will help you achieve your goals in the near and long term.  These findings demonstrate that nurturing a broad set of relationships on LinkedIn at your target accounts drives increased win rate and shortened deal cycle length.  And remember to take time to deepen the relationships at your accounts—it’s not just about quantity when multi-threading—quality also matters!  Stay tuned for a follow-up blog post specific to sales professionals focused on existing business.

Feeling like trying out multi-threading on your own? We've put together a guide of practical steps for you to reference - download it here


Source: LinkedIn Internal Data. Sales opportunities analyzed from 2015-2016 .  Multi-threading defined as having 6 or more connections into an account to which you are selling.