Key to Closing Leads: Connect with Multiple Decision-Makers

Learn three benefits of building ties with multiple decision-makers—and how to start identifying them.

June 23, 2016

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Your entrée to a prospective client's business may have come from a single person who works there, but that person probably isn’t alone in the buying decision. In fact, the average B2B purchase involves the approval of 5.4 decision makers according to research from CEB.

That may sound overwhelming, but it's actually an invaluable insight. There are several strong reasons for taking a multiple-lane approach to a prospective client. If you only have a single connection at a target company, your deal can easily be imperiled if that person switches jobs or gets too busy to keep things moving. Worse yet, another decision maker with more sway may overrule your initial contact.

You can avoid these pitfalls by embracing a multi-threading approach. That means reaching out to more than one person at the prospective organization and managing multiple relationships to ensure that the deal progresses.

Here are a few key benefits to developing a multi-threading strategy in today's highly networked environment.

1.   Learn the Company's Needs

If you want your client to love your service or product, you'd better understand what the key executives actually want. A multi-lane approach allows you to identify more of the prospects’ pain points, needs, and goals.

Peter Kim, the Director of Relationship Management for LinkedIn, puts it this way: "You need as many voices as possible to influence and educate you on the full spectrum of needs. By going as deep as possible at all levels, across different departments, etc., you acquire a more complete and holistic voice of the customer.” Listening to everyone’s perspective enables you to generate consensus and move the deal forward.

2.   Create Broader Buy-In

By multi-threading, you'll be engaging in a strategy that Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing calls "land and expand"—you start with one prospect who then introduces you to other key influencers. Your ask of the prospect, he says, should not be "in the name of the deal" but rather as a "means of sharing new ideas, best practices, and other value-added information" to more executives.

You'll want to arm the influencers who are on your side with information to convince their colleagues to buy, according to Koka Sexton, LinkedIn's Head of Social Media. These executives often talk to each other before making a big decision; you'll want to equip your contacts with data to surmount any objections raised.

3. Secure a Backup Plan

An anecdote from John Gilman, the VP of Worldwide Commercial Sales at New Relic, exemplifies why developing relationship with more than one contact is so vital. His sales rep was close to winning a deal with the CTO at a big Fortune 15 consumer products company, when the CTO suddenly informed him that he’d be out until the end of the quarter.

According to Gilman, "That meant that the deal was not going to happen in that quarter, and the sales rep was going to miss his numbers. If we had a few other relationships at the company, someone else may have been able to step in and move the ball forward.” If Gilman's sales rep had multi-threaded, he would have had a safety net for just such an occasion—and increased his chances of closing the sale within the quarter.

That's why Gilman now insists his team takes that approach for deals over a certain threshold. “Most of our successful deals have taken a multi-threading approach that relied on multiple relationships with influencers in an organization," he adds.

Executing a multi-threaded approach isn’t just a proven sales strategy—it’s an integral part of social selling: it’s centered around finding the right people, establishing relationships, and listening to your connections to close the deal.

For more training on preparing your team to sell into multiple lines of business, download our Sales Prospecting Toolkit.