Ditch the Single-Threaded Approach, Win the Consensus-Based Sale

Learn why it's vital to connect with your prospect's influential colleagues.

July 12, 2016

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At times, we all wonder why our sales pitches didn't pan out. Everything seemed to be going right: we outlined the value of our offering, developed a strong relationship with the prospect, and felt that a deal was imminent. Then… nothing.

As it turns out, we may have just been barking up the wrong tree. Often times, the prospect we were talking to may not have enough sway within his or her organization.

Managing Multiple Decision-Makers

In fact, any single person may not have the authority close the deal. These days, a committee of more than one makes most buying decisions. According to research by CEB, an average of 5.4 decision makers are involved in B2B purchases.

So it's incumbent on sales teams, the experts say, to take a multi-threaded approach—or piggybacking on one initial contact to get in touch with the key power players at your prospect's company. Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing calls this strategy "land and expand."

"The goal is to identify power base, and power is not a person, it is a state of being," said Dan Ross, the director of sales operations for Optimizely, which sells A/B testing technology. Translation: the key to sales is understanding the dynamics of that organization, finding out who is located above, below, to the right and left of your contact.

LinkedIn, along with other social networks, is uniquely positioned to help you do just that. You can identify these power players, connect with them, and follow along as company and personal news unfolds.

Here's how LinkedIn's features can help.

Understand Sales Navigator

Before Ross became a multi-threading advocate, he learned a big lesson on the dangers of a single-threaded approach. One of his sales reps had been trying to sell to a prospect for six months and the deal was going nowhere. He later learned that the rep's contact was just interested in having a nice conversation. If the sales rep had found the right influencers in that company, Ross and his rep may not have had to lose all that time.

Ross's sales rep may not have been using Sales Navigator, which enables you to use advanced search to find the executives most relevant to you, keep track of new leads, and save time in the sales process. Note that, of course, you don't need Sales Navigator to multithread, and you can hunt for prospects with a standard LinkedIn account—Sales Navigator simply streamlines this process.

Identify the Right Decision Makers

Koka Sexton, LinkedIn's head of social media, instructs us how to use Sales Navigator to hunt for key decision makers. You can use search tools to find leads by industry, seniority level (terms like VP and director are often in influencer's titles), and tenure at the company.

Once you've saved the leads you want to follow, you can receive real-time intelligence as to any new jobs they have, new posts, or personal milestones—all of which will help turn your multi-threading strategy into action.

Use Advanced Features

Sales Navigator also utilizes some powerful data to help you make the right connections. It relies on TeamLink to identify the strongest connection between your coworkers and a prospect, integrates with CRMs like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, gives you up to 30 InMail credits each month, and allows you to see who viewed your profile in the past 90 days.

Clearly, it's insufficient to focus your sales efforts solely on your initial prospect. It's time to find his or her influential colleagues that can better position you to close a deal.

If you'd like help converting your team to this idea, we put together an eBook with research on how buyers make decisions and advice from sales leaders on how to execute a multi-threading strategy.

For all that intelligence and more, download our eBook, Strategies for Selling into Multiple Lines of Business.