Any salesperson will tell you that being single-threaded is one of the biggest risks you subject yourself to in any given deal.
Your champion leaves...
The people that matter don’t understand why your solution is important...
You’re reliant upon someone who knows a cursory amount about your product to sell it internally...
There is no shortage of reasons why being single threaded is a bad idea, and if you’re pinning all your hopes for success on a single person, well, you’re going to find yourself in trouble really quickly.
Don’t fall into the single-threaded trap. Always strive to be multi-threaded in every deal and see the difference it makes in your success.
Here’s exactly how we do it on our team.
Note: At Troops, we’re building solutions that help salespeople close more deals as a team. Want to know more about how it works? Sign up for a free trial.
1. Go High, Even If It Doesn’t Amount to Much at First
Our primary targets are the highest ranking sales or sales operations stakeholder or officer at the companies we work with.
So, yes, we reach out to the VP of Sales or Business Operations, or whoever is the top dog in the organization.
We call. We email. We follow on LinkedIn and comment on posts to catch their attention.
Often, this initial outreach doesn’t amount to much at first.
Every now and then, we get through to the VP right from the start, which makes the try worth it. We might also get passed off to someone more junior—someone who acts as the first line of defense, and that’s okay too (for reasons we’ll discuss in a moment).
Even if we get no response at all, we want to have a thread open with this top person—one that we can come back to later.
2. Find Multiple Entry Points
We don’t stop after going high. We go lower into the organization too, looking for multiple “entry points” into the account.
For example, when we’re first reaching out to a company, we might reach out to people in sales operations, customer success, and even IT.
These contacts are the beginning of the process, not the end. The goal at this stage is to gather information about what’s happening in the account.
For example, as Craig Rosenberg told us about Marketo, “Marketo identifies roles like Director of Demand Gen and markets to those people first, then works their way onto the CMO’s radar.”
We use the same approach with every company we reach out to.
3. Get Specific Personas on the Initial Call
Most of our sales conversations involve multiple personas and even multiple people in the same department.
For that reason, when we book a discovery call with a new company, we always ask our contacts whether it makes sense to invite additional people on their side—including adjacent personas and more senior members of their team (if we’re talking to someone junior).
That saves us from having to book multiple follow-up calls. It also prevents the very common situation where you have a call with one person who then blocks you from getting access to additional people.
4. Get the Names of Everyone Involved in the Decision
We know in general which titles we usually end up working with, but every company is different.
On the initial call (or calls), we’re trying to map who at the organization will be involved in the decision.
Not just the titles but their actual names.
What happens too often is salespeople will ask, “Who else will be involved in the decision?” but then they accept an answer like: “One of our ops managers.”
If you get that answer, follow up with the question:
“I hate just referring to people by their title. What’s the name of the systems manager you mentioned earlier?”
That’ll give you the ammo you need to reach out to the specific person you need to reach.
Depending upon the access the person we spoke with gave us at the end of the call, we’ll often proactively start a new thread on LinkedIn with those other stakeholders whose names we got—especially if the initial person we spoke with doesn’t schedule a meeting with them on the first call.
It often looks something like this:
I just had a great conversation with (insert name) around a few ways to improve (challenge 1) and (challenge 2).
Are these things that are currently top of mind for you as well?”
This often ends up with us creating a new thread in a polite way that doesn’t make our initial contact feel like we went around them.
5. Empower Multiple Champions
After our initial calls, we’ll start creating a map of the important people we need to cultivate to complete the deal. This is often called the “buying team.”
Once we understand and map out the buying team, ideally using information from our initial prospect conversation (otherwise we guess), we try to figure out how we can get connected to these additional contacts.
An ideal state is a direct introduction from our champion, but if we can’t get a direct intro, other strategies include:
Leveraging executive connections discovered via LinkedIn to 2nd degree connections.
Getting introduced from existing customers.
Researching information to use in very informed cold email, phone, or Linkedin campaigns.
Offering some type of feature (example: a content resource) that makes them feel special in order to start the conversation.
All of these strategies work. It’s really about choosing the one that’s easiest to implement in any situation.
6. Ignore Objections from Those Who Say ‘Only Talk to Me’
A lot of times people will indicate you don’t need to talk to anyone else but them—even if their title is below the power line.
Blindly trusting this guidance is a classic recipe for disaster.
When this happens, we continue to try and develop multiple threads into an organization using the strategies mentioned above. If for no other reason, this process lets us verify that we are in fact talking to the right person.
We’ll do the same when someone says “no” that isn’t at the highest executive level or 100% signing the check.
Always get at least two people to say “No” before deprioritizing an account when you’re operating below the power line.
7. After You Know the Account, Go High Again
As you do this work, you’ll learn details about the company that simply aren’t known by the people at the top.
That’s when you can and should reopen that thread with the VP or the C-level executive you reached out to at the beginning of the process.
Now, you can go back to that initial thread and say, “I’ve talked with these 12 people inside your organization. Here’s what they’re saying about the struggles they’re having. Would you like to hear what I’ve found?”
That’s much more compelling than the generic pitches executives fend off all the time from salespeople who don’t actually know their business.
The Payoff: Deals That Don’t Get Stuck
Going multi-threaded isn’t easy, but it is worth it and prevents stuck deals.
You’ll need to make far more calls, send many more emails, and do far more research than many salespeople ever dream of doing to land a sale.
You might even need to build a team of people to help you solve problems as you move through the process.
But this is what it takes to succeed in today’s environment.
Executives are more protective of their time than ever before. And the people who work for them are extremely cautious about anything that might make them look bad—like recommending your product if it’s just going to be a waste of time.
Being single-threaded is a death trap for deals, which is why we try to proactively prevent it at all costs on our team.
If you want bigger, higher-quality deals from your sales team, I encourage you to do the same.
Note: Troops has built the world’s first Account Based Collaboration experience for sales teams. Learn more and sign up for the waitlist here.