Multithreading Sales: How to build a network of champions

The Dock Team
Published
May 8, 2023
Updated
February 13, 2024
TABLE OF CONTENTs
TABLE OF CONTENT

The relationships your Sales team builds are foundational to success. 

But now, a process that once relied on one relationship with a single decision-maker is significantly different. 

Today, sales deal cycles are longer. Closing deals depends on winning the support of multiple stakeholders, departments, and buying groups. The once tried-and-true practice of building one solid relationship is no longer enough.

Instead, multithreading sales relationships to build a network of champions throughout an organization increases the likelihood of your team's success. 

By cultivating multiple relationships across levels and departments with a many-to-many approach, your team will have access to the right decision-makers to navigate the buying process more effectively and ultimately close more deals.

This article will give you 11 practical tips on how to better multithread into an organization.

What is multithreading in sales?

Sales multithreading focuses on creating, nurturing, and building relationships with multiple people across your buyer's organization—rather than relying exclusively on the advocacy of one champion or decision-maker. It takes into account the complex landscape of organizations and the decision-making process. 

But multithreading isn't just about building a network of relationships—it's also about understanding every stakeholder's internal role, overarching goals, and individual or team pain points. 

By establishing connections across departments, your team will be better equipped to tailor your solution to the needs of each stakeholder—ultimately strengthening your proposition.

To win a deal, you have to build consensus across many stakeholders.

Multithreading sales also mitigates the risk of losing a deal. With a one-to-one approach (or single-threaded sales), if that point of contact or buyer champion leaves or is no longer involved in the decision-making process, you may be forced to start from zero or lose the deal altogether. 

Think of a many-to-many approach as a safety net. If a key member of the buying team drops off, the other relationships you’ve built will cushion the blow.

Why should you take a multithreading approach? (And when to start!)

According to research by Gartner on the B2B buying journey, there are 6-10 decision-makers involved in each buying decision.

“More people are involved in the average buying decision now,” says Stephen Ruff, Co-Founder of Champify. “Rewind the clock five years ago, you could go to a VP or somebody with decision-making power, and they would go ahead and make a decision on behalf of everyone.

“Now, you’re probably not even going to be able to get an intro call with a decision-maker. They'll loop in people below them and say, ‘Hey, you guys, take a look. Come to me once you've done your research.’”

“It was already hard to get in touch with one person, but now you need to get in touch with and build consensus among a group. That's a big challenge.” - Stephen Ruff, Co-Founder of Champify

Colin O'Neill, VP of Sales at SetSail, says, "The last 12 months have been incredibly challenging to sell. And a multithreading approach isn't about just getting to the CEO or CFO—purchasing decisions are now made by a committee. 

“Multithreading is vital because it's the only way to determine who your champions are. The ones willing to pound their fist in the room because they need your product." - Colin O'Neill, VP of Sales at SetSail

“It also helps you figure out who the one person in the room saying 'no way' is so you can turn them into an agnostic participant in the decision or, ideally, a lukewarm advocate."

If you only build a relationship with one key decision-maker, you’re leaving the rest of the buying team to do their research without the expert guidance of your Sales team. Or worse yet, it leaves them with the open opportunity to find a different solution altogether. 

In the episode Discovery tip: Multithreading to increase win rates of the Outbound Squad Podcast with Jason Bay, Jason cites research by Gong that highlights when it comes to closed-won vs. closed-lost deals, the average closed-won deal had over 2x as many participants in the second sales call as those on the closed-lost calls. 

The key, he says? Getting more people to show up to that second call with a multithreading approach. 

And multithreading doesn’t start during evaluation or even the intent stage of the funnel. It begins with the research your reps do and questions asked during the discovery to gain clarity on other key stakeholders to build that network.

So when is multithreading most applicable?

  • Enterprise sales: Better understand the organization, how it functions, and who the key players are to continually identify pain points and opportunities as the commitment evolves over a long period of time. 
  • Product-led sales: Leverage enthusiastic power users to connect with other team members or decision-makers to drive the adoption and expansion of your product throughout the org.
  • SMB sales: Align stakeholders in a smaller environment where decision-making is often more collaborative and team-oriented.  
  • B2B sales: Gain a more comprehensive understanding of the pain points and goals in different departments—increasing the chances of producing more champions.
  • High-stakes deals: Mitigate risk by reducing reliance on a single point of contact.
  • Complex deals: Construct a network of buyer champions to help move bigger deals forward—especially during a long sales cycle when one or more decision-makers may not be active or engaged.

Sales multithreading tips & best practices

Now that you understand more about multithreading in sales and when you should execute it as a strategy, let’s talk about some tips and best practices. To successfully implement multithreading as a sales strategy, it’s vital to:

  • Identify stakeholders
  • Create connections
  • Facilitate engagement

Let’s get into it.

Identify stakeholders

The first step towards an effective multithreaded sales approach is identification. Without knowing the right stakeholders, building a network of relationships is impossible. 

So what are some ways sales reps can identify the key players? 

1. Overinvest in discovery 

To identify the stakeholders likely to be involved in the decision-making process, a proper discovery call is vital. Leaving out any of the steps below may lead to insufficient or incorrect identification—hindering the deal's success.

  • Build rapport with your prospect: Work to understand their pain points rather than pushing your product or solution.
  • Ask open-ended discovery questions: Don’t leave space for a simple “yes” or “no.” Instead, focus on asking questions that address problems the prospect is experiencing and their priorities and goals.
  • Dig into the decision-making process: Knowing the steps your buyer’s org needs to close will help your team enable your champions on the front end. 
  • Schedule a product demo: Don’t let the conversation end without summarizing the discussion and scheduling a sales demo.

💡 Tip: Use Dock Workspaces as a one-stop shop to summarize everything learned during the discovery call to avoid repeatedly asking for the same information.

Dock workspaces serve as an artifact of all your sales conversations with a client's team

2. Ask questions about the buying decision

The questions you ask during discovery can help uncover a lot of information you may not find elsewhere. 

To understand the intricacies and key players involved in buying decision, Jason Bay recommends asking questions like:

  • “Who would feel left out if they weren’t involved in this decision?”
  • “When you’ve purchased in the past, how did the buying process work?”
  • “Who was involved?”

3. Leverage your champions 

A buyer champion is the most enthusiastic advocate of your solution within an org. They’re your partner in building internal influence and helping you sell from behind closed doors.

Because they're passionate about what you offer, they'll want to introduce your team members to the right people. Leverage this connection and ask for one-to-one introductions (e.g. introducing your CEO to their CEO) to create a variety of partnerships.

4. Analyze Previous Deals

In product-led sales, your team often has more insight into decision-makers and influencers within an organization. 

Reach out to your team, deep dive into the documentation, and talk to customer success to identify the individuals your team needs to engage with to push the deal forward.

Create connections

As a salesperson, relationships are built when prospects like and trust you, but to get to that point, they have to know you first. After identifying key stakeholders, the next step is connecting with them. 

So let's dive in and explore some effective connection strategies to foster multiple (genuine) relationships.

5. Adopt a multi-channel approach

The first step in connecting with key decision-makers is to contact them personally using a multi-channel approach. 

A multi-channel approach, like connecting over a call, through email, and on LinkedIn, reaches prospects across several mediums—meeting them wherever they're most comfortable. 

(Also, don’t forget to follow up. Sales conversations take time, consistency, and patience.)

6. Build many-to-many relationships 

Rather than one sales rep connecting to a few members of an organization, build many-to-many relationships. 

Introduce and connect members of your organization with their counterparts in your buyer's org:

  • Your CFO should meet their CFO
  • Your VP of Sales should meet their VP of Sales
  • Your marketing leads should meet, etc.

These people speak each other’s language, so they’re more likely to form tighter bonds.

7. Enlist power users

Your power users are already advocates for your solution. Leverage product-led sales to engage them, ask for insight, and offer more training and resources to ultimately create a larger group of power users to champion your solution.

Facilitate engagement

How your team engages and interacts with prospects is the key to moving deals forward. It's also how they differentiate themselves (and your product!) in authentic, valuable, and convenient ways—building the trust that leads to more closed wins. 

8. Make it easier to buy

The average B2B buyer only spends 17% of their time meeting with suppliers, so it's vital for your team to maximize every engagement opportunity. 

Source: Gartner

Your buyer enablement strategy should focus on creating content, tools, and processes that simplify the purchase process for your buyers. 

One way to do this? Curate information for the buying team in one place with Dock.   

Because most B2B buying is about gathering information and doing research, you can help stakeholders make informed decisions in less time and with less effort by creating a space where they can find everything they need—safely and securely. 

With Dock, your team can embed past call recordings, include product deep dives, embed relevant sales collateral and case studies, showcase demos, answer questions, simplify pricing, and more in one professional, organized, branded, and easy-to-access location.

Use Dock as a digital sales room to embed all your sales content in one place.

Here’s a practical example: most vendor selection processes involve vendor risk assessments, but buying teams often don’t see it coming. 

You can get ahead of them with Dock Security Profiles, which let you pre-load all your security documentation from the Dock backend and then pop them into a workspace when needed. This helps reps, compliance teams, and buyers pass reviews more easily. 

9. Provide non-stop value

Another way to develop trust: provide incredible value throughout the buying process. 

Whether it's by sharing a buying guide, webinar invitation, podcast recommendation, or solution to a different pain they’re experiencing, offering something of value demonstrates you're considering best interests outside of the deal.

This makes prospects feel seen, heard, and valued—while establishing your team members as trusted advisors.

10. Clarify next steps with mutual action plans

Mutual action plans (MAPs) are shared to-do lists between Sales teams and buyers. They track next steps and keep deals moving forward. 

Creating a MAP helps both teams avoid unexpected roadblocks and delivers a smoother buying process from start to finish.

💡Tip: With Dock's mutual action plan feature, your team can assign tasks, include descriptions, share links and files, automate due date reminders, and more. 

Dock's mutual action plans let you share action items as to-do lists or kanban boards.

Tools for sales multithreading

The tools in your tech stack will help you engage the right stakeholders the right way at the right time. 

So what are some options your team should consider to successfully implement a multithreading sales strategy? 

Digital sales rooms

Digital sales room software like Dock hosts all the information in a deal cycle in one destination for teams to collaborate with potential buyers.

With Dock, you can also track engagement, share information securely with password protection, optimize information for mobile viewing, and customize the space to fit your buyer's needs. 

Stephen Ruff’s team at Champify uses Dock as a sales artifact as they multithread through an organization.

“If we realize we’re not talking to the right person and need to thread out to a leader in an adjacent department, Dock gives us a great way to do that,” said Stephen.

Rather than making another hard ask for a leader’s time, Stephen uses their Dock workspace as a jump-off point for a conversation. “Instead, we say, ‘Hey, check out this Dock. Here's what we've been working on, and how we're thinking about things. Let me know if you think this is interesting." 

Here's a quick clip of Stephen talking about how he uses Dock for multithreading.

Sales intelligence tools

Sales intelligence and engagement tools like Apollo, ZoomInfo, and LinkedIn Sales Navigator provide data-driven insights to find optimal targets and create personalized outreach campaigns. Use these tools to find the most relevant contacts to thread out to.

Asynchronous communication tools

Asynchronous communication tools are an important aspect of a multithreading sales strategy. And the communication tools your team uses should simplify their workflow and reach stakeholders on their terms.

Tools like Qualified, Truly, and Loom offer opportunities to reach stakeholders wherever they’re most comfortable communicating (and they feel more personalized than emails).

CRM enrichment tools

Champion identification tools like Champify and Usergems can help sales representatives identify CRM contacts who've changed organizations.

Keeping tabs on this data is necessary for maintaining relationships with contacts across organizations—opening the door for new opportunities.

Start multithreading with Dock

With a multithreading sales strategy, your team can build a network of buyer champions to increase sales success. 

If your team is ready to implement a multithreading approach, try Dock to:

  • Share content with multiple stakeholders
  • Track engagement across departments
  • Collaborate with buyers to ensure alignment and clarity 
  • Move deals forward with easy-to-navigate mutual action plans
  • Store all critical information in one professional, secure location

Try Dock’s digital sales room template now, or sign up for Dock for free.

💪 Related reading: How Champify Empowers Buyer Champions with Dock

The Dock Team