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  • Mercer Smith-Looper

Multi-threaded deals: what they are and how to close them

The world is changing, and the world of sales is changing along with it. Two years ago, the average number of people involved in a deal was 5.4. Now, it’s 6.8, and the players come from every team imaginable. With so many people involved, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get an agreement on anything other than saving money and avoiding risk. The term for these complex sales is multi-threaded deals.  What are multi-threaded deals? The idea of multi-threading comes from software: multiple threads exist in a single program to make processes run more efficiently and independently. It’s similar in sales:…

The world is changing, and the world of sales is changing along with it. Two years ago, the average number of people involved in a deal was 5.4. Now, it’s 6.8, and the players come from every team imaginable.

With so many people involved, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get an agreement on anything other than saving money and avoiding risk. The term for these complex sales is multi-threaded deals. 

What are multi-threaded deals?

The idea of multi-threading comes from software: multiple threads exist in a single program to make processes run more efficiently and independently. It’s similar in sales: you have numerous communication threads running synchronously to achieve a superior sales process for both the client and your team. 

When you multithread a sales deal, you uncover and involve multiple stakeholders on your prospect’s team and match them with members of your team. It creates a multifaceted, dynamic sales process that’s immune to many of the risks of a more typical sales strategy.

Why should you use multi-threaded deals?

In a recent study, the average number of engaged prospects across closed/lost deals was 1.002. On deals that were closed/won, however, the average number of active prospects was 1.533. That is an increase of almost 50%. Essentially, the more people you engage, the more likely your deal is to pan out closed/won.

Beyond that, decision-makers are undoubtedly crucial in the sales process, but they are not the end-all-be-all. Just as with stock, diversifying can be critical to a successful sale. The average annual turnover rate, as of 2016, was 19%. The more people you have involved in the sales process, the less likely you are to lose out because your decision-maker left.

Lastly, even the most influential individuals still require a common consensus among their team. Especially as tools become more intensely cross-functional, it’s unlikely that there will ever be one true decision-maker. So, why not engage all people that could potentially impact your deal ahead of time?

How to develop multi-threaded deals

As with any sales process, there are a few steps to successfully complete a multi-threaded deal. Following a process as you go through the journey can help ensure no steps are missed.

Prospect

As you are prospecting, try to ask questions that help you understand the following: 

With those questions, you’re able to know how to move forward. Closeout the conversation by making mention of the various teams the prospect mentioned during the call. For instance: “Thanks for your time today. In general, we’ve found the sales teams are interested in [specific feature], whereas the product teams get a lot of use out of [specific feature]. Does it make sense to bring on [team leaders’ names’] to our next call and the demo?”

Start to connect the dots right from the very start.

Demo

When you’re confirmed for a demo call with your decision-makers, prep yourself by reviewing what the priorities for each of the teams are. You have to speak to individual goals while still validating the needs of the company. After you finish the demo, follow-up by reiterating the value they saw in your product and the next steps. For instance:

“[Product lead], I saw you really appreciated [X features]. [Sales lead,] I saw you found a lot of value in [Y and Z features]. I’ve done a lot of work with other customers who also found value there. That said, I know everyone is working with different priorities and timelines. I’d love to set up some time to talk with our [Product lead] and our [Sales lead] because I think they’d have some interesting takes to share with you. Does that sound good?”

Let them know that you’ll connect them with people at their same level within your organization, and set expectations for the next steps in the process. They’ll appreciate the transparency and feel privileged to connect with comparable members of your team.

Set the table

Now that you’ve gotten the buy-in of the various team members on the prospect side, it’s time to prepare your team for what’s coming. Communicate with each of your point people what the individual groups’ priorities are and overall company goals. Let them know how to get in touch with the prospect’s team members and make sure they do it.

You’ll be running the conversations with your deal influencer, but coordinate the success of your other teams as well to make sure things go as smoothly as possible.

What not to do?

Figuring out what you’re supposed to do can be helpful, but what about all of the potential pitfalls along the way? If multi-threaded sales are new to you, here’s a map of the traps that some salespeople fall into.

  • Starting the multi-threading process too late. If you don’t start the process right from the get-go, it may be too little too late. Trying to bring other team members into the call late may delay or even derail the entire sales process.
  • Not connecting the right people. If you don’t do your due diligence, you may not understand the best people to connect between the two teams. Make sure to introduce the right people, or else your multi-threaded deal may collapse.
  • Ditching your initial contact. Even if you’re excited about all of the other connections, never ditch the original person you contacted. They may not be the ultimate decision-maker, but they are the one that got you in the door. Continue to nurture that relationship.
  • Trying to meet each of the individual needs of each stakeholder. A multi-threaded sales process is about the company, not the individuals. To get a group of people to say “yes,” you need to focus on what benefits all of them, not what helps each individual. Focus on meeting organizational needs rather than chasing individual preferences.
  • Not engaging everyone on the call. If team members on the call have remained silent the whole time, call them out by name. Never leave a person unengaged on a call.
  • Not ensuring follow-up. At the end of every call, make sure to list the next steps and move on to them. As soon as you hang up with the prospect, speak with your internal champions, and get everyone on board.
  • Not taking time to understand their priorities properly. The critical aspect of the multi-thread sales process is understanding the company’s holistic need so you can speak to it from every angle. You need to understand the company’s priorities as clearly as possible to be effective.

The more, the merrier

It’s time to uplevel your sales process. Work to identify critical teams that are stakeholders in your prospect’s organization. Learn what your product’s value props are for each type of person and speak about them from the get-go. 

Then, when you get someone on the phone, be quick to identify where you can help them and who you’re going to introduce them to to get the process started. Take ownership over making sure conversations happen. You know the best people to connect—teach them, and give them the background they need to succeed.

Remember: there is such a thing as being too late. Start early, and cultivate the multi-thread process often. Throughout the prospecting, demoing, and sales process, you should have multiple lines open across both companies. It’s always more fun to celebrate with company. 

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