Are you losing valuable deals because your account relationships are single-threaded?

This happened to one of our clients, a large publishing company. The client came to us last year and told us they had lost a $1 million client because they were single-threaded. They said that if we could train their sales team on how to avoid that pitfall and prevent such a loss from happening again, our program will have paid for itself many times over.

What does it mean to be single-threaded?

Being single-threaded means you’ve only developed a relationship with just one person at an organization. Our client isn’t alone—many sales reps are single-threaded. But what if that person leaves the organization or moves on to another department? As you can see from our client’s example, being single-threaded can cost you deals—and a lot of money. But how do you avoid being single-threaded? By socially surrounding your accounts.

What is social surrounding?

Social surrounding is a process where you take one account that you either want to do business with, or that you’re already doing business with, and you develop more than one relationship within that company. To take it a step further, you need to develop relationships with the key decision makers in those organizations.

To get started, there are four key things you need to do.

1. Identify the key decision makers.

The first step to social surrounding is to identify the key decision makers in the organizations you’re already working with, or that you’d like to work with. In my work at Sales for Life, for example, if I’m selling to large organizations, I’d need to develop relationships with the VP of Sales, the VP of Marketing, the CMO, CEO or CFO, and anyone on the sales enablement team. Those are the key decision makers for our business.

2. Follow those individuals and their company on LinkedIn.

After you’ve identified the key decision makers, you need to follow them and their company on LinkedIn.

3. Add those individuals and their company to a Twitter list.

Just like LinkedIn, you need to add these individuals and their companies to your Twitter list.

4. Create a Google Alert.

Creating Google Alerts allows you to receive notifications if any of these key decision makers are mentioned in the media.

Building relationships

I should warn you that social surrounding works better for some organizations than others. For example, computer software and IT companies have more online activity than healthcare or government services business.

But once you’ve implemented these four steps, you’ve increased your visibility on the activity in that account. You’ll be up-to-date on what is happening with the key decision makers and their organizations.

Now you have many more opportunities to reach out, get a foot in the door, and gain visibility with these people—and you’re ready to start building those relationships.

How do you start building these relationships? Say one of the decision makers you currently don’t know starts sharing content on social media. You now have the opportunity to “Like” or “Comment” on that content. In doing so, you start to gain visibility and traction with that individual.

It’s a graduated process over time. It won’t happen in one interaction. But over several interactions with their social media postings, you can then initiate a conversation. From that conversation, you can add them to your 1st degree network on LinkedIn, then book a discovery call. You’re now fostering a new relationship within that account.

For new accounts, you’ll have an increased capacity to build relationships because you have more visibility with more decision makers within the account. They know who you are and what your value proposition is.

For existing accounts, you’ll have deeper account penetration instead of being single-threaded. If the person you’re connected with leaves the organization, moves to a different part of the organization, or other unforeseen circumstances occur, your deal is in jeopardy, because your connection was the only person in the organization who was invested in working with you.

Don’t make the same mistake as our client. Being single-threaded is pitfall you want to avoid. By socially surrounding your accounts, you’ll develop more relationships in that one account and keep the deal.


Dave Howe

Author: Dave Howe

Dave is a gifted salesman with a passion for training. Having started from humble roots as a doorknocker in Australia, Dave quickly excelled over his decade long sales and marketing career to hold several VP and Director level positions. Prior to joining the Sales for Life team, Dave was involved with start-ups; building and training their sales teams from the ground up.

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