Since joining LinkedIn as Head Of LinkedIn Sales Solutions In EMEA back in July this year, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a large number of our clients ranging from multinationals employing thousands of customer-facing staff to SMBs using social media to effectively grow their business locally.
Throughout all these conversations one worrying theme has emerged; one that shapes the relationship we at LinkedIn have with our customers, and how we advise them to think about their own.
It turns out that most business leaders vastly overestimate how well connected their teams are with their client organisations. Not just by a little, but by a lot.
At LinkedIn we have access to unique data on the relationships between professionals and organisations. One of the areas we’re increasingly supporting clients in is helping them identify the most relevant companies for them to do business with, and map out the appropriate decision makers within those organisations. We can also show companies how well they’re faring compared to their peer set.
It turns out business leaders have an incredibly optimistic view of the world, and their teams are far less connected than they think. This perception gap should worry CEOs and marketers. How well connected you are with your clients will have a direct impact on your ability to hit your revenue targets.
MORE COMPLEXITY, MORE CHURN
A frequently-cited stat from the CEB is that there are an average of 5.4 people involved in today’s B2B purchase decisions. Driven by a decentralisation of organisational structures, these people are likely to be distributed across different divisions, functional areas and even geographies. They will have different agendas, motivations, and preconceptions. Failing to build strong ties to one of these people could see important deals collapse.
What’s more, it’s well understood now that the job for life has gone. Our data shows that the typical CMO or CTO is likely to be in their role for 29 months, and one in five decision-makers is likely to leave their position every 12 months. Companies who might have once relied on the relationship between their top salesperson and their top client have quickly found that strategy is no longer viable. If your main contact is one of those on their way out of the door, you could find yourself rapidly writing down your next forecast.
And that’s just the churn on the client side.
Sales professionals are even more likely to change jobs compared to the average professional, with one in four likely to move onto new pastures within a year. Added together, these factors could be putting up to 40 per cent of a company’s revenue at risk. With more churn than ever among sales and client teams, it’s time for companies to adopt a new way of thinking about their client relationships.
Despite the name, multi-threading has nothing to do with needlework. Instead, this is the strategy we at LinkedIn take to all our client relationships and a strategy we advise all our clients to adopt. It’s a simple principle based on establishing multiple touch points between your organisation and that of your client.
So how can sales teams go from point-to-point to more matrixed relationships?
The cause that I’m most passionate about in my role at LinkedIn is the modernisation of selling. At its heart is using social media to take the heavy-lifting out of managing these newly complex relationships to increase productivity, be it LinkedIn or whichever social platform your clients happen to be engaged in professionally. Social media is the best way to quickly and easily see clues that provide opportunities to engage and foster relationships, from a profile update indicating a promotion, to someone sharing an industry news story that you have a useful perspective on. It also makes it far easier to spot mutual connections and leverage your network for relevant introductions.
OFFENSIVE, NOT DEFENSIVE
Multithreaded relationships built on social media aren’t just a way to defend against risk. It can also be a hugely powerful tool for business growth: every time a contact moves to a new role within a new company, you gain a potential new client.
For a company with 50 clients and five key relationships within each of those organisations, this could result in up to another 50 new prospect targets each year, just by mapping and establishing the right relationships.
I’m not advocating that marketers become any less optimistic - the world has never been more in need of optimism - but I do encourage you to think about what would happen if your most successful salesperson left your organisation, or your most vocal sponsor at your biggest client moved roles. If either – or both – prospects fills you with unease, then it’s time to get serious about multi-threading.
This article was originally posted on LinkedIn.com
Founded in 2003, LinkedIn connects the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful. With more than 450 million members worldwide, including executives from every Fortune 500 company, LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network on the Internet. The company has a diversified business model with revenue coming from Talent Solutions, Marketing Solutions, and Premium Subscriptions products. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, LinkedIn has offices across the globe.