This article is based on a presentation given by Christina at our Customer Success Festival in Boston 2023.

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Mastering the art of multithreading in customer relationships is not just beneficial; it's imperative. This multifaceted strategy is about creating a web of connections that not only supports but also strengthens the customer journey. 

I'm Christina Parra, Senior Manager: Head of Core Segment Customer Success at LinkedIn. My tenure has taught me the irreplaceable value of building robust relationships with various stakeholders. 

In this article, I'll share with you:

Keep reading if you're in the market to learn practical tactics for embedding this approach into your client engagement practices, ensuring every customer interaction is rich with potential and purpose.

Christina’s customer success career journey

I've been with LinkedIn for seven years, but my journey with multithreading began even before that. My career started as a Customer Success Manager (CSM), back when the term was synonymous with an Account Manager. Initially, I worked on trading floors, a unique experience that allowed me to directly build relationships with key individuals—all conveniently located in one room.

However, the shift to software sales introduced me to a more challenging and digital-centric environment. I recall a pivotal moment when a seemingly secured deal fell through because the client went silent, and I had no other contacts to turn to. It was then that I began to leverage LinkedIn to establish multiple connections, a strategy that not only salvaged the deal but also eventually led me to join LinkedIn.

At LinkedIn, I've witnessed the platform's growth to nearly one billion users and have served in various roles—from managing a mid-market team to leading our implementation consultant team. Recently, I’ve been guiding our customer success team across SMB, mid-market, and enterprise segments, overseeing about 40 CSMs. 

Given the ever-changing macro environment, multithreading has become an essential part of our strategy, enabling us to navigate through these changes effectively.

The data behind the importance of multithreading

Diving into the data we've gathered at LinkedIn, the importance of multithreading becomes crystal clear. As CSMs, our focus may differ—some zero in on upsells, others on churn or net retention—but the common denominator remains renewals

A presentation slide with images of two people facing each other. One is labeled "Seller", the other "Key Decision Maker". The text says: "Myth: Reaching out to the most senior decision maker is all you need. But this is perpetuating the problems you have."
Source: Christina's presentation

What we've observed is a tendency for connections to be established with just one decision-maker per account, which is no longer sufficient given the dynamic nature of the market.

The data reveals a compelling shift: on average, there are 11 decision-makers involved in a B2B buying decision. 

It's fascinating to see the variety of roles these decision-makers play. Within any customer's internal decision-making process, whether they use frameworks like the RAPID model–which I highly recommend looking into–or others, the cast includes key decision-makers, influencers, champions, and leaders.

A presentation slide with the image of "The Seller" in the center, with 11 different decision makers surrounding them. The text says: "The reality is that the average sales cycle (including renewals) now requires 11+ people. But most reps are only connected to 1-2 people. Gartner expects sales organizations who multithread to outperform competitors by 50%."
Source: Christina's presentation

The “RAPID” acronym stands for Recommend, Agree, Perform, Influence, and Decide. 

Each letter represents a pivotal role in the buying process. With the current economic fluctuations, every purchasing decision is under increased scrutiny, hence the heightened importance of multithreading. 

It's not just about identifying who these individuals are, but also crafting the right approach to connect with them. 

Now more than ever, it's vital we extensively engage across all levels of our customers’ organizational structure. This includes reaching out to our customers’ managers, their managers' managers, and even departmental entities like finance that are entering the fray of buying decisions. It's a complex web, but understanding and navigating it is essential for our success.