If you’re in sales, then speaking with the decision maker is the ultimate goal of your prospecting efforts. But there can be up to 10 decision makers in today’s B2B purchases. So in this article, we’ll cover how to identify the decision makers in a company, including the questions to ask.
A decision maker is a person who makes strategically important decisions. They possess the authority and expertise to assess available options, weigh the consequences of their choices, and ultimately make a choice that aligns with their goals and objectives.
The decision maker at any company is the person who ultimately decides whether or not to purchase your solution. In a B2B sales cycle, the decision maker tends to hold a C-suite level title, enabling them to “sign the check” without others approval.
When selling to other businesses, it is crucial to present to the decision maker. They are the only people who can truly say “yes.” If you sell to non-decision makers, such as an administrative assistant, they only have the authorization to tell you “no.”
There is nothing more demoralizing for a salesperson than spending an hour or so presenting to someone, just to find out they are not the decision maker. That is why it is crucial to know who the decision maker is and how to adapt your presentation for them.
For instance, selling to a decision maker who is a finance executive requires a different approach than selling to a marketing director. The finance executive may be more concerned about reducing expenses, whereas the marketing director may find increased revenues to be more appealing.
Keep in mind that there may be more than one decision maker for a particular purchase. That makes knowing how to find them all the more essential.
Now you know what a decision maker is, but how do you find them? If you don’t know where to start, you risk wasting time prospecting instead of presenting. Therefore, there is one place you should always start:
There are various tools and platforms used by professionals today. But LinkedIn is the golden standard. It is the world’s “business hub.” If Facebook is the social network for friends and family, LinkedIn is the social network for B2B.
There are two main ways to leverage LinkedIn for identifying decision makers:
Attending industry events and conferences can be a great way to find decision makers. These events provide an opportunity for you to meet people face-to-face and network with the right people in your industry. Plus, if you attend these events consistently enough, you’ll eventually start to build long-term relationships with key decision makers that could be a valuable asset in the future.
You can’t always tell who’s the decision maker by just looking at their job titles. For example, sometimes the person who has the ultimate power to decide isn’t the one with the CEO title. So if you’re unable to find them through other channels, try cold emailing/calling and asking the company directly. This could also be a good option for smaller companies that don’t have a lot of information available online.
Reading blogs and newsletters in your industry can be a great way to find decision makers. Key decision makers are often featured as experts, providing insight into their processes and experiences.
You can also visit businesses in person to look for what you need. Although this may take more time, it could be very effective when done properly. Instead of asking the receptionist general questions, inquire about who would be the best person to talk to concerning your needs. This way, you will have direct access to the decision maker and save time on finding them.
You can also find decision makers through professionals and experts in your industry. Professionals such as consultants, lawyers, and accountants often have direct access to key decision makers in the companies they work for. So look for professionals who work for companies in your target industry and reach out to them for help with finding the right person.
At the B2B level, there is often more than one decision maker involved in a purchasing decision. This is particularly true if various departments will need to implement your product.
In addition, decision makers with final purchase approval may wish to include others as decision makers for morale reasons. Few account executives want to risk implementing a new tool or policy that causes resentment among their employees.
Companies may even have a policy that certain purchases — such as those affecting important business systems or surpassing a predefined dollar figure — must be made by a committee.
When there are multiple decision makers such as in the cases above, it can cause problems for the salesperson. You can gain commitment from one of the decision makers, only for someone else to tell you no.
You should also be aware of influencers within the company. These individuals do not have the authority to be decision makers. However, they influence the decision maker with their input.
Influencers can also increase or decrease the salesperson’s chance of presenting to the decision maker in the first place — such as secretaries (often known as “gatekeepers”).
Job titles are an excellent heuristic — or shortcut — for identifying decision makers. For instance, imagine that your prospects are typically CEOs. Attempting to get an appointment with the CEO will be the right move more often than not.
But don’t rely on job titles as your only prospecting metric. Hunting purely for job titles creates lost opportunities. You may end up skipping over companies that don’t have that particular role listed. Or you could reach out to someone with the seemingly correct title, just to discover they are not the decision maker.
If job titles are not the end-all-be-all, what other information can you use to identify decision makers? The following data can give you clues as to who you should target for prospecting:
If you think you have the decision maker on the phone, you still need to confirm it. Otherwise, you risk presenting all over again to additional decision makers. Here are some qualifying questions you can ask to identify every decision maker that will have input on the purchase:
You can’t make a sale until your proposal makes its way directly to a company’s decision maker. But in B2B, identifying the decision maker requires strategic planning and good questions. So ensure you implement the tips above to decrease prospecting time and streamline your overall sales process.