Finding the Decision Maker – 4 Concrete Steps

Every sales rep has been there – you are having very successful conversations with a prospect only to find out they’re not the one you should be talking to… they’re not the decision maker. Finding the decision maker in an organization is a critical step in the sales process, but it’s not always easy. 

Although you often have to deal with gatekeepers or lower-level managers before hooking the big fish, knowing who is going to make the decision in the end, and providing a strong value proposition that matters to them is how the sale is made. To help you out, we’ve listed four concrete steps to finding the decision maker in any organization. 

1. Create a Decision Maker Persona 

It’s hard to find something when you don’t know what you’re looking for, especially when it comes to prospecting. Before you approach a prospect, it’s important to create a decision maker persona to identify the characteristics of your ideal prospect within a company. This includes job title, seniority level, and pain points.

An important thing to take into account when creating a decision maker persona is company size. Depending on the size of the company, you could be looking to target different job titles and seniority levels. You can use tools such as LinkedIn Navigator or Salesforce to find company size before you begin seriously prospecting. For example…

  • Less than 50 employees: In this scenario, you’re probably going to be looking to speak with the CEO unless there are co-founders to speak with.
  • 50 to 250 employees: This size organization usually leaves it up to the VP to sign off.
  • 250 to 1,000 employees: It’s time to look for specialized roles such as sales manager, VP of sales, Business Development Manager.
  • 1,000+ employees: This is the big fish. In larger organizations, you must target much more specific titles such as “East Coast VP of Sales”. Look for location-based titles and start from there.

2. Build a Relationship with Your Champion

As a sales rep you know that oftentimes the prospect who ends up responding or expressing interest isn’t the decision maker. However, that doesn’t mean that they should be ignored or left in the dust. Building a relationship with this prospect allows you to learn more about the organization’s structure, pain points, and what they’re looking for in a solution. 

You can also leverage this relationship to eventually get an introduction to the decision maker. According to Sales Trainer John Barrows, keeping score in a business relationship allows both parties to feel secure and fair in a transactional scenario. For example, if they ask for something like discounted pricing to bring to their decision maker, you ask to be introduced to do it personally. 

3. Utilize LinkedIn

The power of LinkedIn is often underestimated. LinkedIn gives 10 ways a sales rep can leverage the platform. For now,  we’ll focus on the applicable suggestions to find the decision maker.

  • Leverage mutual connections: According to LinkedIn, prospects are five times more likely to engage with you if introduced through a mutual connection. So, respectfully ask your connection to introduce you to one of theirs who is one of your second degree connections and build the relationship from there.
  • Find your top tier customers: LinkedIn is a great research tool. Search by name, company, employee size, and more to find the best prospects and learn who the decision makers are from the start.
  • View prospect activity in real-time: Nothing beats personalization. In fact, according to Salesloft, personalized messages are 2x likely to get a response. Keep an eye on what your prospect is posting and liking and use this information to personalize a message to them.
  • Engage with your customers: Familiarity with your name or company name will also increase your chances of getting a reply back. When surveyed on reasons for clicking on an ad or opening an email, over 60% cited brand familiarity as a major factor in the decision. Engage with your prospects on platforms such as LinkedIn so they know your name when they see your emails.

4. Research Their Company

Study their org chart, look for information on them in the news, try to understand not just their organization but their industry. This information will help you provide a strong pitch backed by solid research. Use the steps above to get an idea of the organizational structure as well. Talking to a champion or doing research on LinkedIn are both great starts to understanding the inner workings of a company to aid you in finding the decision maker.

Finding the decision maker isn’t always easy, but it’s a necessary step towards closing a deal. 

Use the four steps above to locate and learn about your top prospects, build relationships within the company, create a strong value proposition, and close that deal.

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