It’s hard to find an aspect of B2B sales more essential than talking to the right person. You could have the best sales team in the world, and it wouldn’t matter unless you were able to get to the decision maker who can actually authorize the sale.
That’s why companies that kick ass in B2B sales are usually not the ones who are the most aggressive or the ones that use the most cutting-edge sales techniques. Instead, it’s the companies that can get on the phone (or on an email chain) with the person who calls the shots and has the authority to commit to the offer.
But even though most B2B organizations know this, few understand how to have a well-defined strategy for maximizing their chances of talking to the right person.
In this article, we’re going to break down the process of identifying decision makers in any company, going through the essential steps you’ll need to consider and the common pitfalls you should avoid. Ready to get started? Then read on below.
How to Define a Decision Maker
A decision maker is someone who is responsible for making crucial decisions in an organization or business. These are usually executives or other high-ranking employees in a company who have the authority to make decisions on their own or together with a few other people, making them the ones you need to talk to if you want to make a sale to that particular company.
Ideally, this person will be in a C-level executive and have the authority to not only approve the sale itself but also sign the check for the products or services, which can help reduce the number of people you need to get approval from and move the process along faster.
However, identifying these people isn’t always easy. In fact, it’s easy to confuse the gatekeeper with someone who can actually pull the trigger on your offer. You need to be able to carefully evaluate the workplace dynamics in the company and manage relationships with different people as you work towards reaching your goal.
One of the biggest challenges of defining a decision maker is getting past the reliance on title only and understanding the broader context of the company you’re dealing with. Let’s explore this issue in more depth below.
Why Job Titles Can Be Deceiving
As a salesperson, it’s easy to get used to a certain expectation that a job title is directly connected to the authority that a person has on making decisions and writing checks.
While there are certainly correlations in each industry, saying with complete confidence that someone is a decision maker just by looking at their title on LinkedIn or the company’s site is not a reliable and error-proof way of approaching the task.
In fact, it can lead to you spending a lot of time and resources dealing with one person only to learn that you will have to jump through more hoops and start the process anew with another person with whom you didn’t even communicate before.
But why is a job title not a reliable indicator of whether a person makes the decisions?
Well, for one thing, the title that the primary decision maker has can vary significantly depending on:
- The size of the company
- What structure it uses
- Type of product or service you are selling.
What’s more, if you filter the prospective decision makers by job title only, you may narrow your search too much and miss out on other viable candidates that could end up being the people responsible for making these types of decisions.
The good news is that there are many more reliable ways to identify the people you need to talk to. There’s actually a five-step process you can fall back on to develop a consistent strategy that will save time for your sales team and give you the best chance of closing the deal.
Essential Steps for Identifying the Right Person
Successful B2B sales are just as much about preparing for the sales process as they are about executing it. Without the proper preparation, it could be argued that even the best sales practices will go to waste and won’t deliver results.
And the same goes for finding the decision maker in any company you want to work with.
The steps outlined below will help you approach any company with more confidence, knowing not only who the decision makers are but also how to maximize your chances of getting through to them and closing the enterprise sale.
Know the Type of Organization
Each B2B industry has its own unique traits. Even if there are plenty of similarities, the subtle differences are what can separate you from others and allow you to identify the decision makers with much better precision.
Because of that, before digging into the specific company you want to target, you should try to gather as much information as possible about the typical companies you want to work with. This will provide you with a more general understanding of who you should talk to, how to identify them, and where to start your research.
Over time, you should be able to come up with a detailed profile of how your ideal clients operate, their internal structure, and which people will be more likely to act as gatekeepers compared to those that actually make things happen.
By looking at the big picture, you will be able to spot patterns that provide more in-depth insights while also helping you seem more knowledgeable and trustworthy when dealing with each prospective client.
Determine Your USP
Breaking through to the decision makers is not just about identifying them but also about knowing how to get their attention and make them intrigued by what you have to say. And this is where having a solid and well-crafted unique sales proposition (USP) becomes an indispensable asset at your disposal.
The key thing to understand about your USP is that it’s not something you can figure out once and use throughout your marketing and sales efforts. Even though the essence of what makes your company different may remain the same, the way you present it and even the aspects you emphasize can vary significantly depending on who you are dealing with.
But as you dig deeper into the types of companies you want to target, you will also discover the types of challenges they face. And that will serve as a basis for crafting a USP that will help you get through to the key decision makers and make your company stand out from all the others that have reached out before.
If there are multiple decision makers within the company you’re targeting, having a clearly-defined USP will also help you figure out who to talk to first and how to make them your biggest advocate within their company.
Create a Detailed Persona
The big-picture stuff listed above should serve as an excellent basis for digging into the specific clients you want to target. Once you have a company you want to sell to, you can start mapping out the buyer persona of the person who is the most likely decision maker based on all the information you have collected.
And even though the specific details can differ quite a bit, there are common threads that can be used to develop a persona and match it to a person who you think can make the decision to buy from you.
We already talked about how the job title alone isn’t a reliable source of information about who the decision maker might be. However, when you understand the company’s structure, the job title does play an important role and can help you eliminate a lot of people.
If possible, you should also try to identify who is the most likely to handle the budget, as that’s a fundamental responsibility if you want a smooth and frictionless sales process.
Someone who is responsible for the strategy in their department (or even throughout the company) is also a great candidate, especially if your solution helps make something more efficient or solves a problem.
Finally, you should try and identify how long a person has been in a company, as that usually correlates with having more say in the decisions and being more confident in pulling the trigger on your offer.
How to find the Contact Information of the Decision Maker
Once you have a shortlist of people who you think are likely decision makers in a company, it’s time to find a way to reach them to start the conversation about your products or services.
And the good news is that there are plenty of ways to do that, including a few tools that can make the job a lot easier.
Let’s look at some of the tools that you could use below.
Targeting the right people within the company depends on you having all the information you need to make the sale. And a critical piece of information is knowledge about who the decision makers are and how to reach them.
TaskDrive offers comprehensive services that can take a lot of the hard labor associated with gathering that information out of your hands and into the hands of our highly-trained researchers, who will take over the entire process of collecting and analyzing data about any company you want to work with.
You will even gain access to a QA team who will double-check all of the information and ensure it’s 100% correct, minimizing the risk and providing you with in-depth insights you can use with confidence.
TaskDrive also provides customers with their personal customer success manager who will listen to your unique situation, help develop a strategy and provide guidance through every step of the process.
With TaskDrive, you not only get accurate contact information of the key decision makers in the company but also get a complete map of a company you want to work with. This includes extensive business intelligence that can drive the conversations you have with your prospective clients and make your solution as relevant as possible.
Even though TaskDrive offers a range of powerful features, there are simpler solutions that might be suitable if you just need to find the contact information and want to collect all of the business intelligence information yourself.
An excellent example of this type of tool is Lusha, which can quickly source B2B contact and company details. The software works by allowing you to find the phone number and email address of almost anyone on LinkedIn, saving you a great deal of time when you’re ready to get going and just need a way to reach out.
If you want a more unusual way to source contact information about your targets, Pipl might be an intriguing option to consider. Like Lusha, it also provides essential information such as emails and phone numbers, but it uses a deep web search, which can produce more comprehensive results.
For instance, you may also be able to find out the social media profiles of the people you’re trying to reach, which can provide more insights on its own and act as another channel you can use.
Final Step: Qualifying the Decision Maker
At this point, you should have all the data you could possibly gather before reaching out, which should put you in the best possible position for success. However, to confirm that you’re talking to the right person, you will need to speak to them and make sure that’s the case.
You can’t just ask them outright because that can end up offending them and causing more friction as you’re trying to close the sale. But you can ask more subtle questions that will provide you with a lot of insights without rubbing anyone the wrong way.
Let’s look at a few of the most important questions that can help you qualify a lead in under ten minutes on the phone.
- Have you bought products like this before?
- Who was involved in the purchases of similar products before?
- Who will be using the product? Will they want a say?
- What do you need to get this purchase approved?
- What’s your role in the decision-making process?
- How can I help you sell this to your team?
This list of questions is by no means complete, so you should add to it as you gain more experience. But it can act as a good starting point for guiding you in the right direction and helping you get through to the person who can say yes to your offer.
Finding the decision maker in a company you’re pursuing can be the single most impactful aspect of making a sale. If you have a good product and know you can help a company, talking to the wrong person can be the only thing standing between you and an easy close.
If you follow the steps listed in this article and ask the right questions, you should be in a position to quickly identify the person to talk to and know exactly what to tell them to make the sale.