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4 Simple Steps to Find the Decision Maker in Any Company

A big obstacle facing outbound sales reps is making sure they’re talking to the right person, especially if you’re doing targeted account selling/account based selling. If you have the perfect pitch and deliver it to your ideal company but you’re talking to the someone who has zero buying power, you’ve just wasted your time and theirs. That’s why it’s important to spend some extra time finding the right person to get in front of in the first place.

Taking a strategic approach and honing in on the right few people will drastically shorten your cycle time. The spray and pray model rarely works, and often leave you with a bad reputation. Having the right tools in your sales stack can also accelerate work greatly in your favor.

In this post, I’ve outlined a process to help you narrow your search and target the right person you should be pitching. You may be able to find the decision maker right away in step 1 or you may have to go through all the steps to find your target.

This post is meant to be a reference -- bookmark it so you can refer back every time you need to get to the decision maker.

Step 1) Leveraging Common Connections on LinkedIn

Use LinkedIn to find out if you or any of your colleagues have a common connection at your targeted company. If you’re lucky enough to find one, ask for an introduction to someone at said company who is or knows the decision maker. You may be able to avoid outbound all together!

Of course, most deals aren’t going to be that easy. If you don’t have any common connections, move to Step 2.

Step 2) Mapping the Organization

Now it’s time to start mapping the org. If it’s a public company, take a look at their 10-K filing. If it’s a private company, it’ll take little more work. Using advanced searching, Sales Navigator and visiting profiles, you’ll be able to make an educated guess on the likely decision makers and begin reaching out.

If it’s a particularly large company and you have a dozen or more potential decision makers but can’t decide who to pursue, proceed to Step 3.

Step 3) Narrowing Down by Visiting Profiles

With your narrowed list of leads, it’s time to start diving into each individual profile. There are two main things to look for.

Length of Service: Look at how long target prospects have been in their current positions. For example, if a VP has only been at that company for two months but a Director has been there for three years, chances are the Director has more influence and buying power.

Skills and Endorsements: Looking at this can give you a sense of who is qualified to make this type of decision. For example, you can look at tools they use, management skills they possess (like coaching), or the tactical skills someone must have to really understand your product.

Step 4) Starting an Outbound Campaign

By this point, you should have a great idea of who to target, but if you still don’t no problem. Either way, it’s time to start your outbound sales campaign

There are two approaches you can take: top-down and bottom-up.

Top-Down and Bottom Up

In a top-down approach, you will start at the top of the org chart and contact the a VP or another executive to ask for a referral down to the right person.

If they say they are the decision-maker, then great. Now go for your pitch. But don't pitch before you know you're talking to a decision maker. You'll be wasting your time and theirs. This strategy can work well because when you are handed off to the decision-maker, that person's boss literally just told them to talk to you.

It’s also important to note that you should never pitch to a gatekeeper. Two reasons. First, if she says no and denies you access, he/she just made the decision for your target where it wasn’t his/hers to make. Second, it’s the gatekeeper’s job to keep people like you out.

Instead of pitching them, ask this one magic question that is extremely effective yet very simple: “Who is the right person to talk to about [product category]?” Sometimes it’s as easy as that -- don’t overthink things.

In a bottom-up approach, you want to seek enough buy-in from the lower levels of an organization so you can get to the people higher up. This can work well for selling to sales reps, whether they’re SDRs, BDRs, etc. If you can show the sales rep how your product makes their lives easier, you will have an army of salespeople on your side going to their boss on your behalf. Also, SDRs are often willing to give you the name of the decision maker, so just ask!

For more on building your campaign, visit this Hubspot blog post on the critical factors for follow up success.

Bonus Tip

The decision maker's title may vary from organization to organization. As a very general rule, you can make an educated guess based on the company size, which you can find on LinkedIn or CrunchBase.

  • 0-10 employees: The decision make us usually the CEO unless the company has a co-founders in the vertical you are selling into (e.g., CTO for Product, CMO for Marketing) or has already hired experienced VPs.
  • 10-50 employees: VPs generally have buying power here.
  • 50-500 employees: At this size, look for specialized roles, such as Sales Manager, Business Development Manager, etc.
  • More than 500 employees: Find the regional specialized role, such as East Coast Rep, North America Rep, New York City Rep, etc.

Recommended tools:

How you reach the decision maker will likely be different for every company you target, so you need a good process in place. Once you establish that process and hone your ability to get meetings with the right people, you’ll be able to close bigger deals, and close them more often!

Good luck!

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This post was brought to you by PersistIQ.  Our software empowers salespeople to easily convert prospects into a qualified pipeline and create personalized outbound campaigns at scale.  See how PersistIQ can help you make your own sales efforts more effective today.

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