When doing B2B sales, it is tricky to ensure you’re talking to the right people. Even the best sales pitch won’t do any good if it’s delivered to someone without decision-making power at the target company. To avoid these situations, your sales steps need to be able to identify the decision-makers.
By going to the decision-makers first, you can drastically improve efficiency in your sales cycle. Decision-makers are certain employees of the target company who have actual buying power. They have the ultimate authority over which purchases the company or department makes.
It’s similar to selling to a household. You need to aim your pitch at the family member controlling the finances rather than the children or the mother-in-law. To do otherwise is a waste of your time and theirs.
Sometimes you can’t automatically pinpoint the decision-makers. You need to make the most educated guess possible when picking out a decision-maker. If you pick the wrong person, you could lose the business entirely.
Keep reading to learn the best way to find a company’s decision-makers and the five types of decision-makers. This information will help you plan your sales strategy.
Steps in Finding the Decision Makers of a Company
Identifying the right people to talk to when doing B2B sales can be tedious and time-consuming work. You may not know where to start.
There are four key steps to discovering the decision-makers in a company. You may not always be able to pinpoint the right person. But, these steps will help you get close. You may also find the decision-maker after the first step, so you need to do your due diligence.
1. Leverage Connections
The first step in finding the decision-makers of a company is to network on LinkedIn or other sites. See if you or any of your colleagues have connections with employees of the target company. If so, reach out to them and ask who the company’s decision-makers are.
You may often find the profiles of decision-makers on LinkedIn. If you can’t find the decision-makers directly, your connections may point you in the right direction.
Your connection may not be able to send you to the decision-maker directly for one reason or another. But getting the information or connecting with someone who has that information is a big help. If you can’t find common connections or those connections turn out to be fruitless, go to step two.
2. Map the Organization
Mapping the organization will help you make a more educated guess as to who the decision-makers might be. For publicly traded companies, search for their 10-K filing. Otherwise, use Sales Navigator and do some detective work.
A growing number of companies keep a public organization chart or social media that links to most employees. You will most likely find decision-makers in these places, along with their contact information. You can also check the company’s website.
Many companies keep a list of key figures on their website, listing their roles and possibly their contact information. If not, or if you can’t narrow down your list further, visit the profiles of possible decision-makers.
3. Look at Profiles to Narrow it Down
Viewing the profiles of potential decision-makers can help narrow down who to pitch to. Look for two key factors: length of service and endorsements.
Length of service will tell you who has seniority. The more senior employee is more likely to be a decision-maker than a new hire of the same title. That way you can narrow down your search if you have multiple people with similar roles.
Skills and endorsements listed on their profile will tell you the target’s qualifications. Look for management skills, which can indicate someone who’s in charge. If nothing else stands out, look for skills and endorsements related to your product or service.
4. Start an Outbound Campaign
Whether you know who the decision-makers are at this point or not, you can now begin your outbound campaign. If you have a list of possible targets, all the better. Start by deciding how you will approach this campaign.
The two primary approaches are top-down and bottom-up. Going from top-down involves starting with the CEOs and VPs and going down from there. Bottom-up is the opposite, starting with sales reps and going up to gather majority support.
Either approach should get you to the right people. Avoid making your sales pitch until you get to those people, however. You don’t want to do all that work, just for someone who isn’t a decision-maker to shut you down.
In general, you will be looking for the key people in a company. Their title usually depends on the size of the company. The decision-maker is farther from the top the bigger the company gets.
If you can’t find contact information, there are several tools you can use to dig up email addresses. Some require the prospect’s name but others don’t. Which tool you use depends on what you have already and what you need.
Avoid giving your sales pitch until you’re sure you’ve reached a decision-maker. Better yet, try to identify which type they are and adjust your pitch accordingly. Read on to find out about the five types of decision-makers:
The Five Types of Decision Makers You Need to Know
Once you find a decision-maker in your target company, you need to tailor your sales approach. To do this, you need to know what type of decision-maker he or she is. According to Miller-Williams Incorporated’s two-year study of executives, there are five types of decision-makers.
To have the best chance at making a sale, you need to understand the five types. In this section, we will list each type, define them and explain how to best sell to them.
1. The Deep Thinker
The Deep Thinker is guarded, a reader, and a researcher. Deep thinkers are careful about how they approach potential risks. They ask questions and respond best to logical arguments.
Deep Thinkers want to know everything before they make a strategic decision. Selling to them is an in-depth process.
To get them to buy, deep thinkers need to feel like they made the decision themselves. Rather than drawing conclusions for them, lay out all the information and let them connect it. If you can imply a strong point, they will see it and be more likely to buy.
2. The Skeptic
The Skeptic is someone who is mistrustful of anything they don’t know. They prefer to stick to what they’re used to. They trust their own experience and are suspicious of anything that contradicts that.
The best way to sell to a Skeptic decision-maker is to gain their trust. Sometimes, all it takes is to present yourself as having similar views and personalities to them. Other times, you will need to get the recommendation of someone the Skeptic already trusts.
Avoid contradicting the Skeptic directly. Instead, present your correction as an invitation to be corrected. Skeptics dislike being confronted with cognitive dissonance and hate to be wrong.
3. The Follower
Followers are cautious, thorough, and responsible. They will only try something new if it’s already seen proven success. They respond well to statistics and success stories.
To sell to a Follower, focus on how well the product you’re selling has worked for others. Use customer testimonials, especially those from trusted individuals within the market if possible.
Followers want to find the best solution to their pain points. They also want to get as close to a guarantee of success as possible.
They are results-oriented and seek out case studies and documentation. They want proof and won’t take a step without it. To succeed with this type of decision-maker, you must present the proof they’re looking for.
4. The Controller
Controllers need to feel like they’re in control at all times. They are often detail-oriented and concerned with accuracy. They dislike uncertainty and need trustworthy information to avoid making a poor decision.
To tailor your approach to a Controller, present the data and all the details. Use expert testimonials, or have a colleague with expert knowledge present the product if possible. Controllers need to know they are making the right decision, so they look at decisions from all angles.
Controllers also need ample time to consider the facts before making the right decision. It is crucial to avoid rushing them, as doing so may cause them to shut down. Instead, give them all the information you can, then give them space.
5. The Charismatic
The Charismatic is perhaps the trickiest type of decision-maker to sell to. They are excitable but fickle. They will forget an older approach in favor of something new, focusing on the new thing until it isn’t new anymore.
However, it can be difficult to get them to commit to anything. To make a sale to a Charismatic, you must maintain their enthusiasm as long as it takes. You need to present the exciting parts of your pitch but also give them a grain of salt.
Make sure to pace yourself. Undersell the exciting parts and explain the downsides. Doing so will keep the Charismatic confident in you without wasting all their excitement before they buy.
When dealing with many companies, you will only need to convince one person if you find the correct decision-maker. However, you need to hone your skills to prepare for group decision-making situations. You may be dealing with more than one of these decision-maker types at once.
This can be a challenging situation, but knowing how to sell to each type will help. Make sure you know your product or service well and that you can sell it in different ways.
To be successful in B2B sales, you need to identify the decision-makers of target companies. Being able to do so and tailor your sales approach is key. Ideally, you need to know everything you can about the decision-makers and their personalities.
Sometimes it can be difficult to find the decision-makers in the first place. There are a variety of tools salespeople can use to aid in this task, though. LinkedIn is a great resource for hunting decision-makers and company websites often have a list of executives.
However, this tactic isn’t always viable. You may find the title of a potential decision-maker or their name, but not their contact information. It can take some digging to find the right people and how to contact them, but it’s worth it.
Once you have found your decision-maker, you need to know how to approach the person. This means determining what type of decision-maker they are. With this information, you can tailor your sales technique to win them over.
Without tailoring your approach, you could use the wrong sales method and lose them forever. Each type of decision-maker is unique and it’s important for you to treat them accordingly. Doing otherwise will cost you the sale, and potentially a big one.
The B2B selling process doesn’t have to be so tedious, however. At Selling Revolution, we offer solutions and pathways toward long-term growth. Our customizable services focus on channel alignment to marry the advertising, sales and web spheres.
We not only help you find the best talent for your business but also quality leads. Need to improve your sales training strategy? We can do that, too!