"Sorry, I'm not the right person to have this conversation with"

This is a sales objection that is entirely unpleasant and all too common..

A lot of salespeople waste their time nurturing leads that will never convert, even if the product they're selling solves the problems a prospect’s company faces. This happens simply because they aren't in a position to make a purchasing decision.

However, this objection, as well as the entire situation that leads to it, is avoidable.

In this article, we’ve detailed not only what decision-makers in the company look like, but also how to identify and contact them.

Who are decision-makers?

The first step to finding decision-makers is understanding who you’re looking for. Organisations require strategic business decisions to be made in order to continue growing.

This is why they appoint decision-makers: People deemed qualified enough and authorised to make decisions on behalf of a business.

Decision-makers are usually high-ranking employees of the company, whether it be department heads, department managers, and sometimes even C-Level executives.

Because of their responsibility to their teams/ departments, they’re usually involved in finding new ways to improve as many aspects of their work environment as possible. Your product or service helps them achieve just that.

This is generally the case for larger enterprises, where everyone has a defined role and only does what they’re paid for. If you’re targeting a smaller company — or a startup, — you might see that the big boss responsible for making all the important decisions is…

Well, the actual boss, the CEO, or the company owner.

Hence why, when preparing your sales pitch, you need to know the size of the organisation that you’re going to be establishing contact with.

You could find out the the size of your prospect’s company through the companies website and social pages.

Sometimes, the company website will give you an approximate amount of employees working at that company.

However, more often than not a companies size can be accurately gauged by looking at the info on their LinkedIn page.

If all else fails, just call the company and ask! You as a salesperson have a valid reason to request an approximate amount of employees that work for the company.

Why do salespeople need to get in touch with decision-makers? If you contact someone who is not a decision-maker, you will likely be unable to convert that person and win a deal with the company. Decision-makers are the ones that decide where the money is spent.

Strategies to identify the decision-maker

The first thing you should look at when trying to find a decision-maker is the company’s LinkedIn page.

Some ways to find the decision-maker through LinkedIn are…

  • If you are connected to someone from the same company, try messaging them and asking about who the decision-maker is
  • Look at the job titles of people working at the company
  • Make use of the LinkedIn Sales Navigator . Thanks to this tool you’re able to see the decision-makers of the company straight away in the ‘people’ section

Take a look at the company website. Try and find information that could help you understand the company structure. It’s not uncommon for companies to have employees listed in the ‘About Us’ section.

Finally, and if all else fails, just call the company and ask. However obvious this sounds, the front desk would be happy to tell you who you should speak to about your offer.

You should also remember that larger organisations usually have more than one decision-maker. Especially in cases where your product will be used across multiple departments. Some companies even have a rule stating that any major purchasing decision needs to be made by a committee.

Questions to identify a decision-maker

Here are some questions you could ask during a call or email conversation with a company representative to help you identify the decision-maker…

  • Who else is involved in making this decision?
  • Who will the end user of this product be?
  • What’s a typical purchasing process for a product of this category?
  • Aside from your department, what other departments will use this product?

Best practices that will get you in touch with decision-makers.

Once you identify the decision-maker, there's still the issue of finding information, establishing contact, and dodging other gatekeepers you might encounter.

Find the correct contact information

You need to find a way to contact your new-found decision-maker. There are various ways a sales representative can get their hands on contact information, starting with the ones so obvious you might not realise you’re not doing them.

Some different ways to obtain a decision-maker's contact information are…

  • Google the person, duh. As if Google isn’t the go-to for finding information. There is a fairly high chance that just googling the person’s name + the company they work for will yield you some contact information
  • Leverage the power of LinkedIn. LinkedIn is one of the most powerful B2B tools. If you use a CRM with a LinkedIn integration, such as NetHunt CRM, you’re able to automatically scrape data from a decision-maker’s LinkedIn profile
  • Reach out to the decision-maker’s colleagues, especially if you’re connected to them on LinkedIn. Never underestimate the power that a referral could have towards your sales process. If a colleague refers you to the decision-maker there is a high likelihood that you might even end up skipping the gatekeeper.
  • Use dedicated tools, such as Echobot, Hunter and Prospect.io to look up the decision-maker’s email address and phone number. These tools offer instruments such as contact databases, email lists, and prospecting tools.

NetHunt Top Tip: Check out our LinkedIn prospecting guide for additional information on how to find a leads contacts and reach out to them via the #1 lead generation instrument.

Get past the gatekeeper by making friends with them

The gatekeeper is whoever is directly under the decision-maker in the company structure. For example, if the decision-maker is the head of the finance department, their gatekeeper could be the head of accounting.

Here are some tips on how to get past the gatekeeper…

  • Connect with others from the company on LinkedIn, making sure to mention it to the gatekeeper during your conversation
  • Be polite and exude confidence
  • Ask for the decision-maker’s information by first name only
  • Try to align with the gatekeeper. Build rapport and nurture your connection with them the same way you would with a decision-maker.
  • Don’t lie to the gatekeeper. Losing the gatekeepers' trust is a surefire way to lose a deal. Always be upfront and honest.

Use your network and ask for referrals

Networking is key in the world of B2B sales. By having connections with people around the industry you operate in, you’re able to open many doors that would otherwise take a significant amount of time and energy.

For example, if you’re trying to sell your product to Company X, and you’re connected to an employee of that company. You can message them directly asking to speak to the decision-maker for a chance to bypass many of the hurdles in obtaining that call.

Referrals are also a powerful way to utilise your network. A decision-maker will be positively predisposed to you, if you’re known and trusted by other company employees. Asking a connection in the department of the decision-maker to introduce you to the decision-maker can prove to be quite beneficial.

Knock on every door

It’s a good idea to broaden the scope of the communication tools you use, as this increases your chances of successfully closing the deal.

Phone outreach

If you end up getting your hands on the way to call the decision-maker and book your call - congratulations! Also, make sure you prepare with due diligence!

Another tip for calling the decision-maker is placing your call at the right time. According to HubSpot, the best time to call a decision-maker is between 4p.m and 5p.m, when they have finished all their meetings and are catching up on emails and paperwork.

However, placing the call early in the morning can also be beneficial for your sales efforts.  

To prepare for your call with the decision-maker, check out this guide on planning for your sales call and our cold outreach guide to prepare for your next sales call like a true pro!

A guide to cold calling (+templates)
We magicked up the hottest cold-calling best practices, a cold-call structures, and cold-calling scripts on the internet right now.

LinkedIn outreach

One of the beauties of LinkedIn is your ability to directly communicate with individuals linked to companies, as opposed to writing an email to the general corporate inbox.

However, reaching out through LinkedIn also requires its own approach. Decision-makers are cautious about the products or services to utilise because they simply can’t risk making an uninformed decision. Here are some tips on how to contact the decision-maker in a way that will reach them…

  • Do your homework! Find out as much as you can about your prospect’s company, their recent milestones, and the challenges they experience at work. The idea is to look for anything that you might base your pitch around to appeal to the decision-maker.
  • Provide a solution, not a product. Decision-makers get pitched a lot, it’s a part of their job, after all. Open your pitch by linking your product to solutions to their challenges.
  • Ask questions. How are you going to find pain points otherwise? Questions help you find opportunities to build rapport with the decision-maker, which plays out in your favour when they weigh the pros and cons.
  • Develop a buyer persona. This helps greatly with establishing rapport with the decision-maker. Knowing potential interests and challenges before even contacting the prospect creates a more focused approach to the planning process.
  • Find common ground. Show the decision-maker that you’re looking out for their success. Try to avoid individual words like “you” or “I” and instead use more collaborative terminology such as “we” or “us”.

A good message template you could use to connect to the decision-maker via LinkedIn is…

Hey, [Name].

I see that you work at [company name]. We’ve had a client similar to your business and helped them achieve [goal]. I believe that your company could, too, achieve [goal]. Would you like to connect and discuss this opportunity?

[Your Name]."

➡️If you want to learn more about LinkedIn outreach, check out our guide!

Email outreach

Write to the decision-maker, or gatekeeper, depending on who’s the information you have. Introduce yourself, talk about the purpose of contacting them, and a proposition to discuss your offer further. Here’s a good structure for an outreach email…

  1. Start off with a polite introduction of both yourself and the company you work for.
  2. Provide them with social-proof of how your company could benefit theirs.
  3. Propose a further plan of action for your dialogue with the decision-maker.
  4. Respectfully finish your email

The finished product should end up looking something like this…

“Hey Mark,

My name is Kirill. I represent NetHunt CRM, a Gmail-integrated CRM system. We’ve already helped clients in your industry, like [company], achieve goals such as an 5x increase in customer base and a 20% higher ROI per lead generated.

This seemed like something your company could be interested in as I saw you were having issues with lead generation through David Smith’s LinkedIn. If you would like to continue this discussion, please be sure to let me know.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours Faithfully,

Kirill Skurikhin”

If you’d like to learn more about how to write cold sales emails, check out this article on our blog!

If you follow these steps, it’s safe to say that you’re not going to be hearing the dreaded “this decision is not up to me” phrase as much anymore.

You know how to identify the decision-maker, secure their contact information, reach out to them and get past the gatekeeper on your way to closing the deal.

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