You may have a great proposal. On your mind, it may perfectly fit the potential client. Indeed, your chances may be pretty high. But. You may end up with nothing if you contact the wrong person, not the decision maker. In other words, not the influential one when it comes to the business decision making.
The decision maker isn’t an official role. Nor it’s something you can learn about just on every marketing blog. No, but if you have ever tried to sell your products or services to another company, you may have asked yourself: “Whom should I contact to get higher chances of positive response?”. The answer would be “decision maker”.
Small hint: the person that answers your calls or emails usually isn’t the right person or decision maker. Let’s find out why it’s better to avoid decision makers are and why you need to be able to recognize them.
Decision Maker as the Key
Every time you are going to contact a company where you know nobody so far, you need to perform a research. You need to find out who will be in charge of the decision on your behalf. Yes, it’s not easy but it is possible if you are armed with the sufficient information.
Now you may think, well, why can’t I just get in touch with the first contact person? If the question is behind his/her competence, I will be, at least, redirected to someone who is in charge. It certainly makes sense but unfortunately doesn’t always work that way.
In selling, everything matters: the way you talk about the product or service, the words you use to describe it and the needs of the company that you address. Even the voice sometimes can change the decision. Now think about the person that isn’t the decision maker but happens to receive your sales pitch.
There’s a bunch of reasons why the person who is far from decision making may not want to direct your information to the decision maker. She may be afraid to do anything that doesn’t match decision maker’s view as it may impact her career. On the other hand, this person may find your proposition not good enough to dedicate her time.
Also, consider the human factor. Any intermediate person between you and decision maker may have his problems, may be unsatisfied with the work routine. No matter what exactly is happening in his life – human factor will, most likely, influence the outcome. This is why contacting the wrong person can be crucial.
Knowing decision maker before actually contacting him is essential also because you need to prepare your pitch with the focus on the particular person. Therefore, making sales pitch targeted to decision makes is very useful and extremely efficient strategy unlike to blindly pitching your product to anyone who appears on your road to the decision maker.
What kind of decision makers can you find?
The decision makers vary, and it should not surprise you as long as the decision about buying can’t depend on just one opinion in the company. Therefore, you need to know five types of decision-makers in B2B sales with the different degree of impact on the buying process:
1) Initiator (the one who knows that your product or service matches company’s needs and initiates dialogue with you)
2) Influencer (the one who finds your product or service worthy and has enough power to convince others, and sometimes he is also the Decider in this line)
3) Decider (at the end of the day he is the one who makes the final decision)
4) Buyer (he doesn’t own the final word and does what the Decider says)
5) User (he knows nothing about buying itself but may influence the following purchases)
These five types describe the roles of those who take part in the buying process. However, it’s useless to target all of them. Only the Influencer and the Decider should become your primary target.
Depending on the size and the type of the business, positions, and responsibilities of decision makers do vary. It may be confusing especially if you have never cared about that before. The best practice, then, is to aim at those who happen to be higher on the company’s ladder.
How to Get in Touch?
I already know what you’re thinking about: the more authoritative the person is, the more difficult to get in touch. This is true, but difficult doesn’t equal impossible. Applying a bit more efforts, in the majority of the cases, you can find contact information about the person you need.
So how would you know where to look for the Influencer or the Decider? First of all, you need to examine the company of your interest for the employees and hierarchy they make up. You can use company’s website and Linkedin for this purpose. As you learn more about potential decision makers, you can start looking for information on them on other social platforms.
In the startups and young companies, it often happens that VPs, CEOs, and owners act as decision makers. However, if you are about to contact a large company, keep in mind that, more likely, decision makers there are the heads of certain departments (depending on the service or product you offer).
Delving into the question, I have talked to some of my friends, and they proved most of my predictions. My friend Kevin M. who is the CEO of the early-stage startup admits that he is evaluating every decision made by his team and doesn’t let pass anything that doesn’t match his concept of the startup.
On the other hand, Dean K. who works at the largest SaaS company in the region says that depending on the service or product that is to be offered, business decision making in the company is on the one of VPs.
Ability to make decisions that lead to stable growth are crucial for every business. That’s why in every company you can find people who (more or less) actively take part in business decision making. Those are people whom you need to target when you want to pitch your product or service. Finding the one who is in charge implies spending more time on researching company’s hierarchy. However, you can be sure that the reward will follow.