B2B Sales

How To Find Decision Makers in a Company

Imagine celebrating the success of your recent presentation. The prospect loved you and your product, thanks to your ability to show them how it will remove their pains. 

You opened their eyes to a brighter future for them and their business, but after a few days, you start to worry. You still haven’t received a response to the proposal you sent. What happened?

You email to follow up and get this response. 

“I loved the product, but my manager just didn’t see it as a priority, and thought it was pretty pricey. Maybe in 6 months, we can revisit.”

You spent days working that prospect (cold calls, research, discovery, presentation, contract negotiation), but the person you talked to couldn’t make the call. 

From now on, the best thing to do is go directly to the person with the purchasing power—the Decision Maker. 

In this post, you will learn how B2B sales reps find Decision Makers and their contact information so that they can spend most of their time talking to the person with the power to buy your solution. 

What Is a Decision Maker (DM) in B2B Sales? 

A Decision Maker is a person at a company who has the power to buy your service or product. He/she will be the one approving the purchase.

For example, if you are selling marketing software, the DM is going to be the prospect in charge of the marketing budget. They will probably manage a marketing team that will use the software every day. 

You will often find multiple Decision Makers in B2B space, especially in enterprise deals. 

For instance, if you are selling a $200,000/yr CyberSecurity solution to a Fortune 500 company, there will be many people involved in the decision, from the CEO to the Head of IT. 

Usually, the higher the title, the more likely that they are a DM. So, a Chief Marketing Officer is more likely a Decision Maker than a Marketing Associate. 

B2B sales reps sometimes take this rule as a universal truth. They think they can just use titles to find the right Decision Makers. For example, some B2B reps selling marketing tech will only look for the VP of Marketing. 

But even though it’s a quick method to find the DM, it’s not always the best route. Here is why. 

Why “Job Title” Approach Doesn’t Always Work

The traditional approach to finding DMs has its limitations. 

Job Titles Are Inconsistent Across Companies

A CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) might exist in a large company, but not in a smaller startup. A VP of Finance might only exist in half of your target accounts. 

Also, in a larger company, the CMO might be called the Director of Marketing instead. This inconsistency makes it hard to find the right people at each unique, separate company. 

Job Title Responsibilities Differ

If you are selling a sales engagement tool to a team of BDRs, you would probably look for a VP of Sales or a Sales Manager. But, the responsibilities of those titles change from company to company. 

At Company A, the VP of Sales could be responsible for managing the BDR team, but, at Company B, the VP of Sales could be responsible for managing enterprise deals and creating sales strategies. 

If you always go after the VP of Sales, you will sometimes reach out to a non-DM for your solution. Additionally, you might frustrate some VPs of Sales by pitching something that isn’t relevant to their position. 

Assumptions in sales can get you in trouble. 

It’s crucial to get in the habit of thinking that every prospect has a unique job description. That way, you are always asking questions to learn about the specifics of their jobs. 

With the “Job Title” approach, you run the risk of overlooking the actual DM at the company because their title seems too low on the totem pole. 

mistakes in finding a decision maker

There Is More Than One Decision Maker

If you are looking only at one title at each company, you will miss connecting with other key Decision Makers. 

In B2B sales, it is helpful to go after multiple people at the same company you think could be the DMs, because sometimes, they all will be. 

The More Effective Way to Find Decision Makers 

Instead of blasting emails out to every CEO or VP of your target department, try forming a more research-based and strategic approach to finding the Decision Makers at each company. 

When you are trying to find property management companies to sell to, you don’t just select every company with the word “Management” in the title.

Instead, you create an Ideal Customer Profile – a categorical description of the company that will receive the most value from your solution. Then you know which types of property management companies to go after (Residential or Commercial? Size? Budget?).

Employ this same strategy when you are finding Decision Makers by creating a DM Buyer Persona

When finding DMs, creating a Decision Maker Buyer Persona is your first step. 

Step 1: Create a Decision Maker Buyer Persona

To find the DM, you have to know who they really are. Once you have a clear picture of a DM for your solution, you will know when you have spotted one. 

You will know which attributes indicate that a prospect is a Decision Maker. This will guide your searches through the employees at each company. 

You will also know which responsibilities, experience-levels, and positions to look for when reading job profiles of potential DMs on your target company’s website. 

So, create a Decision Maker Buyer Persona, which will help you identify a Decision Maker like a metal detector helps treasure hunters identify gold. 

A Decision Maker Buyer Persona is a fictitious, research-based, description of the person with ultimate purchasing power for your solution. 

The description could include many data points: responsibilities, title, goals, and power. 

For example, let’s say you are selling content marketing services to small and medium-sized businesses. Here’s your potential DM Buyer Persona. 

Decision Maker Buyer Persona Example

  • Responsibilities: Managing the marketing team, creating a marketing strategy, evaluating, and implementing new marketing technologies.
  • Power and Influence: Tenure of 5+ years in the industry or 3+ years at their current company. 
  • Budget Power: In charge of managing the marketing budget. 
  • Titles: VP of Marketing, CMO, Director of Marketing, Marketing Manager. 
  • Goals: Grow content marketing. Increase traffic. Rank posts higher on Google. Bring in leads. 
  • Motivations: Advance the marketing department through innovative digital marketing tactics. 
  • Pains: Not enough time to create a content marketing plan. Lacks the resources to hire and vet writers. 

And If You Can’t Fill It All In? 

If you can’t fill in all of those categories, use these techniques to find the answers. 

Talk With Account Managers

Check with your team members in charge of managing client relationships. They can tell you about the typical buyer. 

Consult Your CRM

Look through past accounts that have closed and try to see what attributes the Decision Makers at those companies have in common. What were their responsibilities, titles, and needs? 

Read through email exchanges or phone call notes to learn about the DM and why they bought the solution. 

Analyze the Intel

Figure out what all of these buyers have in common and then add those details to your DM Buyer Persona. But, keep in mind that the DM Persona still might need adjustments. 

Test It Out

You should track the accuracy of your DM Buyer Persona throughout your prospecting. If you are always talking to people who aren’t in charge of buying, it is time to edit the Buyer Persona. 

For instance, maybe it is evident that you should find prospects a few more rungs up the corporate ladder. Or perhaps the smaller companies usually have to run every purchase by their CEO. 

Continue to test and refine your Buyer Persona. Once it’s perfect, you will start to discern whether someone is a DM or not quickly. 

Step 2: Find the Decision Makers at a Company 

Okay, so you know what your DM looks like. Now, start finding these DMs through a variety of search methods. 

Company Website – Team/Leadership Page

A lot of the time, a company’s website will include a section profiling each member of their Leadership team. 

This page is commonly under the “About Us” tab. 

In each employee profile, there is usually a brief description of the prospect’s responsibilities, experience within the industry and company, and personal details (e.g., what they do on weekends).

While the personal details are great for making a connection in conversation or inserting into the subject of an email, that information is not useful for finding the Decision Maker. 

The responsibilities and experience sections are your key. You have to match them to your DM buyer persona as best you can. Once you have found a match, you have your Decision Maker. 

For instance, if you are selling a productivity software, and your DM Buyer Persona says your DMs often manage a large team taking on complex group projects, you would look for some variation of that in the employees’ profiles. 

Pro Tip: At the beginning of a cold call, demonstrate you did your research by mentioning their responsibilities and how you can help.

Even though titles aren’t the best determinant, they are still useful for finding the right person quickly. If you are selling to someone in the finance department, you don’t need to read through the bios of the COO or the Head of HR. 

Skip to the common title of your DMs and read through their bios until you spot a match. 

Talking With the Gatekeeper

Sometimes a phone call is the fastest way to a detailed answer. 

If you don’t know who the DM is for your solution, call the company’s main number and talk to the Gatekeeper (admin or assistant). He/she can tell you exactly who to speak with at the company, especially if it’s a small business. 

When talking to a Gatekeeper, always be friendly and polite. A lot of sales reps make the mistake of trying to bulldoze past the gatekeeper, which hurts their chances for a sale for a couple of reasons. 

Negative Effects of Bulldozing Past The Gatekeeper (GK)

  1. The GK won’t tell you the information you need: the name of the DM. 
  2. Since you haven’t formed a rapport with them, they will tell you that the DM is busy whenever you call. The DM probably instructed them to do so to block sales calls. 
  3. They won’t give you helpful intel: when the DM is available or what frustrates them.
  4. They will never say, “The nice woman from X Company called again. She seems so kind. You should give her a call.” 

A DM trusts their assistant’s judgment. 

Sometimes a Gatekeeper’s words of praise can help you land a meeting. 

When talking to an assistant, ask something like this to find the DM. 

“I’m looking for the person in charge of {Responsibilities from your DM Buyer Persona}. Can you please point me towards the person I should be speaking with?”

If you are selling SEO services, say, 

“I’m looking for a person who is in charge of content marketing. Can you please point me in the right direction?” 

LinkedIn

If there are no employee profiles on the company website, use LinkedIn to find the DM at your target company. Do this by typing the name of the company into the search bar. Then, go to the “People” section. 

You will get a list of all the employees at the company, which you can filter by titles, keywords, schools, etc.

Finally, you can research a couple of DM candidates until you have found the perfect person to call. 

Pro Tip: It’s best to have a list of companies that fit your Ideal Customer Profile before you start looking for DMs. That way, you aren’t contacting DMs in the industry but at the wrong types of companies, which is inefficient since they have a low buy rate. 

The most effective B2B sales reps create ICPs and then plug the attributes of their best-fit companies into lead generation software like Soleadify

This way, you have a list of perfect-fit companies to call, and you can begin your search for the DMs at each company. Not to mention, the software will provide you with contact info so that you can skip Step 3. 

Step 3: Find the Decision Maker’s Contact Information 

Now that you know the name of the person with whom to book a meeting, you will have to find their contact information if you want to connect. 

While you can do this manually, it is best to leverage technology. The last thing you want is a bunch of bounced emails that you worked hard to personalize. 

But, since lead databases aren’t all-knowing and might lack a few of the email addresses you need, we will go over both methods. 

Manually Finding DM’s Contact Information

Check the Website 

Sometimes you will get lucky, and a gregarious prospect will list their email address on the company website. 

This is rare, but some people do it so that they are accessible to all clients. If you are selling to brokers or salespeople, you will probably find their contact info listed. 

If you are selling to the CEO of a large company, you probably will not. 

Guessing

Guessing is, quite obviously, not the fastest or most sophisticated method, but it gets the job done. 

If you know one of the company’s email addresses is “[email protected],” it is safe to say the other addresses follow the same format. Another person’s email address might be “[email protected]” 

If you don’t have an address to use as a template, the most common email addresses are variations of their names @{companyname}.com

Once you have the guessed addresses, you can check if they exist by plugging them into an email verifier. The verifier will tell you if this address exists. If it does, it’s probably for the person you are trying to reach. 

Using Technology to Find Contact Information

If you’d rather spend most of your time hosting demos and closing deals, use technology to find contact info. 

Soleadify 

Soleadify provides you with the contact information of DMs at your target accounts. The tool doesn’t guess or try email patterns, which is why users have lower bounce rates than other tools.

You can plug in your ICP descriptors (size of company, industry, revenue, etc.) and get a list of thousands of companies and their associated employees’ email addresses and phone numbers. 

With lead generation software like Soleadify, you can spend less time doing tedious administrative work of finding contact info. 

It works like Google – the software crawls the internet and uses machine learning to build the largest database of companies and business data in the world. 

Note: If you have the service, the emails will not be blocked like in the picture above. 

Voila Norbert

This software solution helps you find the email addresses of your Decision Makers. It is mainly used by small businesses or solopreneurs who want to find and verify hundreds of emails a month. 

It sort of acts as a guessing machine. You plug in the prospect’s name, their company, and the software forms a bunch of variations of likely email addresses and verifies them. 

It’s the technological version of the guessing method we discussed above. 

ZoomInfo

ZoomInfo is database software that gives B2B sales reps their prospects’ email addresses, phone numbers, and other data such as titles. 

Questions to Ask to Find Other Potential Decision Makers

Even after all of this work, you will still inevitably run into situations where the person you are talking with is not the DM. Or, they are just one of the multiple DMs you need to speak with to close the deal. 

If you are on a call and feel this is the case, ask these questions to find the other Decision Makers:

  1. Are you the owner of this initiative, or are there other people involved? 
  2. What does the purchase approval process usually look like for products like these? 
  3. With companies like yours, a lot of the time {job title X} likes to get involved since they will be managing it. Should we bring them in?
  4. I want to get this product in the hands of your team as quickly as possible so you can start getting the value. How can I help you get this purchase approved by your team?

What If the Prospect Wants to Sell It Internally to Their Boss or Other Decision Makers? 

During a sales call, some prospects might ask you for sales decks, presentation slides, or videos to use to convince their higher-ups to buy your solution. 

This is a common problem for B2B sales reps, and if a rep acts passively and allows the prospect to sell the solution internally to other DMs, the sale could end unfavorably. 

Don’t let this happen. It is your job as the sales rep to sell the product. 

Plus, when the prospect tries to sell it internally, the DM will hone in on price since they haven’t seen the value from a demo with you.

Instead of letting a prospect try to sell your product, you can say something like this: 

“Would it make sense for us to set up another meeting and bring in your boss? That way, I can personally show them the value of the product and answer all of their questions that will come up.”

Your prospect should understand, and you should be able to set up a meeting with them and their manager / other stakeholders. 

The Takeaway

Quickly finding Decision Makers is crucial if you want to make the best use of your time and energy as a B2B sales rep.

When you consistently speak to the DM on the first call, your sales cycles are shorter, and you have more room in your pipe for new opportunities. 

So, to find Decision Makers easily, use our 3-step method above and consider investing in some technology to shorten the process. 

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