Or Why the Decision Maker Isn’t Always the Most Important Person in the Sale

Young salespeople are often taught that you should always beeline for the ultimate decision maker. All else equal, this is a decent default option as you’re wise never to waste time on someone who cannot purchase your product or service. However, business processes are more complicated, while buying organizations are more diverse and democratic than ever before.

The concept of the sole decision maker may not even be relevant anymore. Can you recall the last B2B sale that was single-sourced by a lone individual — no input from anyone else in the organization? Neither can we.

A More Appropriate Framework

The concept of the decision maker may not be the most accurate construct. More common these days is group buying. So finding the first right person toward which you should address your sales pitch. Quickly establish which person is in the line of sight for using, recommending, as well as purchasing your type of products. Next, establish the correct person to make the pitch to when contacting an organization for the first time. Then prepare for alignment discussions across the prospect organization — all of which are appropriate account-based sales strategies. 

3 Common Don’ts in the Process

1. Don’t be surprised when these individuals are dissimilar, disjointed, and even distant from one another. Believe it or not, buying these days is actually harder than selling in companies of any reasonable size.

2. Don’t assume that just because there is a ‘C’ in the title that this individual is the decision-maker. While a CEO may have final say — or even veto power over any deal — she will likely delegate the research, process, and tasks of figuring out which products to purchase to other members of her team.

3. Given the realities of #2, Don’t always shoot high in prospecting. Though not necessarily axiomatic, the higher the title, the busier the person.

At the very least, the higher in the organization, the more visible that person is, which likely means they are being prospected more frequently, The more an individual is targeted, the more guarded they become. And the better they get at fending off any type of sales outreach. This fact is often overlooked, yet affects most outbound sales campaigns.

Better, More Thoughtful Targeting

Given the realities of finding mythical decision-makers at the top of an organization who may not have the time, the interest, nor the responsibility of researching new products or services, it often makes sense to target the middle of most organizations and work up. 

Finding those tasked with researching new products in your area is gold. This is the person you want to focus on. The person who is going to make recommendations across an organization. In the best case scenario, this will be on which product or service to purchase. You can spend more time with someone who has less on their plate. You can build the rapport and figure out exactly what the problem is with someone who is closer to it. Work with your team and make sure that knowing both the ultimate decision maker and the person you should be pitching to.

If you assume a relatively democratic buying process, getting to the referrer/recommender first, often before they are tasked with research, is extremely valuable. The first vendor into any deal can often set the agenda for all others to follow. 

On a personal scale, getting an influencer on your side, giving the enthusiasm, and information necessary to pitch internally can be a worthy goal because you may never have a chance to meet with the C-Levels in the first place. You also have a chance to understand, then shape the direction of features and benefits (nice to have vs need to have) of the product under consideration. Using that first person to communicate to others on the buying side should be your salesman’s goal because they may never have a chance to discuss with influencers on the inside.

Honing the Process

It’s never easy to land any meetings with targeted accounts — let alone ones where the targets wear a large title, are frequently busy, and may not even be responsible for vendor evaluation. A more thoughtful approach to targeting those most likely to accept appointments, drive purchase initiatives forward into their own organization, and ultimately close business is worth considering.

To locate these prospects then land exactly these types of meetings for your business and sales team, contact CIENCE today.



Photo credit Pixabay and geraldo stanislas on Unsplash

Eric Quanstrom

Eric is CMO at CIENCE, responsible for growth, sales, and marketing strategies at the company. He spends his time preparing overall plans to increase revenue, reduce costs, mitigate risks, and develop programs with quantifiable objectives to measure results.