You can lose a lot of time as a salesperson trying to find the right person to talk to in a company. There are a lot of barriers, hurdles, and hoops to work through to find a decision maker and sometimes we find out too late that we were pursuing the wrong person all along. We can make this even more complicated by bringing up the fact that the decision-makers you are seeking have different job titles or functions amongst different companies. For instance, in one company you might need to speak with the CFO, and in another, it is purchasing and in yet another, it is a department manager. No two companies handle things quite the same and your job is to figure out each little variance between them all just to make sure that you are connecting with the right people. A lot of fruitless time is wasted in this process and there has to be a better way.
Unfortunately, the common default question for finding decision makers for salespeople is, “Are you the decision maker?”. What the other person actually hears the salesperson asking is, “Are you someone important in this company?” It is confrontational and uncomfortable for both people. But why not get right to the point, right? Well, yes, but do we have to be so curt? Here is a simple question that anyone can use that will get you exactly what you want almost every time.
“Hi, my name is ______ and I represent __________. If you don’t mind me asking, how are purchasing decisions for this service/ product that we offer made at this company?”
Can it really be this easy? Yup, and I’ll explain why.
- Asking someone about a process is much less intrusive than asking about a person. They might start by telling you which department you should be talking with. That’s a lot easier than trying to get a name right off the bat.
- Gatekeepers, staff, and managers don’t often think of their supervisors as decision-makers. They just think of them as bosses. So, when you use the term “decision-maker” it instantly throws up a flag that you are a salesperson looking to disrupt or disturb their boss. Stop using the term ‘decision-maker altogether.
- Gatekeepers or staffers often will inadvertently reveal the decision-maker’s name while explaining the process giving you your first vital piece of information. “Those decisions are handled by this specific department. Barry is the one in charge over there”.
- Ask what is the best way to get a 20-minute (or however long you desire) meeting with this department/ decision-maker. You’ll sound like less of a disruption. Perhaps you can get lucky and schedule a meeting right then and there. More than likely, it is at this point that you will get the decision-maker’s contact information and that’s good enough.
- The decision-makers are less likely to ignore your meeting request than someone who is not your intended target. If your message is relevant and compelling to the decision-maker, getting the meeting should be much easier at this point. Don’t let your efforts get wasted on the wrong people. Aim for exactly what you want and hit it on the first try.