Look, I’m sure you know this already:
If you want to quickly sell your services to new clients, then you really need to talk directly to the decision-makers.
True, other people in the company might indicate the need to hire you. But unless you get the “go ahead” from the very person in charge, the sale just won’t happen.
But I’m sure you’ll agree:
Reaching decision-makers isn’t as simple as it seems.
(Particularly, if they don’t have “IT buyer” or “IT manager” in the job title, which is often the case.)
And so, last week, I showed you how to quickly find relevant prospects on LinkedIn.
Today, however, I’m going to go a step further and discuss different ways to identify and reach decision-makers in the companies you’d like to approach.
Sounds like something you’d like to know? Then let’s get started.
Why You Shouldn’t Be Wasting Time on Talking to Anyone Else But Decision-Makers
You know, at some point in my career, selling became synonymous with wasting time to me.
And it wasn’t any bitterness talking. There’s a lot of proof that we often waste time when trying to grow our business.
Here, just consider these stats (via OpenView):
- It takes 18 dials to connect with a single buyer (and that’s not necessarily a decision-maker). Ouch!
- Typical call-back rates fall below 1%, which is dramatically low.
- And less than 24% of sales emails get opened. Not to mention that only a small fraction of those is actually acted upon.
At the same time, as OpenView reports:
“The first viable vendor to reach a decision maker and set the buying vision has a 74% average close ratio.”
Whoa, 74% close rate….that’s… huge, right?
But why is there such a discrepancy between those statistics? On one end, you have sales people whose message barely hits home with prospects, on the other, a possibility for an impressive close rate.
The answer is simple – because not all salespeople talk to the right person in the company.
As Will Humphries from Internal Results wrote (note, the emphasis in bold is mine):
“A common waste of time is meeting with people who don’t have the authority or resources to make a purchase decision. What often happens is that sales reps are excited to get someone inside an organisation to agree to meet, but they don’t consider that this time investment is often redundant.”
He further points:
“One of the best ways to fine-tune your lead generation approach is to connect with top decision makers from the beginning of the process.”
Because, reaching the decision-maker right away will drastically reduce your sales cycle. It will also ensure that your message gets delivered to the only person in the company who could say yes to your pitch.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some ways to find out who is the decision-maker in your prospect company.
Strategy #1. Leverage Personal Connections to Identify The Right Person to Talk To
If you’ve been selling IT services for a while, then I’m sure you’ll agree with me on this:
One of the biggest challenges in selling isn’t reaching decision-makers. It’s finding out who is the person responsible for buying IT services in the prospect company.
After all, reaching out is relatively easy, thanks to emails, social media messages, phones…
But identifying the person to connect with…now that’s a different story. Particularly, if you’re targeting a large company with many levels of middle management.
(Having said that, the situation isn’t different if you’re approaching a smaller business. With fewer people, many managers might hold multiple responsibilities, not all of them described in their job title.)
As the first step to overcome those challenges, leverage your existing network to see if you know anyone connected to the prospect company.
The simplest way to do that is to review your Linkedin connections to see if you or your colleagues have a common connection at the prospect company.
Visit profiles of any IT people in the company. If you’re connected with them somehow, Linkedin will show you a little “How You’re Connected” widget in the sidebar with a list of connections you two have in common.
PRO TIP: You may have to try a couple of people in the prospect company before you find a common connection.
Also, your common connections may not always be able to recommend you. In that case, Linkedin will offer an alternative, or suggest other connections who could help you reach out that person.
Strategy #2: Map the Organization on LinkedIn to Make an Educated Guess About a Decision-Maker
In case if you don’t have a common connection who could introduce you to a decision-maker, or at least help identify the person, the other option is to map the organization.
And then, make an educated guess based on what you find out.
Here’s how to do that:
Visit the Company’s LinkedIn page. In the sidebar, you’ll find a “How You’re Connected” widget that gives you access to the list of company’s employees on the social network.
Click “See all.”
Filter the list, looking for particular roles or titles that could suggest a person with the authority to hire an IT company.
(Note, the most useful filters for this purpose – function, seniority level, and a handful of others – are only available to LinkedIn premium members. If you don’t have the full membership, you might have to resort to sifting through the records manually.)
When reviewing the list, pay attention to more than just a person’s job title. Factors like the time they’ve been with a company, or previous positions might also help identify the real decision-maker.
For example, even though it might seem that an IT director would have the buying authority in a company, the fact that they’ve joined only a couple of weeks ago might suggest that their senior manager, with the company for the last 3 years, would be still responsible for suggesting new investments.
Strategy #3. Discover the Decision-Maker by Simply Calling the IT Department
I admit, I have never tried this strategy. However, as the guys from Strategic Sales & Marketing point out (the emphasis in bold is mine):
“This is a critical starting point because many salespeople make the mistake of trying to immediately obtain the name of their decision maker from the company receptionist. This is a mistake, because company receptionists and switchboard operators are not there to help sales people – they’re there to quickly route calls. […] By moving to the IT department to find your decision maker, often the environment is more “open” because most salespeople have already been screened out by the company receptionist.”
Once you reach the IT department, ask about a person directly responsible for the type of service you provide. For example:
“May I ask who’s in charge of the server infrastructure?”
Remember, your goal isn’t to connect with the person but get their name (but of course, be prepared to get connected with the person, if they’re currently available).
I admit, this might seem the most intimidating strategy of all.
At the same time, it offers the quickest way to identify the right person to initiate the sale process with at a prospect company.
And so, if you don’t have the time to sift through your Linkedin connections or map the organization, then that’s a strategy for you.