How to Identify Decision Makers in B2B Sales

How to Identify Decision Makers in B2B Sales
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Veronika Belova
by Veronika Belova

2 Min. Read

One of the most important steps in B2B sales is to pinpoint who the decision-makers are within an organization. In fact, sales reps can spend up to 40% of their time just looking for someone to call. If you can cut that time down, you can spend more time selling. 

This article explains how to identify decision makers within any business you might be prospecting or pitching.

Key Takeaways:

Understanding the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

Step one in identifying key decision makers is to create an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). This helps you zero in on the most promising prospects for you and your product. 

An ICP is a detailed description of an organization that would best represent your ideal potential customer, where your solutions fit seamlessly. Crafting an ICP helps focus marketing and sales efforts, ensuring that time and resources are spent engaging targets who are most likely to convert. 

Key elements of an ICP include demographic information such as company size and industry, as well as pain points that highlight specific challenges or needs that your product can address.

From here, you can begin prospecting with greater accuracy. But let’s look at how to identify decision makers within your newly refined target businesses.

you’ve got to make a decision

Navigating the Buying Process

Understanding the buying process of your prospects is crucial in helping you identify decision makers. Strategic considerations such as the value and cost of your product significantly influence this process. 

High-value products often involve more complex decision-making frameworks and a larger number of decision-makers, including senior executives. 

Conversely, lower-value products might see decisions made more quickly and with fewer people involved. Recognizing these dynamics helps in aligning sales strategies to the specific needs and behaviors of each prospect.

Analyze where your product falls on this spectrum. Are you likely to need buy-in from one person, or five? Where do they sit in the organization? What pain points do they have that you can address or solve? To answer these questions and identify decision makers, you’ll need to do some research.

Identify Decision Makers

To effectively identify decision makers within an organization, get on LinkedIn. LinkedIn allows you to view profiles and establish connections within the target company, giving insight into roles and influence levels. 

You can use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to make advanced searches for potential targets based on your own conditions and criteria. 

If you’re already in contact with someone in the business, you can ask questions directly, such as which teams will be using your product or service, what the main objective of using you product or service is, and asking about specific pain points of different contacts. This way you can learn more about the company’s decision-making hierarchy, allowing you to identify decision makers who have the authority and influence over purchasing decisions.

Once you’re able to identify decision makers, it’s time to turn this prospect into an account.

identify decision makers

Leveraging Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a focused approach that targets key accounts rather than broader markets. This strategy allows marketing and sales efforts to align with the specific preferences and needs of identified decision-makers within these accounts. 

By tailoring messages and campaigns to the unique attributes and challenges of each account, ABM enhances engagement and increases the likelihood of a positive response from the decision-makers. This targeted approach ensures that marketing and sales resources are used efficiently to create more personalized and impactful interactions.

Engaging with Influencers and Champions

Certain individuals in the buying group at a target company can have a heavy influence on the decision. Equally, a specific individual at your target company may be the ‘champion’ of this project. Internal influencers and champions play pivotal roles in the B2B buying process and it’s crucial they get the focus they need during the buying process.

Influencers have the power to sway decisions, while champions actively advocate for your product within the organization. To engage these key players effectively, tailor your communication to address their specific interests and organizational goals. 

Regularly updating them with relevant information and demonstrating how your product aligns with their objectives can help lock in their support, and drive the decision-making process forward.

Maintaining Updated Contact Lists

Maintaining up-to-date contact lists is vital when navigating the ever-changing landscape of organizational structures. If you no longer know who fulfills a key role in the target company, you can’t hope to identify decision makers with the power to sign off on the sale.

As roles and responsibilities within companies change, keeping track of these shifts is crucial for maintaining relevance in your communications. A robust CRM plays a key role here, serving as your go-to repository for all contact information. It should be regularly updated to reflect any changes in your clients’ organizations. 

Additionally, leveraging professional networking platforms like LinkedIn can be instrumental in staying informed about role changes and updates within client organizations. Regular engagement on these platforms, combined with systematic updates to your CRM, ensures that your sales and marketing efforts are always aligned with the current dynamics of your target accounts.

Surfe lets you keep your CRM up-to-date with contacts directly from LinkedIn, so you always know exactly who you’re speaking to, and where they are in the sales journey.

Effective Approaches for Different Decision-Makers

Once you’ve been able to identify decision makers, remember that each one is an individual, with their own needs, goals, and ways of communicating. Tailoring communication strategies to fit the role and preferences of each decision-maker is crucial for effective engagement. 

Understanding the culture of the business, and the individual communication styles of each stakeholder allows you to craft messages that resonate, fostering stronger connections. 

By aligning your communications along these elements, you not only improve your chances of a positive response but also build lasting relationships that can lead to ongoing business opportunities. This personalized approach demonstrates respect and understanding, and also embeds you as a known entity within the organization should people change roles or move on elsewhere.

Let’s Wrap It Up!

It can be difficult to identify decision makers in sales, but it doesn’t have to be. Understanding your ideal customer profile, intelligently navigating the buying process from the perspective of your clients, and researching the company can help you identify decision makers with the power to sign off on the sale. 

From here, you can begin to refine and progress the relationship, with account-based marketing and personalized communications that speak directly to the decision maker and their needs. Once you know who you’re speaking to, and what they want, sales becomes personal, and that’s where sales people often do their best work.

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FAQs about how to identify decision makers in B2B sales:

How can you identify decision makers in business?

There are a few ways you can tell who might be a decision maker in a business. The most immediate is their job title. If they’re senior, a manager, or an executive, they’re likely able to make the decision that will lead to a sale. 

Finding out who manages the budget for a given team is a good next step, as they will have final sign-off on expenditures. 

What is the decision making process in sales?

The 5 steps of decision making in sales are problem recognition, information search, alternatives evaluation, purchase decision, and post-purchase evaluation.

What are some different types of decision-makers in sales?

While every decision maker is an individual, many of us fall into broad categories in how we evaluate options, and how we make decisions. Knowing how the decision maker thinks can help refine your approach. 

Cautious. Cautious decision makers are more likely to spend a long time researching different options, and tend to follow the pack, often choosing the market leader, or the least expensive option with a good chance of maximizing ROI. 

Risk-taker. Risk-takers are open to new ideas, and often think about the big picture. If your product presents a radical new way of getting things done, these decision makers are your best bet. 

Brand-focused. This type of decision maker may have a marketing background, as they are concerned with the brand, its reputation, and its values. For this decision maker, your product will need to align with the brand ahead of anything else. 

Multifocal. These decision makers are looking to maximize their ROI and achieve multiple goals with any single decision. If your product can help with multiple streams of work, or streamline across processes, you’ll impress these decision makers. 

How to identify what type of decision maker you’re speaking to?

Figuring out what category of decision maker you’re speaking to can massively improve your chance of success. 

You can use interactions as a way of identifying the type of decision maker you’re dealing with. If they’re asking for case studies and trial periods, they might be cautious. 

If they think you can solve a problem and they want to get moving, they might be a risk-taker.