How B2B Salespeople Can Find the Right Decision Maker in Any Company

There are few principles as fundamental to B2B sales as finding the right decision makers in target companies. Every B2B sales teacher and manager advises against wasting time talking to employees who can’t make the final buying decision. The sooner you can connect with the decision makers, the better.

But in this article, we want to talk about the subtleties of how to identify decision makers in a prospective company—how this process is no longer as simple as “find everyone with this job title.” We’ll also explore solutions using the latest targeting technologies (namely, LinkedIn Sales Navigator and filtering strategies) to increase your hit rate on finding the correct decision maker from within a wider set of prospective companies.

Note: If you want to see how decision makers behave and interact with your website, you can sign up and try Leadfeeder free for 14 days here.

Weaknesses of the Traditional “Job Title” Based Approach

The typical sales development representative (or SDR) assumes a decision maker has a particular job title and runs that title through a LinkedIn search. But that approach comes with its limits:

  1. The decision maker’s title can be vary widely depending on the size of the company you’re selling to.
  2. When you filter out all but one job title, you miss out on viable decision makers.
  3. You may waste time “barking up the wrong tree” just because that person has the “right” job title.

For example, if you’re selling PPC management services to marketing teams, the traditional job title based approach may lead to a blanket statement like “our decision makers are CMOs, let’s find them.”

But each of the above three problems would manifest itself like this:

  1. Smaller companies (startups or small private companies) may not even have a CMO. Even if they do, the founder or owner may still need to sign off on a purchase decision.
  2. Companies that don’t have a CMO won’t show up in your search, so you’ll miss out entirely on targeting potentially viable companies.
  3. For other companies, you might spend valuable time wooing marketing heads when, in the end, they can’t even make a purchase decision.

To solve those problems, let’s look at an approach that uses advanced filtering on LinkedIn to help you find the right decision maker in companies of varying size.

Specifically, we’ll break it down into a three-step framework:

  1. Framing who the decision makers you’re looking for are.
  2. Identifying those key decision makers on LinkedIn.
  3. Finding their contact information.

Step 1: Know the Decision Makers You’re Looking For

One of the big reasons salespeople spend so much time looking for decision makers is that many of them miss a key first step: They don’t know what decision makers look like across their target companies.

The solution starts with developing personas that explain who your decision makers are. Buyer personas are an important piece of the entire sales and marketing process, and they come in extra handy when it comes to finding decision makers.

Understanding the key decision makers you’re looking for—right from the beginning—means your contact search becomes laser-focused and a lot more efficient. You spend less time scrolling through and qualifying the wrong contacts, and more time actually selling to the right people.

Define Your Decision Maker Personas

When you know who your decision makers are and what they look like, you can immediately eliminate everyone else at a company. You can narrow in on those people and figure out the best way to sell to them.

When you decide which companies to target, you look at specific qualifiers like:

  • Revenue
  • Industry
  • Number of employees

Your decision maker persona should have similar qualifiers in place, too. You need to know things such as:

  • Job title and duties of decision makers
  • Tenure at the company
  • Type of decision maker: Do they sign the paperwork and make the final decision? Do the research and pass the decision along to someone else? Are they the end user?
  • What pages of your website do decision makers visit? How do they interact with your website and campaigns?

Job title and duties, tenure, type of decision maker, and behavior on your website ultimately make up the 'decision maker' persona.

The best place to find that information and context is by looking at your existing customers and late-stage leads. Look for the common threads and build a picture of what your typical decision maker looks like—this makes it easy as pie to identify more people like that at other companies.

The stronger and more complete your profile of ideal customers and decision makers is, the better success you’ll have finding and reaching them.

That way, if you know your typical decision maker is an Engineering Manager, you can narrow-in on contacts with that job (or a similar title). If you know your decision maker is the end user instead of a procurement department, it changes how you approach outreach to them.

The key in B2B sales is that you’ll rarely have just one buyer persona. Job titles vary across companies, and company size plays a role in that. For startups with ten employees, you may need to talk to the CEO. For huge corporations, lower-level managers or procurement departments might be your decision makers.

That’s why it’s important to develop as many personas as it takes to represent all of your customers.

Note: If you want to see how decision makers behave and interact with your website, you can sign up and try Leadfeeder free for 14 days here.

Step 2: How to Find Decision Makers on LinkedIn

Once you have a full picture of your typical decision makers, how can you find more of those people? That’s really what it comes down to—finding more decision makers who look like your existing customers.

One of the best tools B2B salespeople have for finding decision makers in the wild is LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

When you sign up for Sales Navigator, you answer questions about the job functions and seniority of your typical leads. That info helps LinkedIn recommend decision makers and contacts you might want to talk to.

The Sales Navigator dashboard lets you customize your search so you can get more genuine leads.

To find the right decision makers in any company, you can use the Advanced Lead Search. Type in the company name and toggle on “Apply your sales preferences”, and LinkedIn will automatically narrow your search based on the decision maker qualifications you entered during setup.

A preview of the Sales Navigator dashboard customization.

In the results, you can view suggested leads’ LinkedIn profiles, send InMail, and opt to view similar contacts. Save leads to create a list of your potential decision makers at the company.

Advanced Filtering on LinkedIn

When you search for decision makers on LinkedIn, advanced Sales Navigator filtering makes it easy to search for decision makers within each of your buyer personas separately.

Within Sales Navigator, you can search for leads based on both job title and headcount.

That means you can search for leads based on both job title and headcount at their company—so you find CEOs and founders at tiny companies, and Engineering Managers or procurement specialists at larger accounts.

Adding that extra layer of filtering helps you spend less time talking to the wrong people, and more time selling to the actual decision maker.

Using LinkedIn Sales Navigator with Leadfeeder

At Leadfeeder, we’ve seen what Sales Navigator can do for B2B sales. That’s why we built a LinkedIn Sales Navigator integration to bring that information into our interface.

Leadfeeder and LinkedIn Sales Navigator have an integration.

When you enable the integration, Leadfeeder pulls data and results from LinkedIn right into the company profiles of companies who visited your website. You can search by job title or role to find the right decision maker right from inside Leadfeeder. View your connections at the company or send InMail without switching back and forth from one tool to the other.

The LinkedIn and Leadfeeder integration pulls data from LI, allowing you to stay within Leadfeeder and not have to switch back and forth.

Since Leadfeeder gives you size information about the companies that visit your website, you’ll know exactly which job titles to look for. If you nominate a preferred job title, our tool will even recommend Sales Navigator contacts to have conversations with.

How to Enable the LinkedIn Sales Navigator Integration:

Using the Sales Navigator integration takes one click—just go to any company profile and toggle on “Enable LinkedIn Sales Navigator”.

The Leadfeeder dashboard showing how to enable Sales Navigator.

Once enabled, Leadfeeder will automatically pull in contacts and recommendations from LinkedIn. Scroll down on the company profile to view.

Step 3: Find Contact Information for Decision Makers

In some cases, B2B salespeople can’t reach every potential lead through LinkedIn. Whether they don’t allow or respond to InMail or their email address and phone number are missing, there are times you’ll need to find contact information elsewhere in order to reach decision makers.

That’s where sales prospecting tools that help you find contact info for key decision makers come into play. There are tons of those tools out there, but here are five solid options to get you started:

Hunter

Type in any domain name and Hunter will pull up every email address associated with that domain. Scroll through to find a specific contact’s email, export all the addresses into a Google Sheet, or use the common pattern to make an informed guess about your decision maker’s email.

Prospect.io

Prospect.io does more than just offer you contact info—they also offer outreach and automation features. Prospect.io’s integration with popular CRM software sets it apart as a prospecting tool. Plus, with their credit system, you can even verify the email addresses provided before you hit send.

Voila Norbert

This tool makes the sales prospecting process even easier—all you have to do is type in the decision maker’s name and company and Voila Norbert will give you their email address. It even boasts a 98 percent success rate for B2B sales, so you can rely on the info you get.

ZoomInfo

While many tools offer email addresses, ZoomInfo (one of the OGs of sales prospecting) promises the most direct-dial phone numbers, too. The tool even offers features to help identify decision makers within key accounts, a complement to LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

Clearbit Connect

Clearbit Connect is one of the few prospect databases that works directly with your email. Extensions for both Outlook and Gmail make it easy to find contact info without ever leaving your inbox.

Find the Right Decision Makers in Any Company

Finding the decision maker in a company is the unavoidable, often tedious, first step in every sales process. But in 2019, B2B salespeople should be using the right approach and advanced tools to take more pain out of the process.

When you start out with a detailed picture of your target contacts and take advantage of the best sales and prospecting tools available, you can make that process faster and more efficient—so you spend more time selling to the right people.

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