Playing Sales Detective: The Mystery of the Missing Decision Maker

Sophia Obrecht
April 27, 2021

Check out these five steps to help you find the decision-maker, sell more efficiently, and close deals faster.

Working in (Enterprise) sales is like working as a detective. You’re constantly on the lookout for new leads and clues, searching for new prospects and deciphering their needs to sell your product accurately and effectively. One of the key hurdles in sales is finding the right contact, the magic maker, the keeper of the keys...the decision-maker with buying power! 


From finding a lead on LinkedIn to making contact with the manager who has the power to buy, here are 5 steps to help you solve the mystery of the missing decision-maker. 


Do your research.


This might seem like sales 101 but it is the first and most basic step to ensuring you get closer to contacting and subsequently selling to a decision-maker. When outbound prospecting on LinkedIn for example, be sure to research target companies, potential departments to target, team members, and job titles. Alongside this, you should also prepare an initial analysis of the value your product could bring to any prospect that you reach out to. However, remember to keep an open mind and be ready to ask the right questions both in written communication and during calls. 


If you’ve received lead information from inbound marketing, research is just as important. It might be that a lead can provide the all-important “in” to a target company, but that the initial contact does not have the decision-making power to move a sale forward. In this situation, it is important to do as much research as possible on a team or department setup. Use LinkedIn or company websites to investigate your lead's team manager, it will help you seem credible and informed if you can ask a lead to help you reach out to a specific manager. 



Reach out. 

When reaching out to a lead who is most likely not the decision-maker be clear with what your intentions are and how you got their contact information. Make it clear that you would like an introduction to a decision-making manager. 


This takes the pressure off assistants or juniors who may feel detached from an email that is written for a decision-maker. They might otherwise choose to ignore your email. If you are reaching out to someone you know is not a decision-maker it is key to include a CTA (a call to action), or instructions that lets them know what they need to do next. As a result, you are more likely to find a line of contact to the right decision-makers, or at least move one step closer to senior management. 

Qualify your leads.

It might be that your lead is the person who wants or could need your product or service. Maybe they even reached out to you for a demo, in any case, they are senior enough to know what they and their team needs...but that doesn't always mean they have the power of decision making especially in terms of budget. 


To make sure you maintain an effective sales cycle and keep moving a deal forward, always qualify your leads! Not only does this let you understand your prospect’s key challenges and their specific needs, it also allows you to assess the level of knowledge of your product and competitors, their readiness to buy (i.e. how urgent is the challenge your product could solve), but it also lets you understand if they have the buying power. 


If it is the case that your lead lacks decision-making power use your qualification call to investigate further, ask who has buying power, how likely it is to get them involved and onside, and what hurdles there might be in convincing the decision-maker to buy.

Read our in-depth guide to the perfect qualification call here.


Set up next steps.

Now that you’ve qualified your lead and are conceived they are a prospect worth pursuing, it is time to get the decision-maker onboard and into a meeting. 


Encourage your contact to bring the decision-maker into the mix. Discuss in the call when and how this can happen. Suggest a couple of times and days with your availability and ask your lead to set up a joint meeting and facilitate an introduction.  Alternatively, ask your prospect for the decision maker’s contact details and set up the meeting yourself. Remember to add context and cc your initial contact so it is clear to the decision-maker that there is some momentum already in this buying process. 

Always follow up.

The key to catching your mysterious decision-maker is the perfect follow-up. After your initial qualification call or even demo call (if your prospect has enough influence and knowledge to take these initial first steps) send a follow-up email immediately with details of what was discussed, and the to-dos for each party. 


Give your contact up to 3 days to take the next steps and reach out to the decision-maker. If they don’t complete these next steps follow up again, emphasizing your availability and send any extra resources that might help them to get their manager onboard. Think pre-recorded demos, or video messages directed directly to the decision-maker with the key points already discussed, a short pitch with a value proposition, and what should happen next. This will remind both the lead and decision-maker that behind the email address is an empathetic sales professional eager to help them overcome their challenges. 


Remember, solving the mystery of the missing decision-maker is not an easy task, it takes time, patience, and perseverance. 


Want to learn how a sales acceleration assistant like Ciara can speed up sales cycles and get to decision-makers more efficiently with better insights, guidance, and fewer meetings? Check out our guide on the ROI of sales acceleration assistants.