As sales managers, it's critical that your SDRs get the most out of every conversation they have when B2B prospecting, regardless of whether that prospect is the final decision maker or not. Even with pre-call research completed, it is important to establish that the information your SDRs obtain prior to speaking with their prospects is correct. Therefore, at the start of a cold conversation, it's typical for an SDR to confirm that the person they are speaking to oversees the aspect of business looking to be discussed. That being said, this act of confirmation can lead a prospect to thinking that the conversation is a sales call and thus an SDR is hit with the objection: “I’m not the decision maker.”
The conversation should not stop there. Here are a few ways SDRs should approach prospects who immediately respond to their questions with “I’m not the final decision maker” in order to identify “champions” and provide them with the necessary information to bring to their next planning meeting.
1. Get them qualified
In B2B prospecting, if someone tells you their superior is the ultimate decision maker, don’t stop the conversation at the referral. Try to obtain as much information as you can from your prospect in order to qualify or disqualify the associated account as an opportunity. If the account is in fact qualified, then ask to include the decision maker in the next step of the sales process. Oftentimes decision makers may not be directly involved in the specific use of a program or tool that addresses the business challenge you are looking to discuss. Therefore, qualifying an account and uncovering pain points and challenges could be managed through a conversation with someone other than a decision maker. However, the decision maker will ultimately have the authority to implement your offering and will need to get involved at some stage in the sales process. To avoid a cold conversation with a decision maker, get all of the pertinent information you can from the prospect you wish to transform into a “champion” first.
2. Get them informed
Once an account has been qualified and deemed as a good fit for your offering, it’s time to move on to the next step. Provide “champion” prospects with case studies, whitepapers, and slide decks. Even if the prospect is not the final decision maker, having tangible items that they can forward to their boss or a board of directors can be extremely helpful. It’s easy for details discussed during your initial conversation to be forgotten or used in an incorrect context when being retold second-hand. Written materials can help back up live conversations and provide the resources needed to represent your offering in a cohesive and accurate manner.
3. Make the prospect feel important
Just because they are not the final decision maker does not make a prospect irrelevant to the conversation. Make sure to invite them to join the next step of a sales cycle if appropriate. This will also add credibility when you have the decision maker on the line. Sometimes the person that makes the final decision may not be aware of the pains or challenges their colleagues are experiencing. Regardless of whether the prospect ends up joining the call or not, be sure to acknowledge how they have helped you along the way.
Example: “Your IT Manager Joe gave me a detailed overview of XYZ, here’s where we would come in…”
4. Cater your messaging
Make sure you cater your messaging to the prospect, and then ultimately, the decision maker. Maybe you have technical messaging for the IT manager, but more broad-picture messaging for the IT executive in the C-suite who is familiar with different terminology based on their varying responsibilities. Do your pre-call research on Linked-In, Twitter, etc., to determine just what kind of language your prospects are used to.
5. Close the meeting with the prospect & decision maker
Sometimes prospects get cold feet or try to brush you off when it comes to getting their decision maker involved in the sales process, even when it has been decided that your offering is a good fit. Instead of asking “are you the final decision maker,” ask a broader question such as “who would be involved in this kind of decision? We typically include anyone from managers to VP’s to make the best use of your time.” Once you get the decision maker’s name, set up the meeting and most importantly, thank the prospect!
Sometimes it’s hard to get a decision maker on the phone, whether it’s a busy C-suite executive or a VP who is managing several projects. SDRs can use the above tips to not only prospect more effectively, but also set up better, more qualified opportunities for their closing reps. Regardless of a prospect’s authority in the decision making process, they are important to the sales cycle. Help to make prospects look like a champion to their decision maker, and more importantly help make your SDRs to look like a champion to the prospect!