How to Get the Decision Maker on the Phone | Sales Techniques 101

Samir Sampat

In B2B sales, there is a hierarchy that must be followed. You can’t just call up a company, pitch to the receptionist, and land a new client because the person answering the phone liked what you had to say. Businesses have two main categories of people: gatekeepers and decision-makers (DMs). In this guide, we’ll help you learn all about getting past the gatekeepers to get decision-makers on the phone faster and easier. 

In any kind of lead generation effort, the ultimate goal is to directly connect with the decision-maker and deliver your pitch so that you can book an appointment or secure the lead for further communications and future business potential. There may be several obstacles to overcome and a few different factors impeding the opportunity to reach the decision-maker. Some of these will be out of your control, which is why a creative approach and out-of-the-box thinking are always going to benefit you here. 


It's all in the opening


The gatekeeper is the one answering the phone and deciding whether they’re going to forward you to the requested individual for further communication. They wield an excessive amount of power in the eyes of a salesperson. As is the case in many situations, the first impression is everything here. If you keep your opener simple and make sure that you don’t step on toes, you’ll have a much better chance of actually getting through. 

Instead of dumping all the info out when you’re greeted, start by asking for the decision-maker by name. when the receptionist inquires about who is calling, you can give your name and title and then, if asked, let them know why you want to speak to the DM. 

Ultimately, less is more. Don’t give the typical “sales call” pitch when you are questioned about your intentions. Instead, act like you’re just another regular Joe looking to talk to Dave in purchasing about your new purchasing software. It’s even better if you’re casual enough to act like you already know each other or elude that he may be expecting you. You shouldn’t lie, of course, but if you’re following up on a lead, it might not be a complete lie after all. 

Provide your name and where you are calling from. Ask for the person you need to speak to. Leave it at that. If pressed, you can go on to explain the reason for your call or ask to have the DM give you a call back at their earliest convenience. And, speaking of not setting off the “sales call” alarm, avoid words like guarantee, free, no-obligation, revolutionary, innovative, etc. If it sounds like a “sales” word, skip it because gatekeepers will go into autopilot and immediately shut you down when they hear common sales phrases. 


Manners go a long way 


Sometimes, salespeople view the receptionist, or gatekeeper, as an enemy. In reality, they can (and should) become one of your best friends in the sales cycle. If you catch a good lead, you’ll be calling back more often, and you’ll likely reach them on a regular basis. Be polite and courteous, and most importantly, do not talk down to anyone. Sometimes, salespeople get ahead of themselves and are all amped up to make the sale and can come off as condescending, even if unintentionally. 

That will get you nowhere fast. 

And what if the gatekeepers or decision-makers aren’t as polite or willing to return the favor? Well, that’s on them. You’re representing your organization and they’re representing theirs. What kind of impression do you want your company to have? Be calm, professional, and stick to your “script” and focus on getting the desired outcome. Leave your emotions at the door. 


Consider adjusting when you call 


Too often salespeople and telemarketers complain about not being able to get decision-makers on the phone, only to confess that they’re trying to call at 9:00 AM every morning. Think about the typical workday—this is the hour when most people are getting to work, getting settled in, or starting their days. They don’t have time or the energy to field unwarranted and unwanted sales calls. 

Don’t call first thing after a weekend, on Friday afternoons, or during lunch hours (11:00 AM to 2:00 PM, just to be safe). Eliminating these time frames will reduce the odds of you getting the shaft by the gatekeeper or getting left leaving yet another message that may or may not get returned. 

Of course, if you’ve got a decision-maker that works odd hours or likes to take business calls after everyone has gone for the day, take advantage of that. If you know there is a time when you’re more likely to get their dedicated attention, take it. Feel free to test different times and tweak your call schedules so that you can improve your success rate. 


One last tip: know their name, title, and responsibilities


If you’re cold calling a business and you don’t even know who the decision-maker is, you’re not making a good first impression. You should take the time to do the research and learn about the company, who makes decisions related to the products or services that you offer, and so forth. Then, when you call, you can be more confident and it will appear that you aren’t just another cold sales rep because you know who you need to speak to, etc. 


Save the stress and partner with Smith.ai instead


In business, timing is everything. If you don’t have the extra time to rearrange your sales calls and try to reach decision-makers, consider outsourcing some of the work instead. For example, a partnership with the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can give you a great resource for outbound sales and support, lead screening and intake, appointment scheduling, and so much more. Plus, we’ll help you create a tailored plan to manage it all and keep your business growing. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss what the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can do to improve your sales calls, free up your time, and more. You can also reach us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 


Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing and Events Associate with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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