How to Identify and Approach the Decision-Makers at a Company

Updated: December 20, 2021

Identifying decision-makers at a company is an important skill for business professionals. Decision-makers are individuals who have the power to make or break your pitch, put you on the shortlist, or give you an interview.


They are the gatekeepers who can help you realize your career goals. However, not all decision-makers are created equal. There are different types of decision-makers that require different approaches.


The following list will show you how to identify and approach these different types of decision makers, depending on the situation.



Identifying the decision-makers


Identifying the decision-makers at a company is a first step to understanding how to approach them. There are two different types of decision-makers: those who make final decisions and those who make recommendations.


In order to identify decision-makers, ask yourself these questions:

-Who is the person with the power to make a final decision?

-Who can make a recommendation?

-Who is authorized to make a decision?

-Who makes a final decision at their desk?

-Who has the authority to approve an expenditure?

-Who has the authority to sign off on a project?


If you can’t identify a decision-maker, then it’s time to get out of your comfort zone and find someone who can. If you have questions, there’s nothing wrong with contacting the HR department and asking for assistance.


Approaching the decision-makers


The decision-maker is the CEO


If you are trying to pitch the CEO, it’s important to have a solid understanding of their background. It’s crucial to know what they like and don’t like in order to make your pitch more effective.


When you are in front of the CEO, make sure that you are confident in your pitch. Make sure that you’re not using fancy words or phrases that they don’t understand. Try to keep your pitch short and to the point, and be prepared to answer any questions they might have.


The decision-maker is the president


When you are approaching the president, it is also important to be confident in your pitch. You want them to feel like it is easy for them to say yes.


Try to show them how your product or service will help them meet their goals. Again, they will most likely have questions for you, so be prepared to answer them.


The decision-maker is the vice president


Pitch the vice president just like you would the president, but with one tweak: try to incorporate their goals with your product or service. This will show them how your product or service will help them reach their goals.


The gatekeepers


The gatekeepers are the people who control access to the decision maker. For example, the gatekeeper of a company may be the receptionist or administrative assistant.


The gatekeeper will usually have a lot of information about the company and the decision maker, and they may even have a relationship with the decision maker themselves.


If you want to get in touch with the decision maker, you need to go through the gatekeeper. If you can gain access to them by using a little charm or a well-timed compliment, you may be able to get through to the decision maker without having to go through a screening process.


If you find yourself trying to go around the gatekeeper, it’s likely that you’ll need to work your way up from someone else in the company, or call them multiple times before they will let you speak with their boss.


The gatekeepers are also great sources of information about the company and decision maker. If you can get on their good side, they may be willing to share a few secrets with you, too!


Decision-maker in a large company


If the decision-maker you’re looking to win over works in a large company, you’ll need to take a different approach than if they work in a small company.


In the case of large companies, you should identify the person who has the power to make the decision, and then contact that person’s assistant. This is the person who will be able to route your request to the decision-maker.


So how do you find this person?


The single best way is to call the company and ask for their HR department. Or, you can visit the company’s website and look for an email address belonging to HR.


Send your email to this person and ask for their assistance in reaching the decision-maker. Remember to be polite and be patient, because this may take some time.


No time to wait around for a response? Dig around on the company’s LinkedIn page or use a contact database like Apollo.io

Decision-maker in a small company


If you are trying to identify the decision-maker in a small company, it can be easy to do. Simply visit the company’s website and look for the person in charge of marketing, public relations, or sales. You can also call the company and speak with someone directly.


If you are lucky enough to speak with the decision-maker, make sure to mention why your company is a perfect fit for their needs. You should also mention what you will offer as a result of the partnership.


For example, if you are talking with a decision-maker at a small company that produces organic products, you could tell them about your organic farming experience and how it would help their business meet its goals.


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