In the first part of this post, I shared how calling for a former employee can help you find a decision maker. Here’s a few other strategies to isolate the right contact at a large company.
Use Implicit Data on LinkedIn
Let’s revert back to the conundrum of there being 12 people in the marketing department and limited transparency to which one is responsible for your particular initiative. There’s a few places on a LinkedIn profile that contain implicit data from which you can draw conclusions.
The Skills and Expertise Section
The skills and expertise section contains granular endorsements (i.e. email marketing, social media, SEM). These can provide a strong indication what someone is responsible for at a particular company.
Say I was looking to connect with the person responsible for social media and had narrowed it down to 4 or 5 people within a company. If one of those employees had a ton of endorsements for social media, especially from other people within the company, odds are they are the point of contact. Below is the skills and expertise section of someone within the same marketing department as the example above. Can you make an educated guess which ones manages the ad spend and which one manages social media?
I’ve keyed off this section multiple times to successfully identify the point person at 1,000+ person companies.
Previous Job Description
Ideally people list a detailed job description under their current position. But tragically for many BDers, this often just isn’t the case. One thing you can do is review previous job descriptions. If someone was responsible for all digital marketing at their previous company a year ago, odds are they’re the marketing director whose managing digital at their current one. Is this 100% reliable? Of course not. But sometimes BD is about taking educated guesses using available data.
Call Human Resources
Depending on the company size, sometimes HR has an awesome pulse on who you should speak to within the company. When an administrative person can’t help me identify who I need to speak with, I’ll give HR a ring. I’ve found that they’re more likely to pick up the phone than someone random in my target department and can be pretty helpful.
When you get them on the phone, again, just use the ol “I was hoping you might be able to help me out. I’m looking for the person who manages X, and I thought you might be able to point me in the right direction. Any idea who that might be?”
Email Multiple People Simultaneously + Namedrop
Not too long ago I watched an excellent interview with David Siteman Garland and email pro Bryan Kreuzberger. I reccomend watching the interview in full, but in case you can’t, here are some cliffnotes on this tactic:
Subject: Appropriate Person
I am writing in hope of talking to the person who handles digital marketing. In that pursuit, I’ve also written to X,Y, and Z.
After this, you’ll need to indicate why you’re actually reaching out (watch the video in full for the exact script). The idea is to send this exact email to 4 likely decision makers simultaneously, adjusting the part about who else you’ve written to accordingly.
In my opinion, the brilliance of this tactic rests in the namedropping. By explicitly indicating that you’ve reached out to multiple people, you can take advantage of internal peer pressure. If your product sucks, no one will respond. But if you can convey that you might be able to provide value to an organization, there’s a solid chance the right person will get back to you. Why? Because it’s much harder for someone to sweep an email like this under the rug when they know other people have received it. Especially if their boss is one of those other people. More on the “calling up tactic” here.
Full disclosure: I use this tactic as a last resort because I think simultaneously emailing 4 people the exact same message looks less professional. Compare this with starting off an engagement by knowing exactly who the right person is through alternative means. I think the latter approach provides a stronger first impression. HOWEVER, I have had success using this tactic to find a decision maker and thankfully did not incur any negative consequences.
Use Google to Find Press Quotes
Quotes within a press release or article often will indicate who the person responsible for a particular initiative is. This isn’t incredibly novel, but I think there’s an effective way to do this that many people don’t know about.
I approach this in one of two ways:
- I’ll search for [likely position] + at [company name] + said – i.e. (VP of marketing at SinglePlatform said)
- I’ll search for [initiative] + at [company] – i.e. (Social Media at SinglePlatform)
In both cases I’ll highlight the News facet on the lefthand side to narrow my search results within a specific date range (i.e. within the last year). This helps me isolate the current decision maker.
These are a few less obvious tactics I use to find decision makers at large companies. What creative tactics have you used to find a decision maker?