Guerilla Tactics: How to Find A Decision Maker Part 2

by Scott - 4 Comments

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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:

  1. I’ll search for [likely position] + at [company name] +  said – i.e. (VP of marketing at SinglePlatform said)
  2. 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.

Finding the decision maker 2 years ago is no good unless you’re leveraging that to find the current one ; )

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?


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4 comments, add to the conversation.

  1. Andres Moran

    If you have a competitor that is doing business with a company you’d like to reach out to, one sly way is to use LinkedIn to see who your counterpart at the competitor is connected to at the target company. There’s a good chance you’re connected on LinkedIn with some of your competitors, and there’s a good chance they’re connected with their contacts at the client.


    1. ScottBritton

      That’s a great call.

      If I’m connected to them, I always try to monitor who people at competitive companies are connecting with on LinkedIn because its indicative of who they’re talking to/potentially partnering with.


      1. Ryan Ridgway

        That’s an awesome point as well! I liked the idea of using previous work history, it’s rare that a DM will switch companies or take a pay-cut. If they help the role of supervisor or VP at their previous position, it’s often safe to say they’ll resume a similar role at their current position. Good call! – and great article. Cheers – Ryan


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