Just like mountain climbers hire trusted guides to help them reach the summit, as a sales person, if you want to sort through your business leads and find your decision maker quickly, you need to find a “guide” of your own who knows the territory and can help you get an appointment setting foothold within the “nooks and crannies” of the customer’s organization. Beyond trying to find that ever-elusive decision maker, as you work to qualify your business leads, you need to find the right person inside the company who you can build a relationship with, and who you can ultimately ask for help in cutting through the red tape and getting past the gatekeepers as you conduct your appointment setting calls. At the heart of this process is SSM’s referral development and networking process that helps us navigate through gatekeepers and screeners and gain contact with key decision makers.



Here’s how you find your guide to help you make the sale…


1) Let’s assume you want to know the name of the IT director (or the equivalent in the company in question) in a medium to large size company. First, build upon your existing network of contacts. See if you know anyone at the company, even if they’re not in the same department. See if you know anyone who knows anyone who works at the company. Even a few degrees of separation can yield enough of a personal connection to make it worth placing a call to help strengthen your business leads. For example, what if you know a fellow alumnus of your college who knows someone who works at the company? Wouldn’t it be worth exploring that connection? Using your college alumnus name as a referral source can open a clear path to key decision makers. In appointment setting, you’re always better off starting with a “warm” call rather than a totally cold call.


2) If you don’t have any inside connection, simply call the company and ask to be transferred in to the IT department. This is a critical starting point because many sales people make the mistake of trying to immediately obtain the name of their decision maker from the company receptionist. This is a mistake, because company receptionists and switchboard operators are not there to help sales people – they’re there to quickly route calls. The receptionist is well trained in dealing with sales people and often will recite the company’s policy on “no solicitations” and simply block your attempt to obtain the name of your decision maker. By moving to the IT department to find your decision maker, often the environment is more “open” because most sales people have already been screened out by the company receptionist.


3) Once someone in the IT department picks up, ask for the person you are looking for by phrasing your question in a manner that defines their position and better targets your specific product or service: “May I ask who is in charge of software development?” At the very least, you will get a name. Ask for the person who makes this sort of decision, and not some “Title” who may or may not be able to help you. After all, different companies have different job titles, and not every “VP of Software Development” is actually involved with making buying decisions about your exact product or service. This is a simple way to find your decision maker and can eliminate your contacting the wrong person.


4) After obtaining the name of decision maker from this gatekeeper its time to implement your referral development process. An easy way to start this process is by asking” maybe you can help me?” Now is your chance to build rapport and create a relationship with this or other intermediary level people who may be standing between you and the decision maker. This person on the phone with you can become your “guide” if you play it right. Don’t be in a hurry to get off the phone – instead, see if you can answer any questions they have. Offer some information that might be useful to them. Show them that you know something about their company. Explain that you’re in the same industry. Make sure to obtain their names and title and offer to email them some information of your services. Ask if they can forward this information on to your key decision maker. By now, you’ve had a chance to build rapport – not with the ultimate decision maker, but almost as important, with someone who might have influence on that decision maker.


At the very least, you now have a contact name inside the company and once you call the decision maker, you can simply say “Jan Johnson referred me to you in regards to [your offering].” This is also a very effective leave behind message when getting voice mail.


Just like you wouldn’t try climbing Mount Everest by yourself, you shouldn’t try to reach a decision maker without enlisting the support of a “guide” inside the organization. When you’re doing appointment setting calls, seek out someone familiar with the landscape to guide you to the right place. You’ll save time and avoid frustration, and you might even find that when you finally get to the stage of appointment setting, your decision maker knows who you are and is happy to talk.


Strategic Sales & Marketing is a “leading light” among lead generation companies, offering a full range of appointment setting services for complex B2B lead generation and qualifying B2B sales leads. Contact us for a Quick Quote on appointment setting services.