Getting a Non-Decision Maker to Get You to the Decision Maker

“How do you get a Non-Decision Maker to put you in contact with the real Decision Maker?”
– Michael Pedone

Ideally salespeople want to only be calling the real decision makers, however, that is simply not a reality.  Interacting with non-decision makers is a daily occurrence for B2B salespeople no matter if they sell by phone or face-to-face. This is why salespeople need a “tool” in their sales tool kit they can use to effectively get to the next step in the sales cycle when they are dealing with non-decision makers.
The problem is when a sales person recognizes they aren’t speaking with the true decision maker, they typically ask one of the following types of sales questions:
  •        Can I speak with your boss?
  •        Can you put me in touch with your boss?
  •        Is your boss available?

Now we all know what happens next. The sales person is going to hear an emphatic “NO”. 99.9% of the time when a sales person asks a non-decision maker if they can speak with their boss, the sales person is rejected. It’s a FAILED sales strategy. Yet, most sales people keep running that same play and get nowhere with it.

Once you’ve identified a hot button / pain point that the prospect is interested in solving, there are several better plays to run once you’ve identified your prospect as a non-decision maker. Here’s one that is simple to execute and is met with little resistance from the prospect:
  •      “Mr. Prospect, if you were me, how would you proceed from here?”

Possible answers your prospect may give you:
  •       “Well, I’d recommend you reach out to…” BINGO! They give you the person’s name that you need to speak to and you can even use a “referral opener” when contacting the true decision maker.
  •        “Hi Mrs. Decision Maker, I was speaking with “NON-DM’s Name” regarding “HOT-BUTTON” and he asked me to give you a call…”

Another way they could answer is:
  •       “You can give me the information and I’ll bring it to him/her.”

In which one reply you could use would be:
  •        “I appreciate that however here’s the problem – If we go down that road, chances are high that this will get pushed aside which means you don’t get a solution to help you solve/overcome (hot button). So to avoid that from happening, what else would you recommend?”

In essence, you are selling them on why it’s in their best interest for them to help you get in touch with the real decision maker, without asking them directly, which almost always leads to “no”.
What if They Still Say “NO”? If they make a case for why they are the person to go through first, you have a decision to make. You CAN close deals and never speak with the ultimate sign-off person IF the person you are speaking with is a HIGH INFLUENCER. If, however, they are low on the decision-making totem pole (like an end-user) and have no power, you are better off PLANTING A SEED.

There are several “Planting a Seed” plays in my sales book and the one I’m referring to here is when you have a non-decision maker who is resistant to bringing in the other needed parties to the conversation. What I do is this… I give some basic highlights around the hot buttons / pain points of theirs that I discovered during the qualifying period, then I give them a price range (low to high) and tease it with the hint that some possible incentives may be available. I let them know I will email them the outline / info and if they want to talk further after discussing this with their boss, to let me know.
I do NOT do a full presentation. I won’t waste my time. As I mentioned earlier, there are several plays you can run when you are speaking with a non-decision maker. Just like a mechanic will have certain tools to use in specific situations, you want to have several different sales plays you can run, depending on which sales situation you are faced with.
The play outlined above has been very successful in getting me on the phone with the ultimate decision makers and I hope you find it useful as well.

Michael Pedone teaches inside sales teams how to pick up the phone and close business. He is the CEO/FOUNDER of – An online sales training company.

Compiled by Mel Carney with ProTrac. Mel can be reached at or 816-554-3010

Eliminate & Highlight


Dan Rockwell, keynote speaker & coach aims for the jugular with his two incisive points. 

#1. Eliminate distractions. Define what matters more by helping people stop wasting time, talent, and resources on what matters least. Try asking, “What are you doing that prevents you from giving your time and energy - to what matters now?”

While Dan’s comments are aimed at management, as sales professionals, we are own managers so it’s aimed at us.

Is there something that is preventing you from giving your whole self to those things which are of utmost importance, RIGHT NOW?

If there is - eliminate it from your thinking!

#2. Highlight progress while working to make things better, ask -
“How can we make this better?”
No matter how great it is, it can be greater,
That’s your job!

For more info on Dan –, Inc. Magazine Top 50 Leadership & Management Expert

Information compiled by Mel Carney, Sales Professionals Edumacation Chair. Mel can be reached at 800-711-7374 or

That One Thing

“That One Thing”
So often, in sales, we are faced with an owner or strong manager who has to have that ONE THING from your product or service.  I believe it is “Murphy’s Law” that says that no matter what your product or service will do, it will never do that “ONE THING”. 

Regardless of how silly or off the wall the request is – If you do not resolve this issue, with the owner or the manager, then your proposal will not be seen by anyone else in the company.

You can mark through that prospect and tell your boss that:
·      They did not have the money
·      You had consulted your Feng Shui Crystal Globe and the desk is definitely on the wrong side of the office
·      Or any of the other reasons that we come up with when we lose a customer.

My friend Bob Heinzinger recommends using the 3 part Why Question, as the best offense when working with a very strange product or a service request.  Often that product or service is not now, nor ever will be in your product mix!  So you need to put the quietus on the request.

We give a 14% discount on this set of products on Tuesdays
1.    Why do you do you give that discount on Tuesdays?
a.    An old customer had to have discount on these products
2.    Why do you do that process the way that you do on Tuesday?
a.    The customer only orders on Tuesdays 
3.    Why has it spread to all customers the rest of the week?
a.    You know I really am not sure why we expanded that program…

My questions are based on wholesale distribution.  Each of the Sales Professionals needs to think of “That One Thing Request” that you get from a prospect and include your own list of Why questions. It will make you better prepared, when it happens.

 The point:  Use as many WHY QUESTIONS as necessary to resolve or clarify the issue.

For one customer I was able to take care of that “One Thing” that the old man wanted.  Then when we started the installation, that one thing was not important anywhere else in the installation.  That “Thing” might have come in at 750 out of a 1000 things that they company really needed.  It is very important to cover that “Thing” for the Owner, but do not bet the house on just getting that One Thing done. You have to survey the rest of the company to ensure that your proposal will “Cook (All of) the Rice” when your product or service is installed.   

~ Mel Carney