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