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How to Use LinkedIn to Find the Decision Maker

Although generating a list of potential leads is a great first step in marketing your product on LinkedIn, being an effective salesperson often comes down to finding that “right person” with whom you can present an offer to buy something. This person is the decision maker (or the final authority, or even just da boss).

You can talk to as many administrative assistants and receptionists as you’d like, but without the exact name or contact info of the person who makes the purchasing decisions, your sales effort is stalled.

LinkedIn can help you reach that decision maker in the following ways:

  • When you perform an advanced search, include words like Account Manager, Director, or Vice President in the Keywords field. If your results show someone who’s in your extended network, now you have a specific name to mention when you call the company. Approach that person via LinkedIn and your mutual connections first, thereby making your first contact with her more of a “warm call” than a cold one.

  • Use the LinkedIn Company page to find out specific information about your target company. If you’re trying to reach someone within a company, see whether that person shows up as an employee on the Company page. To do so, click Interests on the top navigation bar and select Companies from the drop-down list that appears so you can search through LinkedIn’s Company pages.

    Say, for example, that you need to reach someone within LinkedIn. When you bring up LinkedIn’s Company page, you get some specific information right away.

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    You immediately see who in your network works for this company, so you know who to approach to pass along your request. Be sure to click the other tabs for this page — Careers, Products & Services, and Insights — to view other useful information, such as former employees, top skills and expertise at this company, similar companies or topics to this company, and most recommended people to connect with.

    You can then follow that company to see all its new updates and information as part of your LinkedIn News Feed, for example. At the top right of every company page is a Follow button. You can click the Follow button to stay in touch with that company’s activities.

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  • Use your existing network to ask for an introduction, advice, or to point you in the right direction. Using your network in this manner was basically the original intent of LinkedIn: You contact someone who works at your target company and ask that contact to introduce you to the decision maker. The decision maker is much more likely to be receptive to an introduction than a cold call.

    Your network connection might also recommend you to the decision maker, which carries some weight when you try to close the deal. In addition, you may have a select group of people in your own network that can provide advice on who to connect with, as well as advice or ideas on selling your product, service, or nonprofit organization.

  • Use InMail to contact people close to the decision maker. You may find that, in some cases, the decision maker may not be on LinkedIn yet, or her profile is closed to introductions and InMail. If so, you can use LinkedIn to find the closest person to the decision maker and ask that person for help, for a connection, or for information to help you reach the next level.

  • Use InMail to contact the decision maker if she is on LinkedIn. You may not have the time or opportunity to get introduced to your decision maker, and if you’re using InMail to approach the decision maker, why not just go for the gusto and introduce yourself directly?

    This is a faster option than waiting or asking for an introduction, but there’s the chance the decision maker will ignore your message. You have to decide what’s best for your situation.

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