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How to target decision makers in a business

Learn how to properly target and find the right decision makers in prospect business to sell your product or service to
Marc Duke

/ Last updated on 30th October 2017

A well dressed man in a suit and tie working on an apple mac laptop

We have a fridge magnet in our kitchen with the following quote “Do you want to talk to the man in charge or to the woman who knows what’s going on?” It’s a cute quote as I open the door looking for food but a very relevant one when it comes to B2B marketing. Why? Read on.

Related: A guide to LinkedIn Marketing

Effective B2B marketing is all about building a sales pipeline while keeping existing customers happy. In the start-up realm we tend to be in a very different place: we need customers and advocates fast, and marketing has a key role to make this goal a reality. However, while we are thinking about coming up with creative and funky marketing stunts, there are three letters we just can’t ignore, BDM – the business decision maker.

With consumer marketing, this is a relatively simple equation. The consumer decides to buy the product and consumers, so target them directly with the right message, price promotion, etc. and it’s a job done. Get a celebrity to wear or endorse the product and customers will ‘want it’.  On the business front it’s not so simple, granted it depends on the product/service being marketed and its value, but the process is a lot more complex.

Let’s take the example of something like business software, ignoring features and cost. We have to think about the people that will use it, the people that will approve the corporate purchasing and the people who will have to support those using it or adding it to existing software. That’s three distinct audiences that need to know different things about the software.


The next thing we need to consider is the time it takes to purchase. Again, it depends on who you are selling the product/service to, for large corporates some tender cycles can take years, with smaller businesses it a purchase can take as long as the click of a mouse. After that, we move to the question of how we reach the decision maker, is it directly (via direct mail/email marketing/telemarketing) or is it through partners/resellers (partner marketing – it’s a whole topic on its own). We then need to create an integrated marketing campaign by audience, that is both targeted to the decision maker telling him/her what he/she needs to know and to the other players. We need to be consistent across all communication channels – web, social media, brochures, exhibition stands, adverts, etc. It’s simple in theory, but in reality, much more challenging.

So where do you start?

Don’t laugh – talk to the sales guy before he or she asks you where the leads are (sales and marketing integration in action) and find out what is the title of the people he/she is currently speaking to, find out what questions they are asking and how they are being answered. This will give you the opportunity to refine the current marketing campaign and enable you to set some solid targets about the number of decision makers reached and leads generated (sounds salesy I know, but trust me it will make life a lot easier in the long run.) Ultimately as marketers, we need to know exactly who to speak to, be it the person who knows what’s going on or the one who is in charge.

Related: What is market segmentation?

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