As an account executive, it is your job to guide prospects through the decision-making process. From start to finish, you lead them through each step and towards the end goal: a closed sale. 

In this article, we will discuss decision-makers and the way they make their decisions. 

Decision-maker in business. First, we’ll discuss the importance of finding the right person to speak with at the company. This is the individual, or team of individuals, who has authority over the purchasing decision. They have the final say in the sale. In business marketing and sales, this is the person you should be negotiating with, not  a middle-person. 

Types of decision-makers. Each decision-maker in business will fit the mold for one of the five types of decision-makers listed below. These decision-making types were identified by Miller-Williams Incorporated during a two-year long study. 

Finding the Right Decision-Maker

During the data collection process at the beginning of your prospecting, you will need to determine who the decision-maker is at the company you are trying to sell. Just as they are different decision-making styles, there are different types of decisions at the business level. These can be anything from organizational, operational, programmed, non-programmed, financial, purchasing, etc. The person you want to speak to will differ based on the type of decision they will be making, so be aware of what exactly you are asking them to do. 

Step 1: Find the right decision-maker at the company.

The company’s website is the best place to start your search. Many organizations will list those in leadership roles directly on their website. If you can’t find what you’re looking for here, the next best place is LinkedIn.

Each company may have a different format for titling the roles within the business., so it’s important to pay attention to the titles of the prospects you are researching.  For instance, you may be looking for the Director of Sales, but the company may be using the title “Sales Director”.  Once you’ve found the right person to reach out to, make sure you find the right contact info for each individual.

Step 2: Find the correct contact info

Finding the right contact info as you build out your list of emails and phone numbers can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. Simplify the process with a browser extension like RocketReach Chrome extension or RocketReach Edge extension. Or, if you can’t find your contacts easily on LinkedIn Sales Navigator, use RocketReach’s Advanced People and Company Search. 

Step 3: Understand their individual decision-making process

Finding the right decision-maker is only the first step. Once you’ve completed your data collection and have the right contact (and the right contact info), you need to decide how best to approach them and pitch your product for the best results. 

The best way to approach your decision-maker will vary significantly based on a variety of factors. Their age, personality, background, company climate, and individual decision-making style will all affect how you should proceed. 

Miller-Williams Incorporated, a customer research firm, conducted a two-year study of more than 1,600 executives across a range of different industries focusing on how they made their purchasing decisions. They found that there are five different types of decision-makers, and each type makes their decisions very differently. 

Williams and Miller didn’t label any decision-making type as superior to another, just different. They also noted that 80% of all sales presentations focus on two types of decision-makers, but these two types only account for 28% of the surveyed executives. Speaking to the minority is counter-productive. But, speaking to the majority can also be problematic. 

Understanding and learning to identify the different types of decision-makers and how to sell to them specifically will result in a higher closing rate. 

The 5 Ways Decision-Makers… Make Decisions

Williams and Miller broke down the decision-making styles they identified into five different types: Charismatics, Thinkers, Skeptics, Followers, and Controllers. 

1. Charismatics (25%)

Charismatic decision-makers are typically sufferers of “shiny object syndrome.” They are easily excited by new ideas, but getting them to commit to the sale often proves difficult. This type of decision-maker is often talkative, dominant, and enthusiastic. They are a little contradictory in that they are both risk-seeking and responsible. 

Charismatics have a methodical decision-making process. Having learned from some earlier bad decision-making thanks to their initial enthusiasm, they want to know all the facts. If there is insufficient data to support the claims, they tend to lose interest and enthusiasm. 

Selling Charismatics: Include results-oriented information in your proposals and keep your arguments simple and straightforward. Be honest about risks, but counteract these with ways to minimize those risks. 

2. Thinkers (11%)

Thinkers are often logical, academic, and logical in their daily lives, making them difficult to persuade. They are more motivated by maintaining control than innovation. Understanding all sides and perspectives in a given situation is extremely important to them. Unsurprisingly, they do not like to take risks and want to be aware of risks upfront. 

Selling Thinkers: These types of decision-makers want quantitative information that is supported by actual data. They want as much information as you are able to provide them. Everything from market research to case studies to cost-benefit analysis can sway them in the right direction. 

3. Skeptics (19%)

Skeptics are, well, skeptical. They are often suspicious of the information being presented—particularly if that information challenges their existing knowledge or opinions. They can be disagreeable and disruptive, even combative in their interactions with others. 

Skeptics can be challenging to sell—and deal with—as they are not often respectful of your time. They may leave abruptly to take a call or interrupt your presentation to hold a side conversation. Luckily, you will likely know where you stand with skeptics as they are not known for hiding their feelings about a person or idea. 

Selling Skeptics: Establishing credibility is essential when selling to skeptic decision-makers. Be careful not to appear as though you’re challenging a skeptic, as reputation and ego are important to them. Though they can be challenging to sell, they often make decisions quickly. 

4. Followers (36%)

This is by far the most prevalent decision-maker amongst those surveyed. Followers are often worried about making the wrong decision and will seldom be early adopters of any product or service. They are responsible in their decision-making and often rely on proven successes. 

Followers are challenging to identify and are often mistaken for skeptics at first as they tend to challenge the information being presented. They want things that are both innovative and proven. 

Selling Followers: Followers want to follow in the footsteps of those who have succeeded before them. Focusing your attention on proven methods, customer testimonials, and case studies will get the right attention.

Controllers (9%)

Often described as unemotional, sensible, and analytical, Controllers are similar to Skeptics. Their personalities are often seen as overbearing, and they tend to favor their expertise over the expertise of others. They want facts and analytics and hate uncertainties but will often jump to illogical conclusions.

Controllers will not make decisions quickly and do not like to be rushed. 

Selling Controllers: The best way to sell Controllers is to let them sell themselves. Provide them with all of the data-backed information with structured, linear arguments presented by experts and let them convince themselves. 

Close More Sales With This One Simple Sales Tactic

The average person makes about 35,000 decisions each day. As a sales rep, you’ll help them make several decisions, both big and small. Ensure that your prospects are making the decision to work with you. Your pitch should match the decision-making style of the prospect. 

Once you’ve ensured you’re in front of the right decision-maker (with help from RocketReach), it’s time to determine what type of decision-maker you’re dealing with. Don’t sell your way; sell their way, and you’ll close more sales. 

Ready to start getting the correct contact information without the labor-intensive data collection? RocketReach can simplify the data mining process and give you more accurate results, so you’re spending less time researching and more time selling. Try it for free today

Supercharge your sales with RocketReach


How do I find the decision-maker at a company?

You should begin with the company website. If you can’t find the contact info you’re looking for there, it is recommended you try LinkedIn. Email lookup software, like RocketReach, can simplify the data collection process.

What are the different types of decision-maker?

Miller-Williams Incorporated conducted a two-year study of 1600 executives and discovered there are five different types of decision-maker. They are:
1. Charismatics
2. Thinkers
3. Skeptics
5. Controllers

How will understanding the types of decision-makers help me close more sales?

Understanding how people make decisions will allow you to adapt your approach to speak to their decision-making style. Providing the information they need to make a decision in your favor will result in a better close rate.