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Can I speak with your boss?

Inside Sales Techniques to Use on Non-Decision Makers

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

Ideally, salespeople want only to 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, whether they sell by phone or face-to-face. This is why salespeople need a “tool” in their sales tool kit to effectively get to the next step in the sales cycle when dealing with non-decision makers.

The problem is when a salesperson 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 salesperson is going to hear an emphatic “NO.”

99.9% of the time, when a salesperson asks a non-decision maker to speak with their boss, the salesperson is rejected. It’s a FAILED sales strategy. Yet, most salespeople keep running that same play and get nowhere with it.

New Game Plan

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 to whom you need to speak, 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 why it’s in their best interest 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 their hot buttons/pain points 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, 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

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


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