One of the most common mistakes we see sales reps make: they only call the contact on the lead, and make little-to-no effort to reach a decision-maker.

After all, most sales teams employ the “tried and true” BANT philosophy that a lead cannot qualify as opportunity if there is a blocker on Budget, Authority (to purchase), Need, or Timeframe. (We actually prefer the CHAMP methodology over BANT.)

We’re here to tell you that assessing the authority of a lead does not end with the specific contact associated with that lead. A sales rep should never drop a lead because of authority unless they absolutely cannot reach the buyer persona – in B2B business, usually an executive or other key influencer.

Teach your reps to prospect into the account, not just into the single contact on a lead.

Gain insight from low-level contacts

When you find out the contact on your lead lacks the authority to buy, don’t just say “thanks anyway” and hang up. That employee knowns valuable information about the company, your target decision-maker (their boss), and her pain points, needs and concerns. The more you can engage this person in a dialogue and dig for that information, the better your pitch will be to that decision-maker when you call them later.

Ask questions like:

  • How many people are on your team? Is your team growing?

  • Who runs your team?

  • What kind of meetings do you have?

  • What do you talk about at those meetings?

Catch hints in the contact’s responses that you can turn into other questions. Avoid buzzwords and phrases that could turn him off, like “pain point” or “what is your VP’s name and contact information?” Be casual and subtle – have a conversation.

Call the decision-maker

Use the insight you gathered from your lead to frame the conversation with their boss. Tell her that you spoke with Joe from her department and he said X, Y and Z about their processes, and you have some suggestions. Take a contextual approach to the call rather than giving an elevator pitch.

If you’re blocked by a receptionist, check out our blog post on how to get past gatekeepers to reach decision-makers quickly.

Authority should never be a make-or-break factor in qualifying an opportunity. Your sales reps should see a call with low-influencers as an opportunity to pan for information that will be useful when they reach the decision-maker.

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