“Good morning, this is Canfield Packaging. How may I help?” said the office receptionist.
“Uh,” said Michael speaking a soft hesitant manner, “I think I need to speak to . . . yes, I think it’s Andy Canfield. But he might not be the right person. This is kind of embarrassing, not knowing for sure, do you think you could help me?”
“Certainly. What is this call for?”
“Again I’m not a 100 percent sure. Could I tell you what I think might be the reason and we go from there?”
“I usually speak with the head of the company about how our staff can help increase sales.” Michael paused for a moment and then went on, “But I have no idea if your company wants to increase sales. Do you?”
“Well, I guess we do.”
“Looks like we’re both in the same quandary . . . Oh, I’m Michael Stillson.”
“Hi, I’m Donna Verde.”
“Well, Donna, I think I have an idea how we can end our confusion.” He was prepared to wait until he got a response, however long it took.
“If our jobs were switched, and you needed to talk to someone about increasing sales, who would you want to talk to?”
“Well, Andy would be the best one. We do have a sales manager, but frankly, Andy is the one who really makes the decisions.”
“Would it be OK with you if, when I speak to Andy, I tell him how much of a help you’ve been to me?”
“You don’t have to do that; I mean that’s what I’m here for.”
“I appreciate that. Thank you.” Michael again was prepared to wait forever.
“Oh,” said Donna, “let me put you through to him now.”
Michael got through the office gatekeeper by letting the receptionist help. More importantly, he did everything on purpose, not by accident. Consider what Donna’s pattern will be the next time he calls. Chances are good that once again, she’ll want to help. Finally, besides getting through to Andy, Michael also found out that the sales manager may, at best, be an influencer.
How does an office gatekeeper know you are a salesperson? Ask 10 of them how they immediately know what you do, and the first tip-off is simple. You sound incredibly sure of yourself and no matter what is happening, incredibly upbeat.
What’s the first thing told to raw salespeople who use the telephone? Write and/or follow this script and sound sure of yourself. Sound upbeat. Never take “No” for an answer. Right?
So the moment the office gatekeeper hears this pattern, her response pattern is to immediately keep you out. She doesn’t even need to know your name, your company, or what you are selling. You are a salesperson. Slam the door shut. You provided the stimulus for her to respond in a set pattern. You set yourself up to be rejected.
Now, you can continue to follow the typical “I am a salesperson” pattern and spend hours on the phone beating office gatekeepers to death. Eventually you’ll get through in a very small percentage of cases. An even smaller percentage will listen. Is this the best way for you to spend your time?
Consider adopting Michael’s approach for a while. First, he states that the person he’s trying to reach might not be the right person. He then asks for the screen to help him. Then he waits.
Think about what is happening in the gatekeeper’s mind. She has no idea who this is, but he doesn’t sound like a salesperson. He just asked me for help. Do I dare say “No”? Of course not. Michael has forced her into a new pattern that he controls.
When she asks what the call is about, Michael once again gives her some information but then tags on that he isn’t sure exactly. He then asks her if she knows.
Of course she doesn’t know. How could she? Michael now completely controls what happens.
When he asks her how they could solve this problem, she offers to put him through to the person she thinks would be most helpful.
Finally, just before she does, he asks if it would be all right if he tells the person he’s about to speak to just how helpful she’s been.
Why do this? Simple, just as buyers have buyer’s remorse, Michael’s taking care of gatekeeper’s remorse.
If you sound OK, and need help, almost everyone will help you.
©1995, 2007 Sandler Systems, Inc and TEM Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. S Sandler Training Finding Power In Reinforcement (with design) and Tactics for Sales Professionals are registered service marks of Sandler Systems, Inc.