Secretary, personal assistant, office manager, receptionist, gate-keeper. They go by many different titles, but their main purpose is all the same. To make sure the decision maker’s valuable time isn’t taken up by needless interruptions. Gatekeepers are a necessary evil in everyday business. You may see them as a pain in the rear, but in fact like all of us, they are merely trying to do a job. And believe it or not they are human. How many times have you been in the middle of dinner, the phone rings your spouse answers and it’s a telemarketer. If he/she is like most spouses, they will screen the call first before handing the phone over to you. This is the job of the gatekeeper. To act as a screener for the boss or spouse. Getting past the gatekeeper can be challenging but not impossible.
First you must pre-qualify the information that you already have regarding the decision maker (name, title).
Ask the assistant “who is the person handling the insurance for the company”. Or. ” Who is in charge of the specific services/product you are providing(insurance, graphics,
Printing)? The person who answers the phone will probably be able to tell you who the decision maker is even if they don’t allow you to speak with him/her. So let’s say for example that you are calling Sue Smith at Sue’s Body Shop. But instead of getting Sue, you get her assistant. Her assistant’s job like any good assistant is to govern which calls require Sue’s immediate attention and which will receive a phone call at a later date or voice mail. Here is an example of what a conversation might sound like.
Tm: Hello, is Sue in?
Gk: Who is this?
Tm: This is Tony Wilkins calling for Wilkins Insurance Services. I’m trying to reach the person in charge of accepting proposals for the worker’s compensation for the company. I was told that it was Sue.
Gk: Sue is the person who handles the insurance but she is tied up right now can I take a message?
Tm: Does she have voice mail?
Gk: Yes she does let me transfer you.
There are a couple of points I’d like to make regarding this conversation. First, always try to get the assistant on your side. You don’t get anywhere by making an enemy out of the person who probably has as much info on the company as the owner/president. Second, be straight forward with the assistant. If you are coy or evasive with him/her, the assistant will pick up on it. You want this person on your side so be direct and simply tell him/her the purpose of the call. Third always ask if the decision maker has voice mail. If you get a particularly nasty person on the phone, the chance that the decision maker will in fact receive an unbiased message from you decreases. So be sure to leave a message. Next, be sure to send some information to the decision maker which helps to insure that they know who you are and what you can do for them. If you still haven’t received a return phone call from the prospect then you may want to send a voice or e-mail to his attention. If you don’t have an e-mail for the prospect then be sure to go on-line to the firm’s website. There may be a link to the person’s e-mail address or fax number (fax an intro letter to the contact works too). In the meantime be sure to continue leaving messages for the prospect while becoming more friendly with the assistant. Here are a few tips to help you get through the rough spots.
Ã? Be empathetic to the assistant’s job.
Ã? Don’t take the assistant’s rejection personally.
Ã? Be professional and direct, without being threatening.
Ã? Be interested in the person on the other line.
Ã? Always sound relaxed and comfortable.
Ã? Leave a message on voice mail when applicable. Or fax an intro letter
More tips on the gatekeeper
Ã? Be upfront about the purpose of your call.
Ã? Converse with the person on the other end.
Ã? Be respectful of the prospect’s time
How many messages should you leave on voicemail? No more than two or three. Otherwise you begin to make a pest of yourself.
This is an except from my book “Telemarketing Success for Small and Mid-sized Firms” available at http://stores.ebay.com/telemarketing-success or via e: mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 415-267-4872
Tony Wilkins is the owner of Telemarketing Consulting Services and author of "Telemarketing Success for Small and Mid-sized Firms´ available in most bookstores and online at www.amazon.com and www.xlibris.com you may also find out about his workshops and services at http://stores.ebay.com/telemarketing-success or via e: mail at email@example.com or phone 415-267-4872 .If you´d like to be notified of a new posting for this column, please contact Tony Wilkins at firstname.lastname@example.org