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how do I get past the secretary

kkrafts58kkrafts58 subscriber Posts: 12
edited May 2015 in Sales
When you`re out cold calling, how do you get past that person at the front desk and get to the decision maker? Everyone has been suggesting that I market to hospital gift shops, but the sweet volunteer ladies there, shoot me down before I get 10 words out of my mouth, even though they are not the ones deciding what`s sold in the gift shop. Other people have told me they have the same problem in thier types of business. They`ll get thier name out and be told, we already have that service, or we don`t need that service. Even though they might be told that they can save thousands of dollars per year. How do you get past that person at the desk? For me, I have the problem of curling up into a ball and afraid of being put down at the next one. Help


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    omupasomupas subscriber Posts: 7
    Ah the wonderful world of getting past the gatekeeper =)  The most important part of the call is the opening of the call.  What are you saying in your first sentence?  You want to keep the opening as generic as possible so that there is a sort of ambiguity of who you are and why you are calling.  The "gatekeeper`s" job is to weed out what they perceive to be a "sales" call.  A generic/ambiguous opening makes the gatekeeper think that the owner already either has an existing relationship or account with your company.  Once past the gatekeeper, you can get down to business, as the decision maker is the one you want to be speaking with anyway =)
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    RumpelstiltskinRumpelstiltskin subscriber Posts: 1
    Try the "Trojan Horse" method. Tell the Secretary/gatekeeper (usually a Female) that you are offering "free-samples" (whatever you`re selling), or complementary something. Try this: "Hello! "FREE CANDY" is my name! And I would like to send you (sorry! What is your name)...bla..bla."  Sounds crazy right? - It`s not!
    This should at least "disarm" that person. Offer the gatekeeper something that is especially directed at them (most secretaries feel they "run the joint" anyway  -  as MOST DO! And welcome ANY due compensation they can get). Then ask to speak to THE MAN behind the double doors.
    It`s like throwing a STEAK to a watchdog.
    Unless your free samples (products) are expensive.Rumpelstiltskin2007-3-21 13:1:16
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    kkrafts58kkrafts58 subscriber Posts: 12
    I never thought about offering something to the gatekeeper, Only the decision maker. So that could work. Also, what if I don`t know who the decision maker is? And the generic opening? Give me an example. I`ve never been the type that  pushes sales, I`ve always been a believer in "if they want it they`ll buy it". But, now that I`m on my own, it`s a different story. I`ve been working on the backdoor approach, flyers, brochures, price lists in the mail, but help me have the confidence in myself to go face to face. I have confidence in my products, and do well with repeat sells and referrals, but not the cold calling.
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    RumpelstiltskinRumpelstiltskin subscriber Posts: 1
    I am a lot like you! And WE are a lot like most OTHERS. Therefore, a little "stagefright" is normal (that`s what we`re really talking about). But heck! As I get older - the less I care!  Are these people (prospects) ever going to show up at my door saying: " Hey! That was a so-so attempt to circumvent my superior armor - what were you thinking! -  I am greater than you".      Answer: NO! 
    Generic opening?  Well, if you`re selling COOKIES.   Rinnnng..Rinnng..Rinnng. ( Them:  Hello! - I Can`t be bothered with you Incorporated).  YOU: Free COOKIES are coming your way Lucky Lady!  (Them: They ARE?)  YOU: That`s right!  What is your name?  (Them: Mrs. Much More Pleasant than I would be without the FREE COOKIE TALK).
    Think of yourself as Dr. Phil trying to creat an "AWAKENING" within  the heart of some pure & lonely PHONE DRONE!  Have fun with it.Rumpelstiltskin2007-3-21 15:14:22
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    ModJulieModJulie subscriber Posts: 1
    Here is a great article from a blog I happened upon a few months ago.  While it is not directed to Hospital gift shops per se, it does give one shop owner`s perspective on being approached by vendors.  I found it very interesting, because the auther is not only a shop owner but also a designer of handmade goods, so she understands both sides of the coin, so to speak.
    I hope this helps.
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    MiserAdMiserAd subscriber Posts: 2
    Get the decision makers name.  Call after work hours and leave a message on the voicemail saying that you will be in area and will stop in the office at 10am the next morning.  Show up and say that you have a meeting at 10am with the decision maker.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn`t!
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    kkrafts58kkrafts58 subscriber Posts: 12
     That was a great article ModJulie, I  recommend it for all entrepreneurs, even if they aren`t crafters like me, especially part 2of her post. She gives some good advice on selling.
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    CheerDirectorCheerDirector subscriber Posts: 4
    I spent the first 12 years of my career being the "gatekeeper" for CEO`s and presidents of mid sized firms.  The biggest part of my job was to manage the time of a very busy executive.  I was regularly contacted by sales people who insisted on speaking to the president.  It is rare that the president or CEO is the person you wish to speak with.  I was always more helpful to those people who approached me as a person, explained their service or product and asked who they should speak with. 
    The executive assistant to the president of a company is a wealth of knowledge.  They know the ins and outs of almost any department in the company.  Just another perspective from the other side...
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    kkrafts58kkrafts58 subscriber Posts: 12
    I, too, was a gatekeeper, but a nice one. So for me to approach an unapproachable one it throws me off. Everyone has been so helpful on this question that I think I`m about ready to put all the good points together and go out and meet some new prospects. Thanks once again.
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    DeniseMMDeniseMM subscriber Posts: 6
    Hi kkrafts:
    What you`ve written about in your post is exactly the reason why I wrote my book, "Testosterone-Free Marketing."  You see, part of this is the fact that yes, indeed you need a strategy to get past the gatekeeper - but the other part of the equation in this whole scenario is how you`re feeling about the whole thing and the fact that you don`t see yourself as a sales person.  I mentor women five days a week who are in their own businesses and suddenly find themselves in the situation where they have to sell and they have come across as more strong than they`re naturally comfortable with.   And quite honestly it makes them really uncomfortable - just like it`s making you feel.  
    Millions of women out there in the US were raised being told that to try to sell or persuade is not nice or ladylike.  And that message may even be on a subconscious level.  But it means that we`re more likely to back down and it also means that we`re less likely to get what we want in our businesses. 
    It may appear to some people that we`re not as dedicated or serious about our businesses - but it`s not true.  It just means that we were raised with a certain code of behavior that makes selling and getting past the gatekeeper very uncomfortable - so much so that sometimes it even creates stress for us. 
    We have awesome relationship building skills and wonderful abilities to "read" people and situations but some women lack when it comes to leading and directing a conversation - and that`s the first thing you really have to be willing to do to sell anything - including getting past the gatekeeper.
    All the best,
    Denise Michaels, Author, "Testosterone-Free Marketing"
    Visit me online at http://www.MentoringwithDenise.com</A>
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    TaylorMadeTaylorMade subscriber Posts: 0
    Hi, kkrafts
    I was a gatekeeper for too many years to count before starting my Virtual Assistance practice... and would like to offer the some suggestions that worked with me:
    Treat the person as a person.  As CraigL and Kindra both said... it is the job of the EA to protect their boss, help them manage their time and weed out the time-busters.  Bribing them, smoozing them and otherwise patronizing them is the fastest way to be shut down. 
    Short story:  I was talking with a very pushy, but disarming, salesperson who wanted access to my boss, the CEO.  After the second call, I received a dozen roses and a large box of chocolate with some hokey note about how grateful he was to "Dave`s girl" for passing on the information and how he hoped I would get him a meeting.  The most offensive part of this was his lack of respect for me as a professional EA.  My boss was going to take the meeting based on the information I collected and presented, but the attempt at bribing me to do so was so "good ole boy" that even the CEO told him how offended he was.
    So, talk to the gatekeeper as you would the exec your trying to get to.  Even if you`re eventually turned away, they will have the information to pass on to the person who you really need to see, and you will have more success because senior execs do rely on their EAs to use their own judgment for most everything.  And, Kindra is right when she says the EA is the most knowledgeable person in the company.
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    rbrucerbruce subscriber Posts: 1
    Hi KKrafts,
    I have had the most success with just being upfront and honest. I believe in my products and that comes across in my calls. Try coming across this way: People love a good story, ask that person for their help, make their day, ask them what it takes to get in the door. BE SINCERE
    , my name is Rob and I was hoping you could help me gather some information I am needing, I know you are busy but do you have a moment? Thanks I appreciate it. I have this
    and it seems to fit nicely with what you do. I am sure it could be of benefit, who would I need to speak with............. you have been such a huge help, thanks again and have a wonderfull day.
    Then call back after hours and leave that Gatekeeper a message thanking them again.
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    CookieCookie subscriber Posts: 2
    the sweet volunteer ladies there, shoot me down before I get 10 words out of my mouth, even though they are not the ones deciding
    But those sweet volunteer ladies are the people who have the name of the person you need to speak to, the buyer.  I`m surprised you weren`t given the name when you asked for it but maybe you just got their one cranky volunteer.  Call back another day, another time & I bet you`ll get a volunteer who will provide the name, give the buyer`s extension number, etc. etc. 
    My advice is to always jot down the name & any info you gather from the receptionist.  It may be a bunch of calls until you finally reach the person you need to speak with & it`s going to go much faster if you get the receptionist in your corner.
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    kkrafts58kkrafts58 subscriber Posts: 12
    Wow! It`s been quite awhile since I`ve seen a post from here and today there are 2 new ones. I think my biggest problem is the cold calling and the fear of being turned away. Some people tell me to take a complimentary basket and others tell me not to. I`ve found that if I do a complimentary basket, it is a general one for everyone in the office to enjoy. I also include a brochure and some of my business cards. I`ve found some of the nicest gatekeepers and then the ones that don`t even let you open your mouth. I am thankful for all the different ideas that everyone has been giving me. It really helps keep my confidence up.
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    kkrafts58kkrafts58 subscriber Posts: 12
    Hi Salesdude, sorry it`s taken me so long to reply. First, WELCOME! to SuN. where you will find friendly people, and help if you need it. Thank you for your advice, I never thought about lunch times and after everyone else goes home. I know from experience that many times the owner stays after the gatekeeper leaves, but I don`t think that`s the case, when it comes to hospital gift shops, but I will try the two call approach.Thanks, and once again Welcome to SuN.Karen
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