There's one boogeyman that can keep even the most experienced salesperson up at night--and it's not a monster hiding under the bed. It's the dreaded receptionist trying to block you out.
Of course, these "monsters" are just men and women who are doing their job, and they can actually be very nice. However, their job is to keep you away from your high-level sales customers, and they can quickly become the bane of your existence.
However, there are three ways to get past the receptionist and connect to those valuable customers:
1. Go around them, not through them.
Salespeople are constantly asking me how to get through a difficult receptionist. The secret lies in not trying to get through them at all.
Instead, try going around them. To do so, it starts with understanding the life of a receptionist. As administrators or assistants, they rarely have bottom-line responsibilities, which means their jobs can usually be completed between the typical office hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Once you understand this, you realize that they won't be answering the phone before 8:30 a.m., after 6:30 p.m., or on a Saturday. High-level customers, on the other hand, are responsible for how their organizations are performing. This means they're much more likely to work odd hours or overtime.
By calling your customer early in the morning, later in the evening, or on a weekend, you'll be amazed at how much easier it is to avoid those receptionist altogether. With just a little strategic planning behind the timing of your calls, you can connect with any customer directly.
2. Be firm and authoritative.
Receptionists have two important yet conflicting responsibilities. On one hand, they're supposed to screen and block salespeople from talking to their boss. On the other hand, they're also responsible for ensuring the right person gets through without delay.
As a result, receptionists are always nervous about accidentally blocking a call from an important caller. Smart salespeople use that knowledge to their advantage.
Typical salespeople are extremely friendly and try to schmooze their way through the receptionist. Important callers, on the other hand, are firm and authoritative.
Instead of using a high-pitched sales voice, keep your greeting low-key and get straight to the point. This approach won't set off the receptionist's "salesperson radar," and you'll be far more likely to get through to your customers so you can sell directly to those C-suite buyers.
3. When asked questions, make your responses vague and concise.
If you're calling on a high-level customer, the receptionist on the phone is going to be a pro at their job. A firm tone of voice may not be enough to get through to the CEO or VP of a Fortune 1000 company. In this case, the receptionist will start asking you questions to ensure you aren't a salesperson.
For example, many receptionists will ask, "Where are you calling from?" If you say, "Oh, I'm calling with ABC Company," you're dead on arrival. Instead, keep your response vague yet concise.
For example, the next time someone asks where you're calling from, simply say "Boston," "New York," or whatever city you're calling from. By breaking the pattern of the typical salesperson's response, you can get through even the most seasoned receptionist.
When you implement these three strategies for getting past a receptionists, there's no need to be rude or mean--after all, these people are just doing their jobs. However, knowing how to play the game is the only way to get through to those high-level customers and ultimately close far more sales.
Have you ever tried one of these tips for getting past the receptionist? What was the outcome? Share your thoughts in the comments below.