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  • Diana Schneidman

Getting your sales phone call past the gatekeeper

There’s a lot of talk in telephone-sales circles about “getting past the gatekeeper.” However, in my experience, gatekeepers are golden. I don’t see why you’d want to “get past them.”

Gatekeepers can tell you who in the company actually uses your type of service and give you the direct phone number. I’ve actually had administrative assistants do this for me in companies that have super rigid rules in the employee handbook about blocking outside callers.

They can assess your potential contribution to a project and, in effect, make your sales pitch for you. They can present your contact info to their manager as an important resource—or they can dump it right in the trash.

Once you have an assignment, they can be your day-to-day contact, letting you know when the boss will be back from vacation, overnighting background info and explaining the company’s positioning, marketing and everything else just as effectively (or even better) than anyone else on the project.

And they can help you get your invoice paid promptly. Back when I was a single mother of three and living paycheck to paycheck, on several occasions I called the admin and asked for her help. (In practice, the vast majority were female.) I explained that her company was my most important client this month and now I really am counting on their check to pay my bills by the first of the month. Sympathy for my difficult situation got her out of her chair and talking to her friend in accounting much more effectively than threats about small claims court and collection agencies. (As though Fortune 500 clients are scared.)

As an aside, the admin has probably calculated your annual income by multiplying your hourly rate by 40 hours per week for 50 or 52 weeks per year. Very unrealistic, we know. You are not obliged to open your books to her, but depending on the flow of the conversation, you may want to free her from a misconception of how much money you have flowing in.

In working with an admin, be friendly and appreciative. The last thing you want is to be dismissive and condescending towards her.

After all, our services are all about helping people. When clients buy our services, we’re helping everyone on the marketing team, including the administrative assistant.

Originally posted 4-6-09

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