Sales Secrets for Getting by Receptionists, Gatekeepers



Getting past receptionists and other gatekeepers is a universal challenge for salespeople. Successful salespeople, however, have the right insights and approaches for success.

They know the secrets to see their way past gatekeepers. Part of which is to be expert in overcoming cold calling anxiety.

Successful salespeople have the right instincts because they’ve mastered the three A’s in sales – awareness, acceptance and action.

ID-100115657 imagerymajesticStarting in the 1970s en route to selling millions of dollars in goods and services in multiple industries, I made all the conceivable and unimaginable mistakes.

So I learned how to “read the room” in cold calls by using the three A’s.

Awareness

Understand that gatekeepers are probably just as devoted to their jobs as you are to yours. They don’t want to risk criticism for admitting someone who doesn’t offer value to their organization. They see their job as to screening people out.

To counter-act their resistance, you must concentrate on creating the best-possible first impression by looking like a professional.

Did you ever notice that the most-professionally dressed people are accorded the greatest respect? Receptionists will size you up as someone who is or isn’t worthy of meeting the boss.

Many receptionists are hired to create a positive, first impression for visitors. It sounds trivial but many receptionists wear great shoes as part of their “uniform.”

They also appreciate salespeople who know what to wear and how to wear it. As a young salesperson, many receptionists commented to me: “Great shoes.”

Recognize, too, you have the power light up the room when you walk in the door – to create a favorable spotlight on yourself.

A positive, authentic smile turns on the light switch. You must decide how to follow the example of any great actor in an classic movie.

Along with effective visuals of their movements, great actors know the value of expressing the right tone of voice in their roles. You must have a positive appearance and a happy tone when you speak.

Be aware, too, of a technique used by popular radio personalities – they smile when they open their microphones. If you smile as you speak, you will project a friendly tone of voice.

Before a cold call, understand that you must already know about the company, and keep in mind the type of questions to ask the gatekeeper.

You must be aware of techniques in rapport-building and asking open-ended questions. Open-ended questions prompt gatekeepers to think about how to answer you and to provide you with information — instead a knee-jerk “no” reaction.

Hone your instincts in how to spot a need for what you have to offer. Have a great elevator pitch, use value propositions and know the seven steps to higher sales, the five value perceptions that motivate customers to buy, and the three-step process for overcoming sales objections.

Great salespeople turn gatekeepers into allies.

Good bosses rely on their gatekeepers’ opinions. Top bosses usually ask the gatekeepers what they think about salespeople. Once you persuade gatekeepers that you’re a professional with excellent communication skills and provide value, you’re halfway to landing a sale.

Acceptance

Acceptance merely means deciding on an objective. In my long career as a salesperson and later as a consultant in business-development calls, my objective was merely to take the first step in developing a relationship.

Gatekeepers might not know it, but they wield a great deal of power. You must accord them maximum respect.

“Most people think ‘selling’ is the same as ‘talking.’ But the most effective salespeople know that listening is the most important part of their job.”

-Roy Bartell

The first step: Decide how to introduce yourself to obtain an appointment. (But don’t be surprised if you get past the gatekeeper and make a sale on the spot. It can happen. Act as if you’re accustomed to it.)

Also, it’s time to decide for you to decide how you’ll go about turning on the switch to light up the room.

Action

Especially in cold calls, don’t walk in the door looking like an average salesperson. Don’t marginalize receptionists, and don’t take them for granted. Developing a relationship with the receptionist is very important to your success.

The sales profession is an honorable one. Be proud of what you’re doing, hold your head high. Nothing happens in commerce until something is sold.

Instead of a briefcase, carry a small portfolio big enough to hold a notepad and business cards. Or don’t carry anything at all – just your business cards and smartphone to make appointments on-the-spot if you get an audience. This shows you’re giving the company personalized attention.

Most salespeople mistakenly give up after three cold calls. However, it normally takes a minimum of five quality sales calls before you get an appointment.

Get the gatekeeper’s name. Make a note of whatever you discuss and any other salient information. Mention it on your return visit.

Instead of pulling out my cold-call list, I used to write gatekeepers’ names in quotes on the back of a business card. Those gatekeepers were impressed when I remembered their names in subsequent cold calls.

To overcome the difficulties you face in chatting with gatekeeper, approach the gatekeeper not as a salesperson but as a professional who visited the company to offer the value – with an attitude of gratitude and service.

With a warm smile and tone in your voice, approach the gatekeepers. For them, it’s often a busy, boring and mundane job screening out people. Consider that your job is to brighten their day for a moment or two.

If the person is sitting at a desk or behind a counter, stand back. Do not tower over the person. If the person is busy, be very detached. Don’t be too anxious to introduce yourself.

Be alert to opportunities to empathize with them and their work. Depending on the person and situation, I’ve landed countless sales by starting with a question something like this: “What a tough job. How do you do it?”

For them, it’s a low-risk open-ended question. Many gatekeepers appreciate the empathy. Show genuine interest.

Many gatekeepers aren’t treated with enough respect by employers and visitors. You’ll increase your prospects if you manage to get the gatekeepers to be talkative with you.

One goal should be to position yourself to listen 90 percent in all conversations. You’ll get a great friend by listening.

Gatekeepers are accustomed to adhering to a daily script of resisting cold-callers. Often, you’ll hear the question: “What, you don’t have an appointment?”

If asked such a question, smile warmly and say something like: “I stopped by just to make an appointment to come back.” Segue to a brief benefit statement and ask open-ended questions.

Important cautions

Again, it’s key to learn how to understand people and human nature, and build the right rapport. Know what you can do successfully and what you won’t.

Be careful with your comments and questions – don’t assume anything.

In one lesson – after getting past the gatekeeper, I tried to be empathetic with the boss – I assumed she was expecting a child. She sat, stood and walked like it.

But when I asked her when she was due, her response was “I’m not!” Fortunately, I made the sale but not without a lot of embarrassment and anxiety.

Know to whom you can give promotional items. If you’re treated formally by a gatekeeper, don’t.

On the other hand as a salesperson loaded with promotional items – such as scratch pads or pocket mirrors – I learned that many gatekeepers appreciated them, especially scratch pads because it made their jobs easier.

With a gatekeeper at a big utility company in southern California who was easy going and amiable in response to my approach, I told her: “I’ve got a present for you – a picture of a beautiful woman.” Then, I held up a pocket mirror in front of her.

She absolutely loved it, shrieked with joy and literally instructed the boss to see me. I won a contract worth more than $100,000. That was a lot of money in those days.

Ironically, when I mentioned the episode at a sales meeting, most of my female peers sitting around the room groaned. But I had the biggest sales month of anybody in that national company with offices coast-to-coast.

So anticipate what you can do and what you shouldn’t.

But for most sales, I found using a polished, formal approach worked in most situations.

Finally, it’s vital to learn from even your successes and to learn from each rejection. Keep persevering. At the end of each day, evaluate your efforts.

You’ll enjoy your journey to riches.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are editor’s picks for select articles from our dozens of sales coaching articles:

6 Tips to Create New Sales with Successful Cold Calling — Attending mere networking events or depending on a high marketing budget aren’t sufficient for strong sales. OK, cold calling isn’t always easy, but you must if you want to dramatically increase sales in double-digit percentages.

Sales Strategy When Tempted to Bad Mouth Competitors — Imagine you’re making a presentation and you feel pressure to make the sale. Suddenly you’re asked about your competition. Bad mouthing competition is not a viable option.

For Top Sales, 5 Rules for Targeting the Right Prospects — If you target the right prospects, you’ll save time and money and increase your revenue. There are five rules to follow. They’re developed for B2B but work for B2C, too.

8 Tips for Cold Calling By E-mail and Telephone — Since the advent of the digital age, cold calling went out of vogue. But in the lingering tepid economic recovery – whether you’re in advertising or staffing services – cold calling has become the logical tool to use to generate clients or business customers. For most businesspeople, cold calling isn’t the easiest route but it is a proven way of getting clients and customers.

6 Rules to Keep Your Pipeline Full for Continuous Sales — It doesn’t matter what type of business you have. Even if your sales are great today, there will come a time when sales will crawl to a halt unless you take precautionary measures to keep your sales pipeline full.

“Most people think ‘selling’ is the same as ‘talking.’ But the most effective salespeople know that listening is the most important part of their job.”

-Roy Bartell


 __________

Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.



Photo courtesy imagerymajestic at www.freedigitalphotos.net

6 Sales Tips for Successful Cold Calling



For most businesspeople in a lackluster economy, it’s important to create new opportunities with successful cold calling. Yes, it’s necessary to concentrate more efforts to create new sales.

Merely attending networking events or depending on a high marketing budget aren’t sufficient for strong sales.

OK, cold calling isn’t always easy, but you must if you want to dramatically increase sales in double-digit percentages. Develop and implement the right strategies. You’ll find yourself in the all-important groove for a happy buying environment.

ID-100223612 stockimagesA happy buying environment will create a sales utopia for you. Understand that all buying decisions are emotional decisions.

Once a prospect emotionally wants to buy, then she/he will start justifying the decision to buy with a list of reasons.

So use strategies to get enough face time with the right prospects.

To create new opportunities with successful cold calling, here are six tips:

1. Position you and your company as being the expert

Do whatever is necessary — well thought-out action steps — to become the knowledgeable expert in your field.

Otherwise, marketing is a waste of time and resources. When you’re ready, develop the right public relations, business card and other sales collateral. You want to be seen as the best. But be subtle — without bragging and using gauche statements.

2. Demonstrate enthusiasm and passion

Selling can be a roller-coaster ride, so stay positive. You’ll be more creative and resourceful, and your customers will like working with you.

There’s a carry0ver effect. Your products and services will be seen as the best.

“The difference between try and triumph is just a little umph!”

– Marvin Phillips

3. Develop a system for maintaining a good prospect list

Know who they are and what they do, so you’re ready for the next steps. Make it a comprehensive list. As you get to know the prospects, prioritize them A, B or C.

4. Create a great elevator pitch, and develop benefit statements

That’s for each aspect of your services and products. You will ease the challenging aspects of selling, if you know you your products and services and how to align them with the needs of your prospects.

Further, if you use good benefit statements or value propositions, you’ll lessen the likelihood for objections about price.

5. Before you approach prospects, do your research

Understand their business and sector. Know whom to approach. My preference is to start at the top. Know what questions to ask.

6. Ask questions and listen

Be an active listener. Prospects don’t care what you have to say until they’ve had their say.

The best salespeople listen 80 to 90 percent in discussions with prospects and customers. In this way, you’ll know which benefit statements are applicable for your prospects.

From the Coach’s Corner, more best practices in selling:

The Lost Art – How and Why to Use Cold-Calling for Higher Sales — Are you lacking in sales? Do you get enough face time with the right prospects? Here’s how and why in-person cold calls will help you make sales.

8 Tips for Cold Calling By E-mail and Telephone — Since the advent of the digital age, cold calling went out of vogue. But in the lingering downturn – whether you’re in advertising or staffing services – cold calling has become the logical tool to use to generate clients or business customers.

Want More Revenue? Avoid the 7 Deadly Sins of Selling — Whether you are an established company or a startup, what you probably need most in this economic climate is a positive revenue stream. It’s possible with a higher-performing sales staff.

7 Tips for Strong Results in Setting B2B Appointments with CEOs — As every salesperson knows, face time with B2B prospects gives you a foundation for sales success.  Execution in the appointment-setting process is, of course, is key to being successful.

You Can Get Bigger Corporate Accounts in 5 Steps — So your company needs to grow and you’ve decided to go after bigger fish. Getting bigger corporate accounts is easier, if you develop the right system. But not only must you have reason to be confident, you must position yourself and your company to instill confidence in your prospects.

“The difference between try and triumph is just a little umph!”

– Marvin Phillips


  __________

Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Photo courtesy of stockimages at www.freedigitalphotos.net

How to Set Appointments with CEOs for Long Term Relationships



As every salesperson knows, face time with B2B prospects gives you a foundation for sales success.  Execution in the appointment-setting process is, of course, is key to being successful.  

The ideal situation is to get sales leads via networking and referrals. But in the new economy – sooner or later – every successful salesperson needs to resort to sales calling.

To lay the groundwork for success in appointment-setting requires several attributes: Research, precise record-keeping, assertiveness and energy, patience, and skill.

ID-10046954In my B2B sales experience of big-ticket products and services – as a sales employee, manager and later as a business-performance consultant – I’ve learned that in-person cold calls work best in order to reach a CEO. Why?

In-person cold-calling the CEO enhances your efforts to lay the groundwork for a long-term business relationship by creating a favorable first impression.

True, executives are busy but they appreciate assertive professionalism.

It’s always best to start at the top because it’s much easier to work your way down than to work your way up.

Your time is valuable. So save time in reaching the decision-maker.

Plus, you get to familiarize yourself with the prospect’s office environment, and it’s an opportunity to make a favorable impression with the people who count — the gatekeeper, an executive secretary and the top boss. If you’re really good and lucky, you might be allowed in to see the CEO to make an appointment.

Yes, I know, conventional wisdom dictates that you sit in the office to make phone calls. Bear in mind that gatekeepers are good at screening out telephone solicitations, but today’s generation of receptionists has less experience in turning back a savvy salesperson.

To lay the groundwork for success in appointment-setting requires several attributes: Research, precise record-keeping, assertiveness and energy, patience, and skill.

Here are the seven tips:

1. Train for a marathon. Anticipate that sales prospects will inevitably check you out, so make sure that you reinforce your brand and manage your Web reputation. If you’re really good, your prospects will already be familiar with you and your company.

Most people don’t like cold-calling, so make sure you’re prepared mentally to act with confidence. Research and know your elevator pitch to get your foot in the door, and when you meet with the CEO to set an appointment. Also know and prepare to use the seven steps to higher sales. (The seven steps include how to overcome sales objections.)

Research your desired targets. Know who the chief decision-maker is at each company. First impressions are crucial. To get past the gatekeepers, make sure you have professional demeanor – you have to look like you’re on the same level as CEOs – with a well-tailored suit and shined shoes. 

Be ready to engage the gatekeepers with empathy.  It’s not easy protecting the boss while dealing with dozens of phone calls and visitors.

2. Resolve to be resilient. If you can’t get in the door, remember it’s not a rejection. If a CEO does say no, it’s OK. That means you’re closer to selling to someone else.

As a young salesperson in economic downturns, I learned to treat the cold-calling process as a marathon. There were times that I made more than 100 calls in a row without success – then suddenly the dam burst and I enjoyed a flood of sales orders.

As manager and later as a business-performance consultant, I noticed there was one common trait why many salespeople were unsuccessful in selling to me. After a few sales calls, they gave up – just before I made up mind to buy. Normally, it takes five successful contacts before CEOs will buy from you. So keep at it until they say no, but expect their acceptance of you.

3. Celebrate any and all accomplishments. To help you stay resilient and mentally sharp after even small victories like getting an appointment, take time to relish your success. Give yourself a stroke for being tenacious,  and knowing what to say and when to say it.

4. It’s vital to be yourself. True, you’ll want to impress the CEOs, but don’t worry about being a chameleon. Simply listen intently and take notes in sales calls. Answer questions honestly with value propositions. Avoid using the latest buzz words.

5. Be detail-minded. Ask open-ended questions. Pay attention the person’s opinions. Remember CEOs have a unique job with few sounding boards – people with whom they can confide. Become that person. If you’ve taken good notes, you’ll be in better position to present your ideas so that they can be easily understood and appreciated on an emotional level.

6. Stay focused in your presentation. Don’t ramble. Use an economy of words in providing your introductory benefit statement and your value propositions in your pitch. Encourage questions.

7. Make selling fun and be consistent and tenacious. Enjoy the ride. Keep smiling even when you don’t feel like it.

Don’t give up. Once you’re successful, continue to make cold calls. Make it an important part of every day. Always have an attitude of hunger. Business is full surprises, so alleviate the uncertainty. In this way, you’ll be prepared in the inevitable revenue roller-coaster ride.

And, of course, don’t forget the power of a handwritten thank-you note on your monarch or A-2 stationery. That also means telling the CEO what you appreciate about the chat, your benefit statement, and a point to prevent buyer’s remorse.

P.S. Bosses often complain about lack of great sales talent. If you’re looking for a sales job, these techniques work when you execute them well with panache, assertiveness and value.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related articles:

6 Sales Tips for Successful Cold Calling — For most businesspeople in a lackluster economy, it’s important to create new opportunities with successful cold calling. Yes, it’s necessary to concentrate more efforts to create new sales. Attending mere networking events or depending on a high marketing budget aren’t sufficient for strong sales. OK, cold calling isn’t always easy, but you must if you want to dramatically increase sales in double-digit percentages. Develop and implement the right strategies. You’ll be in the all-important groove for a happy buying environment.

11 Sales Strategies to Outsell Your Big Competitors — Big companies have obvious advantages over small businesses. Their brands are well-known. They can afford sales training, sales-support staff and customer-relationship management software. On the other hand, there are good reasons why Cyber Monday has become big.

You Can Get Bigger Corporate Accounts in 5 Steps — So your company needs to grow and you’ve decided to go after bigger fish. Getting bigger corporate accounts is easier, if you develop the right system. But not only must you have reason to be confident, you must position yourself and your company to instill confidence in your prospects.

A smart salesperson listens to emotions not facts. 


__________

Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Photo courtesy of Ambro at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.