Unbelievable! Turns out the very person sales professionals dread talking to on the phone is not to be dreaded at all.
That’s right, the affectionately referred to gatekeeper, bull dog, mean-spirited witch on the other end of the phone… in polite terms referred to as The Executive Assistant… is without question your most powerful ally who wants to help you get face time with the executive.
Yep. She is the keeper of the keys to the executive suites. Treat her wrong and she’ll keep the door securely closed. Treat her right and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll get the coveted sales meeting with THE decision maker.
As a whole, sales professionals mistreat executive assistants.
How do I know that? Executive assistants told me so! I asked them pointed questions, and they answered.
I went on the road, visited four cities and interviewed executive assistants. During the interviews, these women candidly revealed the many things sales professionals do wrong during cold calls to executives. Additionally, these powerful women generously gave several important tips as to how to win them over during a cold call.
Warning: The truth hurts, but it will also set you free. You’ll want to take a deep breath as you read and process what Assistants say:
“Sales professionals call and are rude, pushy, and treat me as though I don’t matter. It’s clear that the only person they believe has value is the executive. Fact is, the executive thinks I’m important enough to trust me with his calendar and to run the business in his absence. Do they think I deserve disrespect?”
“I’d never let sales persons know I was laughing, that would be rude. I represent the office of the executive and do my levelheaded best to be respectful at all times. But seriously, you have to laugh. These people call, ask for an appointment, I say ‘no’ and they call again… with a disguised voice. Do they think I don’t recognize that fact? Please!”
“My first day on the job I told my executive how I handle the daily onslaught of inbound telephone calls from people asking for him. With his approval of my methods I went to the receptionist and told her specifically, how to determine which calls should be sent through, and which calls should be screened out.”
These phone behaviors tell executive assistants a caller does not belong:
1. “A caller who talks too fast, making me feel pushed against the wall rather than conversed with.”
2. “A sales person who does not announce the bottom line reason for the call and goes to rambling, asking lots of questions to which they should already have answers.”
3. “A man or woman who talks as though he or she is a friend of the executive, but I have never heard mention of them.”
4. “A pleasant enough person who asks totally, inappropriate questions, such as, ‘what’s your president’s name?’ ‘which of our competitors do you use now?’ ‘are you satisfied with their service?’. I feel embarrassed for a lot of these callers. They don’t seem to know how inappropriate they are.”
Sure, there are lots more mistakes sales professionals make when they cold call executives, but these are a few to which most can relate!
Tips for Building an Alliance
Executive assistants want to know how to best serve the executive. One way they do this is by identifying callers who potentially have effective solutions for the executive’s most pressing business issues.
Although these executive assistants do screen out people who don’t belong, the shocking truth is that they are actively searching for people who do belong.
When you call the executive office, be sure to:
1. Converse with the executive assistant rather than talk at her.
2. Speak at a pace that can be easily understood. Avoid the temptation to spew out words at a rapid fire pace, in favor of engaging in conversation with the assistant.
3. Develop a statement that in ten bottom line words or less, conveys the business solution your products/services have to offer the executive.
4. For goodness sake, don’t ask lots of questions to which you should already have answers.
Then, before your very eyes, watch as the person heretofore thought of as “public enemy number one” makes a magnificent transformation from “obstinate gatekeeper” and turns into your strong ally!
Forward this article to friends–they’ll thank you for it!