Sales tips for the aspiring rock star!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fire The Gatekeepers!

Just the mere fact that we refer to an assistant as a "gatekeeper" pre supposes a negative dynamic. One where we need to go around, go over and in some cases; plow through! Not sure if that lends itself to a collaborative relationship! Here's something else to think about: Our first, continuing and lasting impression on an assistant is critical considering that we will have to live with them should their company choose to partner with us!

Perhaps its time for every damn gatekeeper to get fired! Sounds nasty, but I mean it. Actually I said it to dramatize my idea. What I actually mean is Perhaps It's Time To Fire The Gatekeeper And Take Them On As a Partner!

First and foremost understand that lots of things and lots of people with things are trying for an audience with the big cheese. Is your message compelling enough to be memorable? Have you engaged in meticulous pre call planning? Have you found a triggering event in their organization you can leverage such as expansion, a new contract they won, a promotion, relocation, a press release? How about something from their industry, a competitor? Oh and before I forget does your message address any of the areas all businesses are interested in:

More sales, more customers, more market share
Happy customers, happy shareholders, happy employees
Better image, quicker to market turn times, greater efficiencies
More profit, reduced turnover, lower cost of sales

Just to name a few!

And while we're at it, aren't there things that just piss buyers off to no end?

Missed deadlines
Poor quality
Internal customers
Surprise costs
Poor communication
Stupid buying experiences and dare I say . . .
Dealing with less than professional sales reps

Next: Dale Carnegie once said that the sweetest sound, in any language is the sound of our own name. By all means call the assistant by name and then . . .

Lose the monkey style kung fu evasion tactics and simply level with them. Tell them why you're calling. One of my favorite things to do (especially if I get one of those snotty "Can I help you?" greetings, is to say something like "Actually (insert name) you might be the ONLY person who can help me" and then I have a conversation with them detailing what I'm trying to do and more importantly why this is important to them. I end by asking for their advice on how I can get an audience with the grand pooba. Just out of curiosity, do you think it feeds one ego to be asked for advice or help? Damn right it does! Why not leverage that?

No matter where that conversation goes, that assistant is getting a handwritten thank you card. Why? Aside from just plain old fashioned good manners I would venture to say that I might be the only one who sent a thank you. This helps me build my brand and might even get my name brought up to the decision maker.

Something else to think about. Every human being needs to be acknowledged and appreciated. In doing that you begin to wear away barriers and create relationships!

My philosophy with an assistant is the same as I have for a prospect "I don't care if its today, tomorrow or on my retirement dinner, we will be partners"

I believe Wayne from Wayne's World summarized it best when he looked at that stratocaster guitar and said "You will be mine. Oh yes, you will be mine!"

It's to that end that the last step kicks in. Creating relationships needs to be embraced as a long term strategy. It certainly doesn't happen on the first phone call. This is a game of patience. And although its wonderful and probable that we could simply call and get the appointment, we need to have a well thought out, multiple hit strategy that includes collaborating with the partner formerly known as "The Gatekeeper"

Have an awesome day and I almost forgot . . . T.G.I.F.!
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  1. Sending a hand written note to your new "partner" is Appreciation Marketing at it's best. Good stuff Paul!

    Craig W.

  2. I like a little guerilla marketing trick... I make up a little chocolate goody bag just for the assistant. I always get a smile and a few oohs and ahhs. When I was a kid, the best way to make a friend was to share candy or a toy. It works for adults too. Later I send a hand-written note thanking them for their time and if they enjoyed the chocolate. It's not magic, but being memorable certainly helps the odds.

  3. I like your thinking - we (and I include myself) do tend to think negative, I guess we should remember that the gatekeeper also lets people in, they don't just shut them out!

  4. @Craig W Very true!

    @ John: I'm getting hungry just reading about how you do that. Bastard! Great thinking! Love it.

    @ Ian: I still think them that way at times so I guess we are all works in progress.

    Thank you Craig, John and Ian for contributing!

  5. As a former gatekeeper myself, I can tell you if you are not pleasant to deal with (or dare I say a sneaky snake-oil type salesman) you would not ever get through me. Keep in mind, whatever you do, make it real and genuine, not phony. Thanks Paul for reminding everyone that there is more than just the sale, there's the human side!

  6. Judy Freidhof:

    I find most gatekeepers are very helpful in getting me to the right person or getting me on their boss's meeting schedule. The few that are rude, or are just collecting a paycheck are not worth my time. So, yes I do roll over them.


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Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics (CGX) one of North America’s leading general commercial printing companies. Paul has over 25 years of sales and sales leadership experience. He has trained, mentored and coached over 3,000 sales and sales leadership professionals. An accomplished public speaker, Paul has delivered numerous key note addresses. He has authored numerous training manuals, articles, blog posts and is currently working on his first book for release in 2011. Feel free to email Paul This has been a paid announcement by the friends of Paul Castain!

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