Receptionists, secretaries and assistants are trained to be guard dogs. Their job is to protect their boss from interruptions. Your job is to make sure the boss has a clear vision of how your product or service can make the boss a hero and make the company prosper. You can accomplish your mission if you work skillfully and tactfully with the guard dogs.
Think of a puppy you have trained. You made that little dog lovable and cooperative. Now think of "Stella Rasmussen," the guard dog, with her arms crossed, her forehead wrinkled and her eyes glowering. Your job is to make Stella lovable and cooperative just like you did your little puppy.
Stella has learned all the tricks to get rid of you. You will be successful if you have fun and view this as a merry game. You are going to make Stella your friend and you are going to talk with the decision maker in this company. Your attitude needs to positive, calm and relaxed.
Here are a few techniques you can use to turn that vicious guard dog into a sweet little puppy.
"Sorry, he's out of the office."
"OK. No problem. Could we page him?" (Speak slowly and softly.)
Often this works. Stella the guard dog is not used to this, so you caught her off guard. You didn't argue. You agreed with her. Then you just asked a simple question.
Let's suppose that does not work. That's OK. Go on to step two.
"OK. That's fine. Does he have a business cell? Great. Let's do this. How about if you call him on his cell phone and as soon as you reach him you can connect us."
Notice the magic phrase "let's do this." Stella and you are doing this together. You aren't ordering her around. You aren't arguing. You are working with her, politely and smoothly, to solve a problem. You are converting her from a snarling guard dog to a lovable puppy.
Let's suppose you are trying to reach a manager who does not have his or her own office, but works in an area with several other people. Stella tells you that the manager is on the phone.
You say, "OK. No problem. Can you transfer me to someone who sits next to her?"
Again, you have given Stella a solution she never thought of before. The surly guard dog becomes a tender puppy.
If you are not sure if you have the right person, here is a great question to ask, "OK. That's fine. Is there someone of equal business rank that I should talk to?" Remember, you want to get through to the decision-maker in the company, so this question might flush out exactly the right person for you.
Remember to keep great notes. Always write down the names of everybody with whom you speak, whether it is on the phone or in person. If you have spoken with several people on the phone, it is wonderful to have their names in your head when you go to the business for a visit. They immediately like you and the word spreads around that you are a person with whom they would like to do business.
If you write these notes on a piece of paper, make sure you transfer them to your computer the same day. Get them into whatever contact management program you are using, whether it is Outlook, ACT, Gold Mine or any other program. Get everyone's name and write down any comments that will help you when you call them back or visit them.
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