It is typically in the salespersons best interest to befriend the gatekeeper and other staff in order to get to the decision maker. But what if, as a salesperson, you need to get to the decision maker and their staff cannot know any details about your business venture? How do you access the decision maker without getting you butt kicked out the door by trying to go over the gatekeeper’s head?
The majority of sales gurus these days will tell you that cold calling is dead, especially face-to-face cold calling. If that describes your situation, be sure to read my previous article on The Do’s and Don’ts of Cold Calling. So, although this may be the case for a variety of industries, there are some that do in fact require employing this brut methodology in order to access the decision maker.
In my current role, I have been faced with this dilemma. I have always been accustomed to being friendly and open with all staff and best utilize those relationships in order to ultimately reach the decision maker however, now my business is of an utmost confidential matter and it is crucial that I do not share the nature of my business with anyone but the decision maker.
After getting the door slammed on my ass on the way out of a business a handful of times, I decided that I needed to revamp my approach.
One prime example that stood out in my mind was when I went into a clinic that was clearly empty. There were no cars out front, no patients in the waiting room and clearly no patients in the treatment area. When I asked the receptionist if I could speak with the doctor for a minute, she hemmed and hawed and asked me if I had an appointment. When I told her no, she told me that he was VERY busy but she will check. She went out back and returned to inform me that he was so busy and doesn’t have any time this week.
This experience was akin to walking to an empty restaurant and the hostess asks you if you have a reservation. In sales, having thick skin is a MUST!
So what did I decide to do?
1. Write a handwritten note card in a sealed envelope addressed to the DM
Before my next round of cold calls, I picked up some blank note-cards and envelopes. In each card I wrote a personal note:
Sorry to have missed you today. I was hoping to catch you to talk to you about a business opportunity. I will be in town (UNTIL DATE OR WILL BE BACK AT DATE) so you can call or email me anytime. Talk soon. Sincerely,
On the top flap of the card, I attached my business card with an adhesive (double-sided sticky) so that the card can be easily removed.
The card is inserted into an envelope and the DM’s name is written on the front of the envelope.
2. Conduct cold call with envelope in hand and business card in back pocket
I show up at the clinic and approach the receptionist in a friendly manner and say “Hey I’m (NAME HERE). I have something for (DM NAME HERE). Is he/she available for a quick minute? I have something for them”
If they check and the answer is YES (wohoo!):
I put the envelope away and ask to speak to the DM privately for a minute and then give them my business card that’s in my back pocket and try to arrange a private meeting.
If they check (or don’t ) and say NO:
Give them the sealed envelope and ask that they kindly pass it on to the DM addressed on your card and mention that you will be calling the DM soon to follow-up.
Since it is addressed to the DM personally and hand written, even if the receptionist does not know you. the way you presented yourself is as though the DM does. For this reason, the receptionist or gatekeeper is highly unlikely to open the envelope or toss it out. Furthermore, mentioning that you will be touching base with the DM regarding what you have enclosed in this envelope will make it even more unlikely that it will be tampered with.
So far this approach has gotten me call-backs and appointments 75% of the time.
Surely much more effective than a phone call or random email!
If you are in this type of sales, I would love for you to try this and let me know how it works out.
Also if you have any other tips, please share!
Happy sales my friends.