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Good Prospecting Means Getting Past the Gatekeeper- Here’s How!

By: David Quinn

Making Telephone Appointments

It is always advisable to have a contact’s name in advance of making a telephone appointment otherwise you might be penalised for heralding your intentions by signalling your lack of preparation. If you act like an amateur you will be treated like one and dismissed in the same manner as the others. If you are unaware of who makes the decisions in relation to your proposition, it is easily obtained. For example by making a quick call of an investigatory nature and saying something like;

 “Good morning I have some information here to send the person with overall responsibility for (Whatever it is), who do I address it to”?

 In most cases receptionists and secretaries will want to ensure that your information goes to the correct person and are always willing to give a name under these circumstances. They seldom erect barriers because for the moment you are not asking to be put through. However having obtained the name you are at liberty to continue;

 “Can I ask as a matter of interest is Mr Bloggs available at the moment….”?

 Alternatively if you feel uncomfortable with this approach you can thank the receptionist/sec and end the call. You are now equipped with very valuable information so please keep the following in mind when you telephone subsequently which can be as little as five minutes after receiving this information.

 1 Speak with authority as if the customer/ prospect is expecting your call and have the correct pronunciation of their name.

 2 If your contact is unavailable find out;

-What is the best time to phone back?

-If you leave a message make sure it is a clear one

-Decide beforehand if you want to talk with somebody else (Understand the consequences of getting to speak to somebody with no decision making authority)

 3 If pressed for further information by the receptionist/secretary avoid elaborating be courteous and brief e.g.

“yes my name is David Quinn from Quinn Training and I wanted to make Mr Bloggs aware of a forthcoming event that he previously expressed some interest in.. eh.. .. look if it’s a bad time I understand and I can phone later or perhaps have a quick word now if he’s available”?

 4 Remember receptionists and secretaries are valuable sources of information.  Enlist their assistance rather than dismiss them, they like, as we all do, to be made feel important and as far as you are concerned they are. If they offer you advice, make sure you follow it.

5 Get to know the receptionist/secretary’s name; it will help when in contact again.

 6 Make sure you know the level of authority of your contact.

 7 Know as much as you can about your customer’s organisation e.g. size, their products/services, other personalities.

 8 Have an opening statement prepared in advance, be enthusiastic and try and inspire the customer.

 9 Do not become too familiar with your customer/prospect by referring to him/her by first name, unless you are sure your relationship permits it.

10 when you do get to speak to your contact do not fall into the trap of making a presentation over the phone. Some people are very good at extracting information sufficient enough for them to justify rejecting you.

 11 Always keep the objective of the call in mind i.e. to obtain an appointment and don’t be put off by your contact’s reluctance. If he/she is currently too busy and requests you to make contact again next week to arrange an appointment be courteous and respond for example:

 “Yes I understand Mr Bloggs and I’m sure you don’t want me chasing you around, adding to your work-load perhaps you could pen me in your diary for an appointment two weeks from now, say Tuesday 25th November how does that sound”?

 12 Remember If you have something interesting to and/ or a proposition of value don’t let anything deter you or stand in your way, as far as you are concerned you have a right to be heard and your determination maybe a factor in encouraging others to listen.


David Quinn is head of training in Quinn Training and can be contacted on (01) 4978353 or by email at mail@quinntraining.ie. Comments on any of his blog posts are very welcome.