Posted: April 9, 2010
When making sales calls, it is important for me to speak with the person who makes the buying decisions. Most of the time, this is the business owner. However, there are times that I am directed to discuss an advertising opportunity with a marketing director. Either way, to reach the decision maker, I have to first speak with the "boss of the office". The "boss" I am referring to is the office receptionist, who has the power to connect a salesperson with the decision-maker and usually knows everything that goes on in the workplace.
As I do with every phone call I make, I always announce who I am and what I do. When I ask to speak to the person who makes most of the decisions, I am often asked by the receptionist, "Can I tell him/her what this is regarding?" This is where it helps to be creative. If I tell the person who answers the phone that I need to speak with the employer because I want to sell he/she advertising, I know, more often than not, the person I need to speak with will suddenly be on the phone, out of the office or with another customer.
So I have devised a list of three key things to remember when trying to set a sales appointment with a decision-maker who has an administrative professional who is very good at what he/she does.
First, always explain to the receptionist or office manager how much time I will need with his/her superior. Secondly, I outline the goal(s) to be accomplished once I have an opportunity to speak with the decision-maker. Lastly, I offer three different times of the week that I could possibly meet in person with the individual who determines how money is spent on advertising.
In sales, I am of the belief that it is not who you know, but rather who knows you. In other words, it is best to gain credibility and be sure that the company receptionist knows who I am so that he/she feels comfortable when connecting me to the decision-maker.
The week of April 19-23 is Administrative Professional's Week. Be sure to thank the "boss of the office". In addition, it may be wise to give a small gift to a receptionist at a company who you do business with and whom you speak with often. That way you will likely have a better chance to talk directly with the decision-maker for years to come.