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The Art Of How Not To Get To Any Decision Maker By Dan Adams


If you consider yourself a professional sales representative or executive you have undoubtedly worked very hard to overcome the stigma sales professionals have faced over the years.

For this reason I was very disappointed to read a newsletter written by a major international sales training firm entitled: “The Art Of How To Get To Any Decision Maker”.

I thought I would write about it this month in a newsletter that I will call: “The Art Of How Not To Get To Any Decision Maker”.

The author, president of a major international sales training company, offered claims and advice to get past any gatekeeper/assistant. He asserted: “I’ve been able to get in front of the CEO and CFO of “so and so” (name dropping a Fortune 500 company). Seeking to share his pearls of wisdom, the author offered suggestions as to how you too, can do it. He advised:

* “Don’t be charming to the assistant because it’s a dead giveaway you are selling something.”

* “Tell the assistant what to do – don’t ask them.”

* “The other secret to getting that top executive on the telephone is to send the gatekeeper back as many times as you can, each time giving very little information.”

* “You must lead the conversation at all times.”

* “The biggest tip is that your voice has to sound like you’re important.” To the author’s credit he states: “Never give false information.” He then, however, follows up with,”That doesn’t mean you tell the whole truth.”

The author also advises to keep assistants “off-guard and off balance” by not telling them what your reason is for the call. He advocates sending the gatekeeper back so many times that the CEO finally gets fed up and tells her to put the call through. This sales trainer suggests making a contest out of your efforts: “Let’s see how many times you can send the gatekeeper back to that CEO.” This role play was suggested in the article:

You: Hi.This is Bill Johnston. I’m calling for Carl. Is he in?
Assistant: Can I ask what this call is in reference to?
You: Just tell him it’s Bill Johnston.
Assistant: Carl did not recognize your name, what is this in reference to?
You: Did you tell him it’s Bill Johnston?
Assistant: Yes. He didn’t seem to know you.
You: Hmm. Just tell him I’m from XYZ Company. That might jog his memory.
Assistant: I’m sorry. Mr. Johnston, but the company name didn’t ring any bells. Can you please tell me what this is in reference to?
You: Who am I speaking to?
Assistant: This is his assistant.
You: Are you his regular assistant?
Assistant: Yes.
You: What’s your name?
Assistant: Shirley.
You [tone of authority]: Shirley, if you tell Carl that I’m following up on some correspondence sent to him that should be enough.

I imagine you feel as shocked at this manipulative and deceitful behavior as I do. The next logical question is, if you are a TRUE SALES PROFESSIONAL how DO you get access to key decision makers? The simple answer to this complex question is that you earn it through trust.

How do you do that? Don’t cold call! Work to get a referral from an existing satisfied client or someone else in their organization. Either way you must do your homework! Research the target company and your senior executive contact. Your goal is to know more about your clients than they know about themselves. Online tools now make this possible. You must be able to tie your solution to one of the top three key pain, challenges, issues or opportunities that they are facing.

When you do reach out to the administrator, follow these four steps as you introduce yourself:

1. “I have done an extensive amount of research analyzing your company.” (I am not cold calling);
2. “As a result of my research I know your: pain, challenges, issues or opportunities. I think your major areas of concern are…”;
3. “We have helped other companies in your industry solve the exact same issue with excellent results. Here is how we helped them…”;
4. “What is the best way for me to share this information with Sharon (the administrator’s boss)?”.

Here is an example of how it would sound:

“Hi Margaret,This is Dan with A&A. Over the past two months I have been researching your firm and have uncovered a strong focus on cost reduction through supply chain integration. We are working with X and Y in your industry to solve this very same challenge. I believe that Sharon would be very interested in hearing what we have be able to accomplish for that client. What is the best way for me to share this information with her?”

Instead of viewing your “gate-keeper” as an obstacle, you have professionally justified your reason for seeking access to her company’s executive. It is not advisable to keep anyone “off-guard and off balance”. After all, it is your objective to provide professional and consultative service to your clients, and this introductory call will start you off on the right foot.

Good Luck, and Close ‘Em,
Dan Adams
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Dan Adams is a popular professional speaker, author, and consultant who draws upon more than 25 years of experience in the field of sales and marketing. Having honed his sales skills selling multimillion dollar solutions for Fortune 500 and high technology companies over the past 25 years, he founded a sales consulting company called Adams & Associates. Visit him at TrustTriangleSelling.com. Dan is the author of: Building Trust, Growing Sales: How to Master Complex, High-End Sales Using the Principles of Trust Triangle Selling.

-what are some effective ways you’ve found to reach the key decision maker? Share your thoughts and ideas with your fellow sales professionals in the comments below.

*brought to you by SalesTrainingAdvice.com

  • Scott Sheaffer

    I agree with you that "strong arming" an assistant to get to a CXO is an ill-advised strategy. Once you finally get through you have already created an advesarial relationship because the CXO will quickly realize you got through because of a false pretense. http://salestipsbyscott.com

  • Josh Hinds

    Scott, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I hope you'll drop by often.

    -Josh

  • Dave Barnhart

    Dan you have hit the nail on the proverbial head. This is so close to what we teach that it's scary 😉

  • Alice

    Dan, excellent article. I couldn't agree with you more. I am amazed at what bad sales advice is out there. Kudos to you for posting this correction. I hope you also went to the blog with the bad advice and left some good advice along with the link to your blog.

    Alice
    http://www.aliceheiman.com

  • Brett Hart

    You would have a much better chance getting through using the method you bashed.

    In your approach, you 1.) Talk too damn much 2.) Are all “me, me, me, me, me” 2.) Reek of sales so bad that it leaves the gatekeeper feeling like they need to take a shower.

    I think you should give that method you bashed a shot. I guarantee you’ll do a lot better.