Get the meeting at the level that counts: Four key sales strategies to get you in and out with sales in hand.

 I’m tired of reading and hearing about how to get past the gatekeeper. Emails, articles, news flashes, blasts, webinars, podcasts… they make my blood boil. These “gatekeeper” tactics are insincere, duplicitous, unprofessional, offensive, and a waste of sales time. A waste of your time. And, really, who has time to waste?

The gatekeepers–receptionists, administrative assistants, and executive admins–field calls for the decision-maker. They’re valuable to the executive, but not to you–not until you’ve developed your relationship. And certainly not when you cold call.

My goal is to change your business-development, prospecting, and lead-generation strategies to referral selling, to change the way you sell and succeed. Get past the gatekeeper. And close more business in less time.

Dump the Script

We’ve been trained to make sales phone calls: Say your name (never your company name), why you’re calling, and then relay some brilliantly simple benefit statements about why the person on the other end of the line would want to schedule a meeting with you as soon as possible. Make sure your voice is friendly and upbeat, and don’t wait for the person to respond until you get through your script. And, thank the receptionist or assistant for their help to get them on your side.

In my world, the world of referral selling, cold calling from a script doesn’t cut it. Ever. Think of the opposite sales approach. When you receive a referral, you don’t need a script. Your referral source has pre-sold you and your capabilities. All you need to say is who you are, who referred you, and schedule a time to talk. You’re “proud” to mention your company name. Because you are introduced by a terrific, trusted resource, your prospect wants to know who’s calling–they want to know it’s YOU calling! Done.

Get the List That Counts

The Web 2.0 world promises to increase your prospecting productivity by delivering qualified leads to your inbox at the prospect’s time of need. We’re all familiar with availability of “bought” lists. But take a closer look: Are these leads really qualified, or are they just names?

You might get so-called leads from your website, special offers, email campaigns, direct mail, trade shows, advertising, cold calling, and conferences. These are not sales leads; they are lists. A list will get you to the gatekeeper and no further. Until you qualify them, lists are not sales leads.

The fastest and least expensive way to meet the people you want to meet and who want to meet you is to get a referral and a personal introduction. There is no gatekeeper.

Stop Cold Calling

A sales call is either cold or hot. Here’s my definition (make it yours): A cold call is one that’s made to someone who doesn’t know you and is not expecting your call. Make a cold call, and you’ll get the gatekeeper. Get the gatekeeper, and go nowhere. Salespeople delude themselves into thinking they are making “warm calls” when in fact they’re actually making cold calls.

Consider the following situations. Cold or hot?

  • You call someone because you got the name came from a colleague or friend. Cold!
  • You call someone and then follow up with a letter. Cold!
  • The person’s name came from a specific list. Still cold!

These are all cold calls–the person doesn’t know you and is not expecting your call. Even though you think you’ve been able to avoid sounding like a telemarketer, this type of call is still cold.

Referrals: They’re Hot, Hot, Hot!

Recent research by a global sales organization asked executives why they would take a meeting with a salesperson. The top two reasons:

1.      A referral from someone within their company

2.      A referral from a trusted source outside the executive’s company

Clearly, referrals matter and make an impact. Make every sales call a HOT call by getting an introduction from your referral source.

Adopt a referral-marketing system and shorten your sales process by at least 30 percent, be pre-sold, gain the trust of the prospect, eliminate the competition, and attract new clients more 50 percent of the time. There is no other sales prospecting or sales strategy that can claim these results.

Get the referral, and get the introduction. The Gatekeeper has left the building. So walk right in and close business!