When you need to speak to the decision maker you need to navigate the gatekeeper. Here’s a few tips to help you get it done. (Guest post by Kim Ann Curtin).
- Call early or call late
- Have your pitch ready
- Be “over there” with the gatekeeper
- Make he/she care about you
- Mine them for information
Call early or call late
Anywhere from 7am-8:30am or 5pm-8pm. This will give you a good shot at getting the Top Dog and this is when their day is calm, things haven’t really ramped up yet or they are winding down.
Have your pitch ready
What if the decision maker you need does answer the phone? Are you ready? You want a few versions of your pitch. You are going to have a brief indicator, if he/she is in the mood, so pay attention if they are open and curious. Then give them your 1minute pitch. If they seem busy, give them a 30sec pitch and offer to send it in an email for him to review. Now have that email rock and roll ready to go! Have it all prepped before you initially call so you can literally hit send as soon as you hang up. Don’t multitask while talking to your guy/gal.
Step away from your computer and look out into nature if you can. Put all your focus on the conversation. You need to have no distractions to hear the subtleties. Be over there
My personal experience: When I was a TV producer, I was trying to get the Editor of the Daily News to do an interview. He had just written a new book and he was already a best selling author so he was in great demand! His gatekeeper (assistant) put me on hold about 7 times and by “ being over there”, I picked up on how crazy busy she was. I put myself in her shoes and when she finally came back I said, “Wow you are having a tough day aren’t you?” Her response was, “you don’t know the half of it” and she proceeded to rant for about 10 minutes and I listened and empathized with her. When she finally came back in to the conversation with me, we had a bond in place and she thanked me for listening. By being “over there” with her, we connected and she put our request at the top of all her media requests. We taped the interview the next week.
Make them care about you
Be considerate and human, non-transactional, of their time and day. Include some levity; the weather or a neutral news event, you can even make fun of yourself! Promise you won’t bore them. Wink wink ;-) Let them know you are in on the fact that you are asking for something out of the norm. Be playful, not so serious!
Mine them for info
Open the conversation with, “I’m not sure if indeed your boss is the best contact for my matter (unless you are absolutely sure), but I thought you (the gatekeeper) would indeed be the best to assess. I realize you might be busy so if you’d prefer I call back at a better time I can.” Try to keep it over the phone if you can unless they insist on an email. They will usually hook you up with someone who can move you through the red tape.
My personal experience: I called the CEO of Chase to negotiate a lower interest rate. I knew I wouldn’t literally speak to him but I told the gatekeeper, I thought his office would direct me to the appropriate person. And it did! They knew the ‘right’ people for every request. Mine them carefully but mine them!
About the Author: Kim Ann Curtin is a professional life coach and super connector. If you’re looking for someone to help get your business back on track, or connect you with the right people and businesses you need to succeed, Kim is the one to turn to. Visit her site and schedule a free consultation with her at The Coach Shoppe.