If everyone picked up their own phone every time it rang, cold calling would be the easiest job in the world. If you’re cold calling regularly, you’ve likely been shut down by a few of these choice statements:
- ele“We’re not interested.”
- “We don’t take unsolicited calls.”
- “You can email us something at info@ ....”
And worst of all, the click of a hang-up.
I’ve been cold calling for 22 years now, and there is still nothing I find as frustrating as a gatekeeper shutting me down before I’ve even had the opportunity to explain why I’m calling.
If this happens to you regularly, head back to the drawing board and examine how you’re opening your conversations. I’m a huge proponent of being honest in ALL interactions with any point of contact in an organization. Don’t lie to people. Don’t say you’ve spoken to someone previously if you haven’t. Don’t pretend you’re someone you aren’t.
Your elevator pitch should be compelling enough to get you past the gatekeeper. We encourage you to pitch the gatekeeper the same as you would any other decision-maker when you’re selling managed services.
They feel the pain of poorly handled IT just as much as or more than any other person in the company—especially if there is a single-point-of-contact contract and they are that contact. They likely handle the vendor relationships as well, so don’t think that the gatekeeper doesn’t have the ability to help you win business.
But what do you do when you can’t even pitch the gatekeeper? What if they absolutely refuse to engage? Here are a few not-dishonest things you can try when you’re getting shut out.
The “Party Crasher”
If you look like you belong somewhere, nobody asks you any questions. Confidently ask for your contact in a way that tells the person answering the phone that they really should know who you are.
- “It’s Carrie Simpson calling for John.”
- “Is John available now? It’s Carrie Simpson calling.”
- “Can you please let John Smith know that Carrie Simpson is calling?”
- “John Smith, please.”
The “How did I get here?”
People love to help. Ask for help instead of demanding an audience.
- “Oh, I’m sorry! I thought this was John Smith’s direct line! It’s Carrie Simpson calling. Sorry for the interruption. Can you transfer me to John?”
- “I need to send an email to John Smith. Can you share that with me? Oh, wait, no—I need to ask him something first. Can you transfer me, please? It’s Carrie Simpson.”
- Hi, I really hope you can help me! I’ve been trying to reach John Smith for a few weeks now. Can you suggest the best time to call him next, or can you calendar a few minutes for me?”
- “Hi there, I’ve been trying to reach John so I can prepare a quote for IT support. Is he the best person for me to chat with about this?”
The “Early Riser”
This one is an easy one. Just call in before office hours and hope they have a dial-by-name directory.
The “Night Owl”
Call after the switchboard shuts down for the night. How often do you leave your desk on time? Odds are your contact works late sometimes, too.
Don’t discount the power of a hand-written note, a small Starbucks card, or another kind of treat to warm up a gatekeeper. You really have to be some kind of something to hang up on a guy who just sent you a note and a gift card for lunch.
Yes, it’s a more expensive strategy. But assuming you’re doing targeted prospecting, you’ll have a carefully cultivated list of a few hundred leads to target, and $5 or $10 to reach that lead is not a huge expense.
And, hey, if you’ve told your receptionist to never let sales reps through, maybe it’s time to rethink that policy. You know what they say about karma.
If you're looking for even more cold calling tips, register for my upcoming April 30 webinar, "How to Use Cold Calling to Drive Leads for Your Managed Service Offering," sponsored by Autotask and Intronis.
Carrie Simpson is the founder of Managed Sales Pros, a lead generation firm dedicated to providing new business opportunities for MSPs. Carrie teaches IT firms how to build, manage, and grow their sales pipelines. You can follow Carrie on Twitter @sales_pros and connect with her on LinkedIn.