"You Have a Friend on the Front Line"

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You Have a Friend on the Front Line
by Joe Bonura, CSP



You can only make the sale if you get through the receptionist to get to the buyer. The response you get from a receptionist is in direct proportion to your attitude toward her. Most salespeople approach the busy executive’s front line of defense as the enemy – a devil in disguise. Salespeople are usually disappointed with the receptionist’s reaction because they often get the icy greeting they subconsciously create. Her response to you is a mirror image of your attitude toward her.


Success begins and ends in your own mind. Thinking of the person at the front desk as a gatekeeper negatively impacts your facial expression, body language, and demeanor; and conversely, it also changes the demeanor of the gatekeeper towards you. She now puts you in the same category as the hundreds of other peddlers she is faced with day-in and day-out. To change her negative reception to a positive reception, you must change your negative perception of her position. If she allowed everyone entrance to her boss, she would lose her job. Since what you think is what you get, stop thinking of her as the gatekeeper, and begin thinking of her as the gate angel. You can approach her with a different attitude because she is there to help you to get to Oz, where the client is.

One salesperson called the receptionist, The Window Witch. It is no wonder that they were ending up on the wrong side of Oz. They now call her The Window Angel.


Always smile when you approach the gate angel, greet her with a gentle handshake, and say, “Hi, my name is ____________. What is your name?” She will be forced to stop what she is doing and focus on you. At this point, you have made both facial and physical contact with her, and you have also differentiated yourself from all the other visitors whom she encountered that day.


Recently, I went on a sales call with a salesperson who took me to one of his, as he called it, “tough ones.” He told me that he had been unsuccessful in getting past the receptionist.


I walked up to her desk, reached out and shook her hand. I said, “Hi, my name is Joe, what is your name?” She said, “Mary.” I glanced down and saw that her fingernails were painted like individual works of art. I said, “Wow! Your nails are beautiful, and who did them for you?” With obvious pride, she answered, “I used to be a nail tech; I did them myself.” I was curious, “Must have taken all day?” “No.” she said, “It took only fifteen minutes.” I held out my free hand and showed her my nails, “What about these?” She chuckled, “You need help.”


At this point, I introduced her to Mike, the sales representative. For over a year, he had been calling on her, and he had never really met her. His usual routine was to throw his business card at her, and to expect her to fetch the client. Never lead with your business card. Always lead by first showing the receptionist that you are more interested in her.


My next statement to Mary was, “Mary, I need your help.” Notice that I did not say, “Can you help me?” There is a big difference in the two statements. “Can you help me?” is a cliché; she hears it all the time. “I need your help” is a more powerful statement. People love helping others, and “I need your help,” sounds more urgent.


My next question was, “Mary, what do we need to do to see Johnny?” Her response was, “Let me get him for you.” She left her desk and headed for his office. It is the same thing that my secretary would do if she wants me to see someone who has made a good impression. Mary returned with Johnny and said, “Here’s Johnny!”


Notice that she did not pick up the phone to warn Johnny with their pre-arranged signal that a salesperson was waiting in the lobby to see him. Also notice that I used the words “What do WE have to do?” and not “…I have to do?” When I said, “What do WE have to do,” she became a member of my team.


1. Approach the gate angel with a smile
2. Reach out and shake hands
3. Introduce yourself with your first name and get her first name
4. Repeat her name and say, “I need your help.”
5. Ask, “What do we need to do?” to accomplish your objective

Treat the gate angel as the most important person in your sales career. She can be your devil or angel; it is all up to YOU!


© 2004 Joe Bonura & Associates, Inc.

To see Joe and hear one of his favorite selling tips, follow this link to a video he created to share with folks who are interested in making more sales, or finding a job:



Joe Bonura would be pleased for you to reprint the article text free of charge (non-exclusively), but asks that you include his name and contact information:

Joe Bonura
Joe Bonura & Associates, Inc.
Website: www.bonura.com
407 Landis Lakes Court
Louisville, KY  40245

(502) 553-1746 phone

E-mail: joe@bonura.com

About Joe Bonura

His background is unique. Joe owned and operated a highly successful advertising agency for 18 years. During that time, he found his advertising campaigns were more effective when he educated his clients in the areas of sales and service. He conducted training seminars for his clients as added value. Word spread that Joe was a quality speaker and more and more people asked him to speak. The demand became so high that he sold the agency to three of his associates to start his own speaking and consulting company, Joe Bonura & Associates, Inc.

Joe is past President of the Kentucky Speakers Association and a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), a prestigious designation earned by only 8% of the 3,600 member National Speakers Association. Joe presently serves on the board of directors of NSA.

He is author of the audio learning systems "Three-Dimensional Selling®" and "Turning Customer Satisfaction Into Customer Excitement®." He is author of the book Throw the Rabbit—The Ultimate Approach to Three-Dimensional Selling.




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