You Have a Friend on the Front Line
by Joe Bonura, CSP
DEVIL OR ANGEL
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 executives front line of defense as the
enemy a devil in disguise. Salespeople are usually disappointed
with the receptionists reaction because they often get the
icy greeting they subconsciously create. Her response to you is
a mirror image of your attitude toward her.
ANGEL AT THE GATE
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.
SHAKE AND MAKE
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.
A LIVING EXAMPLE
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.
TOUGH AS NAILS
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
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.
I NEED YOUR HELP
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, Heres
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.
IN A NUTSHELL
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.