How do you get past the "Company Bodyguard" a.k.a. the Secretary?

15 replies
Hey guys,

This might be a stupid question but I've experienced this when trying to reach local businesses.

When someone walks in the door, calls the office, sends an email, sends a postcard or a letter, most of the time, that "marketing piece" goes through the company bodyguard. It may be a secretary, HR dept or whoever it is that presorts the incoming calls/mail.

In fact, I struggled getting to the owner so I can show him the benefits his company will get from using my services.

So, my question still stands: How do you get to the owner, especially the ones who make some money in their business (these owners tend to have someone else do their dirty work).

What do you do? What are some strategies?

Thanks a lot.

#aka #company bodyguard #past #secretary
  • Profile picture of the author Kim Davis
    You call when you know the business is closed and leave a message for the main man. It is the gate keepers job to relay all phones messages to the main man. Sometimes the main man will pick up the messages him/herself before the gate keeper gets there in the morning if they are there first.
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  • Profile picture of the author paulie888
    One way of increasing your "hit" rate, so to speak, is by targeting smaller businesses to call that have 5 employees or less, as this greatly increases the chances that the owner is around for most of the business day, and also the possibility that you can get through to him or her.
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  • Profile picture of the author Peter Helps
    Thanks Kim. That's a great strategy.

    What about mailings like postcards, etc.

    When it comes to companies that make 100k+, I can see the owner of the company giving the sorting of the email to a secretary or the dept with instructions:

    "I don't want to see any solicitation mail. We get enough of that crap"

    Am I way off? What's your take on that guys?

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  • Profile picture of the author peter.max
    I find that if you send a "lumpy" mail in normal post with a small "lumpy" item like a cheap USB flash disk with a web page on it that takes the business owner to Google Keyword tool and some instructions on how to use it for his/her own business.

    The mail can also include a report with the 7 mistakes most businesses make in the Internet.

    The odd package generally make it past the gatekeeper. Those USBs are dirt cheap
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  • Profile picture of the author Kim Davis
    Send the a letter with red ink on top saying www dot theirwebsite dot com Website Repair

    Then inside give them specific details about their website. Send them a review of what you have seen (not everything) that needs improvement on their site for free. Tell them there are a few other things you have noticed about their site that could use some polishing but don't mention what they are.

    You can offer to do a video walk through of their site or you can just do one and send them the link or even better I like the idea above putting the video review on a flash stick. You could also show a few blurbs about what their competitors have that are in front of them that they don't have and how you could help with that and of course leave your contact information with them. If you don't hear anything then wait a week and give them a call. Pretty sure your letter will intrigue them enough to open it and look at it. If you do talk with them tell them they could have their web master fix some of the things or you could handle it if they would like.

    This way you are offering value for free upfront and you are not pushing yourself on them.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dexx
    I normally target businesses with less than 15 employees...better chance the owner will take a look at any messages that come in...

    But I prefer to position myself so that THEY come to ME (target centers of influence, networking events etc.)

    Get your name out there, and what you can do for businesses, and the rest can easily fall into place and snowball from there =)

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    • Profile picture of the author AndrewCavanagh
      Your question actually displays the mistake you're making in your mindset.

      The first thing you need to do is stop trying to "get past" the person you speak to.

      Imagine you were the receptionist.

      How would you feel about people calling you who just wanted to "get past" you?

      How important would that make you feel?

      What would you think of the people who treated you like you were so insignificant that all they wanted to do was push past you and get to talk to someone important?

      Always remember you're dealing with real people here...who live, love breathe...and have real feelings.

      The answer is to treat WHOEVER answers the phone as if they were the most important person you could talk to.

      Imagine the person you're talking to is the business owner.

      Take your genuine rapport...get to know whoever answers the phone.

      As you progress into the conversation start asking the questions you would ask the business owner and you'll find because you've treated the person who answers the phone with respect and you've shown you're genuinely interested in them and their business....your chances of getting put through the owner are excellent.

      Also remember that in many cases the gatekeepers of small business have enormous influence with the owner (in many cases you're talking to the wife or daughter...or someone who's been there since the business started so you're actually talking to one of the key decision makers).

      I don't think it's too wise to be trying to get past someone like that because in the long run you want this person on your side when it's time to ask for a check.

      Kindest regards,
      Andrew Cavanagh
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  • Profile picture of the author Sammy McClane
    FedEx is also good for getting past the gatekeepers. I remember Carlton said once that everyone opens FedEx envelopes, even big time businesspeople.

    - Sammy
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    • Profile picture of the author JustinBrooke
      Two ways I've used to get around the gatekeeper...

      1.) Find out what their business hours are and call 30 minutes
      before or after they open/close. The business owner is often
      the person opening the store or staying the latest. Not always
      but often enough that this works very well.

      2.) Call up and ask for someone else like the maintenance guy,
      IT guy, or someone with a mid level position that probably
      doesn't get called much (this will take a little research).

      Pretend you forgot their name and like you call there all the time.
      Then once you get that person on the phone they'll be much
      less likely to be trained to block you. Much easier to ask that
      person to speak to the owner.

      Example script...

      Them: Tampa City Pool Installers, This is Sherry Speaking

      You: Oh hey Sherry, I need to speak to... damn I forgot his
      name... What's the name of the maintenance guy again?

      Them: You mean Larry?

      You: LARRY THAT'S IT! Yes I need to speak to Larry

      Them: Ok

      Larry: Hello?

      You: Hey Larry ur the guy in charge of the website right?

      Larry: No that's Bob

      You: Oh I'm sorry must of been transferred to the wrong line
      can you transfer me to Bob?

      You ROCK!,
      Justin Brooke

      FREE: spreadsheet of 182 traffic sources (no opt-in)

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      • Profile picture of the author Kay King
        So, my question still stands: How do you get to the owner, especially the ones who make some money in their business (these owners tend to have someone else do their dirty work).
        It's not dirty work - it's prioritizing. You may talking to an Administrative Assistant or an Assistant. Insisting you can only talk to the owner won't get you far unless you can convince that "middle person" you have something valuable to offer.

        When I was Admin for a busy exec for 5 years - the only way to get to him was through me. If you got a message past me - he would give it to me to check out. I prioritized his mail after opening all of it. If your mail was in the bottom stack, he threw it away. My job was to keep him time as uncluttered as possible.

        However, I know there were times when someone was respectful to me and friendly and convincing and was put through to Gil when others with similar offers weren't. He also asked my opinion many times before deciding to go with something that was promoted to him.

        Convince the gatekeeper and you're in. Treat the gatekeeper like an obstacle or an idiot and you can forget about it. If you get through on the phone to the boss in a sneaky way, the first question he'll ask is "how did you get this number"?

        Have something worth offering - convince the secretary or asst that it's worth taking to the boss and you'll get through. If you can't convince the gatekeeper of the quality of your offer, you'll never convince the top guy.

        Saving one dog will not change the world - but the world changes forever for that one dog.
        If standing up for yourself burns a bridge,
        I have matches. We ride at dawn.
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      • Profile picture of the author tryinhere
        Originally Posted by JustinBrooke View Post

        You: Hey Larry ur the guy in charge of the website right?

        Larry: No that's Bob

        You: Oh I'm sorry must of been transferred to the wrong line
        can you transfer me to Bob?
        oh thats sounds fun, and does Bob approve the work orders as well / and rubber stamp the cheques ?

        You: O crap now where do I need to go ? to the boss man who i am guessing would be pizzled at this caper.
        | > Choosing to go off the grid for a while to focus on family, work and life in general. Have a great 2020 < |
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  • Profile picture of the author Peter Helps
    Thanks guys,

    These are some powerful strategies, everyone of them.

    Justin, I like your script and idea. Pretty clever way.

    Dexx, that's a great idea because networking can bring in a some really good clients. Do you tend to go to any particular events?

    Andrew, great point and thanks for clarifying it for me. You bring up an excellent point when cold calling. I always do my best to make everyone I speak to feel like they're important. I'll make sure to remember that. Do you usually cold call or do you do mailings as well?

    Kim, that's a great ideas as well, especially if you combine your idea with FedEx, putting up a big stamp on top of the fedex envelope.

    Thanks again everyone. Anyone have any other suggestions?

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    • Profile picture of the author AndrewCavanagh
      Originally Posted by Peter Helps View Post

      Andrew, great point and thanks for clarifying it for me. You bring up an excellent point when cold calling. I always do my best to make everyone I speak to feel like they're important. I'll make sure to remember that. Do you usually cold call or do you do mailings as well?

      I rarely cold call but even when you're calling back someone who has contacted you it's very common to get a gatekeeper or employee or spouse on the phone.

      Most members are using snail mail (Amazing 4 Line letter), a little email, business networking meetings, referrals (very important....referrals are usually the best prospects you can get) and various other methods that are a little too complicated to explain in a few phrases.

      We do have a method for leaving messages on the answering machine of the business after hours too. That certainly is worth testing.

      Doing some cold calling is not a bad idea because you get some practice talking to people on the phone...a skill you really want to develop.

      Also if you're good at it it certainly can be a primary method or a method you use in tandem with other methods like email, snail mail, referrals etc etc.

      Kindest regards,
      Andrew Cavanagh
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  • Profile picture of the author Greg D
    A caper? Really, like trying to convince Mr Roper that Jack is gay so he can stay in the apartment? lol

    I think your best bet is to target your market. Start with small companies first. They can be just as profitable for you and have you gain a lot of experience and confidence to take on the big clients with ease.

    Use these strategies given and you will see that you gravitate towards some more than others. When comfortable with one or a few, you will gain a momentum.

    Get to know the 'person' who stands in your way. Remember, not only are they human, they are also doing their job, and in this economic climate, everyone wants to do a good 'job' so they don't lose it.

    Go ahead and explain how your service is a great benefit to the company and can bring in sales....etc.
    Then as you can get this person into an 'agreement' state of mind, ask them directly.....
    Would you be the one who makes the decision on....?

    At this point they basically have to answer yes or no. If they say no and do not direct you to who is, simply ask.

    The send a package idea is awesome as well. If FedEx is too pricey for you, there are other envelopes with a 'priority' design that will get delivered for normal postage rates.

    Look for local business organizations. Start with the local Chamber of Commerce. Ask them as well about local business organizations.

    Send, call them and find out about their meeting schedules (including the Chamber),
    tell them you have a 10 minute talk prepared entitled: "something catchy and head turning here" and you are available to deliver it.

    Local business groups pretty much always look for content to their meetings, and if they can find a guest speaker for no money, they usually are pretty receptive.

    Good Luck.

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  • Profile picture of the author Kurt
    This is actually a very important question, which is "how do you get your foot in the door".

    There's two good books that deal with this, one is called "Selling to VITO". VITO is: Very Important Top Officer (?) and has a little bit on how to deal with secretaries. Dealing with the owners and decision makers of companies is different that selling to most people online.

    However, there's a book called "How To Get In" which only deals with getting in the door. No sales pointers, etc. Just a strategy to get in the door.

    Simply, you create psychological leverage. His strategy is to write contact letters in a way that applies all sorts of leverage on all parties involved.

    There's two kinds of leverage, internal and external. Internal is pressure from withing the company and external is pressure from competitors.

    The first goal is to figure out who the people are in the chain of command. Once you find out the name of the decision maker, you'll want to send a letter to him/her, his secretary and a person above and below the executive ladder, if there is one.

    You'll also send the same letter to the same people at his competitor. The trick is how the leverage is applied...

    When you write the letter, you make sure that it is addressed to EVERYONE and EVERYONE up and down the ladder at both companies know that EVERYONE else is reading the letter.

    A secretary now has to talk to her boss about the letter, she can't just tuck it away in a drawer because she know her boss knows about the letter. This applies internal leverage. They have to deal with your letter. They may not respond to you, but they have to talk it over with each other.

    The letter also is addressed to the competitors, giving them the same offer, but only one company will be able take adavantage of the offer. This creates extrenal leverage. Both companies are aware that the other has the same offer available and if they don't get it, their competitor may.

    There's much more to it, and it gives a detailed plan, but "How to get in" is one of the smartest, best books of any kind I've ever read...His principles of leverage can work in many other ways...If you need email support, send an email to the tech people, the low level boss and the owner, making sure the tech people can see their immediate boss and the owner also know about this problem, and see how much better your support is. The boss is also aware HIS boss (the owner) is aware of the problem, and will exert more leverage on the tech person.

    Best $11 you'll spend if you need to get into a decision maker's office. The Power to Get In: A The Power to Get In: A Step-by-Step...

    If you do off-line, face-to-face marketing, I think this book is essential.
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