Those of us who have made over 100 calls a day know that the receptionist can be your best friend - or your worst enemy - when it comes to getting through to the right person. Here are some tips from the front lines to make your next cold call a success.
1. Be authentic
One of the best ways to get the ear of a receptionist with a chronic case of the Mondays is to bring some authenticity into the conversation. After all, you know what it’s like to be stressed, overworked, and under-appreciated, right? So do they. If you express a little empathy, you’re bound to find some common ground.
For example, try being brutally honest and say, “Yeah, we’re trying to reach out to people in our industry and I got the short end of the stick today and had to make calls.”
All of the sudden, you’re just a regular guy, doing your job as best you can - just like they are.
I’ve also learned NOT to ignore the dude on my list with the horrifyingly unpronounceable name. Mr. Schnicklebrughaphwicz? Sure, I could take a stab at it, but I'd probably butcher it just like the last B2B caller did. My advice? JUST ASK.
“Hi, I’m calling to reach the head of HR, but I’m having some trouble pronouncing his last name. Could you help me with that?”
Now you seem intelligent, relatable, responsible, respectful, AND you’ve started a dialogue. Not bad for two sentences.
2. Demonstrate respect
Showing respect to the receptionist on the line goes a long way to getting you what you want. You can even let them know that you know they’re the ones in the know, ya know?
“I really hate to bother you with this, but we’re all aware of who really understands what’s going on in the company,” *wink wink*
It works, because - per section 1 - it's stating what is true. “Assistants, operators, and receptionists are the front lines of a company. They know what’s up,” explains Rick Blythe, Principal and founder of lead-generation firm, Blythe Associates.
“Making them feel like the valued ally they are - while also assuring them that you’re not there to make their job more difficult by trying to skirt around company policy, - can earn you a lot of trust.”
On the other hand, being aggressive can really kill your chances of getting what you called for. “Lack of respect or active aggression will not only guarantee you get hung up on, but the staff will talk about you afterward. It leaves a very bad impression," says Rick.
3. Don’t take yourself too seriously
No really, humor at one’s own expense is another great way to get your receptionist on your side.
We callers have all stumbled over our scripts like idiots at one time or another. In those moments, the only way to recover is by letting down the pretense and saying something like, “Oh geez, I'm sorry. I can’t speak today! It must be Friday.”
But accidents are the mother of invention, and sure enough, the line gets a laugh from most receptionists with a heart.
It’s happened the other way around too - the operator gets tongue-tied, and capturing that moment with a quick, “I know right? That happened to me just a minute ago.” is just as effective at getting a dialogue going on a cold call
We all make mistakes and have to laugh it off. It’s human, and puts people on equal footing. And when it comes to cold calling, equal footing is great grounds for getting transferred to the right person - and getting what you called for.