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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.

Get Past the Gatekeeper - Better Cold Calling Results Part III

For the past two weeks, FEI sales leader Zoot has given young salesman Ganymede valuable tips for more effective cold calling. This week: a few more cold calling tips from the master. Remember, fire = print.

It was such a nice sunny day that Zoot decided to work outside. While entering new customer data into FEI’s CRM system, he was approached by a despondent Ganymede.

“Cold calling not going” Zoot asked, laughing at his terrible joke.

“I’m having trouble getting past the gatekeeper,” Ganymede moaned. “Eris, the receptionist at Pappy’s Pottery, keeps stopping my cold calls in their tracks. Sometimes she’ll say, ‘I’m sorry, but he’s not available at the moment.’ Sometimes she’ll say, ‘I’ll transfer you right to him.’ Then three seconds later I’m in voice mail!”

“Getting thwarted by the gatekeeper is one of the most frustrating parts of cold calling,” Zoot commiserated. “Let me make a couple of suggestions that will help ease your misery.

“One of a gatekeeper’s most powerful defenses against cold callers is five little words,” Zoot continued. “‘Is he expecting your call?’”

Ganymede shuddered. “It’d be much easier to get through to Pappy Pappadopoulos—Pappy’s Pottery founder and President—if I could honestly answer, ‘Yes!’ to that question.”

“You can,” Zoot said. “Next time Eris puts you in Pappy’s voice mail, end your message by saying ‘If I don’t hear back from you, I’ll try you again this Wednesday at 10 a.m.’ Then, call at that exact time. When Eris utters those five painful words, you can honestly say that, yes, he should be.”

“Great!” Ganymede exclaimed. “I’ve been calling Pappy’s mid-afternoon. Would I have better luck at another time?”

“Let’s think this through,” Zoot said. “Your goal is to get past Eris to Pappy himself. When do you think would be the best time to call?”

Ganymede rubs his hairy chin. “When Eris is out of the office?”

“Bingo. Try calling before 7 a.m., on holidays or weekends and even Fridays during the summer. Administrative assistants are often not working at these times; executives often are. Calling at these times, you’re more likely to catch Pappy with his guard down, and possibly with more time to talk.”

“Brilliant!” Ganymede cried.

“I have one more tip for you,” Zoot continued. “What do you say to Eris when she answers the phone?”

“I say, ‘May I please speak with Mr. Pappadopoulos?’”

Zoot shook his head. “No good. Think about it. Who does Eris let through to Pappy?”

“His clients, business partners, good friends and family,” Ganymede answered, starting to understand. “In other words, people who are close to him.”

“Right. So your job, when speaking with Eris, is to sound like one of those people. Do some research and figure out what Pappy likes to be called. Sixty percent of people prefer to be called by something other than their given name. Those who know Pappy might call him ‘Pappy,’ ‘Pap,’ or something else entirely. If Eris has any brains, she’ll understand that most callers asking for ‘Mr. Pappadopoulos’ are telemarketers, and exile them to voice-mail land.”

“I’m learning, I’m learning,” Ganymede said.

Latter that day, Ganymede called Pappy and left the negative check-off voice mail Zoot had suggested. Two days later, he called back and got through to Pappy directly. A half-hour phone conversation and a couple of in-person meetings later, Pappy’s Pottery was FEI’s latest customer.

“Congrats on vaulting past Eris,” Zoot said, handing Ganymede a cigar. “I have one more tip that will help in case you ever stumble over the gatekeeper again.

“Can’t wait,” Ganymede replied, chewing on his cigar gleefully.

“Uh, Ganymede?” Zoot said. “You’re supposed to suck on the other end.”

FIRE! Point
Getting thwarted by the gatekeeper is one of the most frustrating parts of cold calling. Three simple tips—leaving a negative checkoff voice mail, calling when the gatekeeper’s more likely to be out of the office, and using the prospect’s first name—could be all it takes to vault over the gatekeeper and get your prospect’s attention.

FIRE! In Action: Don’t Give Up! Persistence is Key to Cold Calling Success

According to a study by, 80 percent of new sales are made after the fifth contact, yet the majority of sales people give up after the second call.

Next week: Zoot gives Ganymede another tip for getting past the gatekeeper.

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