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 so…hot?” 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?”

T.J. Tedesco is a sales growth, business strategy, marketing and PR consultant operating at the intersection of clear vision, compelling content and effective outreach practices. For nearly two decades, T.J. has been an independent consultant and sales growth team leader. Previously, he sold commercial printing, graphic arts machinery and supplies, and finishing and bindery services. T.J. helps North American companies with content development, Web and print design leadership, nurture marketing programs, sales coaching, sales team alignment and business strategy. Since 1996, T.J. has worked with more than 100 clients on retainer, 80 percent in the graphic arts industry. T.J. is author of "Win Top-of-Mind Positioning," "Playbook for Selling Success in the Graphic Arts Industry," "Fire! How Marketing Got Hot," "Direct Mail Pal" and four more books published by PIA. He can be reached at (301) 404-2244 or
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  • multi-tasking1

    Thanks for the article!
    The next question begs to ask – At what interval does a person try to contact the prospect?

    I’ve been told that you have to have 7 positive meetings before you can determine whether to continue to pursue or drop them.

  • prez

    WOW, I’ve finally found the person who teaches that rude is better than manners.
    I am offended when a complete stranger takes the liberty of using my first name instead of Mr., what gives you that right? Maybe my parents were wrong when they raised me to be polite. Manners and courtesy will win out every time.

  • TomCostello

    T.J. I was so surprised that salespeople had such a challenge getting past the gatekeeper I included an entire chapter addressing this issue in my new book "Prepare for Liftoff – How to Launch a Career in Sales". If one can’t get past the gatekeeper on his first try, he should consider another line of business. Thanks