“Call back tomorrow.” If, like me you’re sick of hearing this answer, then you’re not alone. It’s the ultimate weapon in any receptionists arsenal. Well, those calls don’t have to be a fight.
Recruitment, at it’s core, is a sales game. To pretend otherwise would not only be ignoring the monthly target staring you in the face, but you’ve lost your pitch before you’ve started. Remember when someone answers the phone and you introduce yourself, they are expecting a pitch, so give them one.
This is something that I am constantly thinking about when approaching new clients, will they let me speak to HR or management? And what do I say when I do get through.
Well, luckily I work within a fantastic team who are always on hand to share their experience acquired over careers far longer than mine. (Manners permit me from saying a number but I think they helped recruit the production staff for Henry Fords first factory…) Moving on swiftly, before they see the age reference… So yes, experience, the best lessons you learn are from the experiences of others as well as yourself.
One of the best pieces of advice I had regarding cold calling came after a colleague listened to a call of mine, I had lost before I’d started, everything about the call was wrong, leaving me frustrated and out in the cold as I was hung up on.
What has to be kept in mind is, regardless of how well formed your pitch may be, the ‘Gatekeeper’ also serves a very important role, limiting contact to their senior colleagues. So bearing this in mind, they are not the enemy, but possibly the most powerful ally you could have.
Next, and quite possibly the most important thing, is to sound senior, this is not to be confused with arrogance or superiority. Remember, the ‘Gatekeeper’ is there to control access to their seniors. So don’t apologise, you only made the call to speak to management, so by letting your tone speak for you the, ‘Gatekeeper,’ more often than not, will pass you through. Although, as my Father has always told me “treat the receptionist the same as you treat the MD, people talk.” So, again, don’t let seniority become superiority.
Moving on, whilst the ‘Gatekeeper’ is there to decide whether you move on or not, do not give them your sales pitch, save that for the right person, or they may decide they can answer your questions. Believe me you don’t want to hear someone tell you that, in their opinion, your services aren’t needed, how would they know what jobs are available. No, don’t get sucked in, be polite, be precise, if they persist don’t be contrite, get through the gate and make your pitch, don’t ever turn it into a fight.
Now, you might be asking, how do you sound so calm? Well,, aside from remembering to breathe, and drinking a small reservoir of water each day. How about remembering that this is your job, you speak to people every day, you know your product so don’t get nervous and don’t read from a script, let the conversation happen, break the ice, don’t try and precariously walk over, the waters warm so break through and smile and dial.
Okay, so now you’re full of my similes and ready to smash the phones, please allow me to leave you with one last piece of advice. Always have a plan B, if you have researched the company before making the call, then you’ll hopefully have some names already. Listen to the receptionist’s email and work out if the way it’s written will allow you to directly contact their senior. If, after this, you’re still out in the cold, ask to leave a voicemail.
Finally remember that sales is an art, and with art it’s down to the beholders interpretation. Explore some techniques, learn from your colleagues and tailor everyones advice into your own arsenal of tactics. There’s a reason we’re called ‘Inspired By People,’ they’re who we learn from. After all, the more you learn, the better your chances of success.