Tips for dealing with reception and assistants in cold calling

The right way to deal with reception, assistants and decision-makers: How to overcome the most common hurdles in cold calling

In cold calling, the approach of previously unknown leads serves to arrange a meeting. Particularly in the case of a phone call, it is often not possible to contact the relevant decision makers directly. Instead, you first talk to the reception or assistant.

In these conversations, it is often necessary to overcome the same hurdles in order to convince your contact persons to put you through. So, prepare yourself well to respond to objections and provide answers.

When you call the reception of a potential lead, you are oftentimes turned away and not put through. Reasons for this can be that the decision-maker is not in the office or does not have the time. You will probably be asked to send an email instead, which is rarely read, let alone answered. Do not give up. Your goal is to move up a level and gain more direct access to the decision maker. You might respond like this:

  • "Then may I please speak to her/his assistant?"
  • "Could you please give me the assistant's contact information?"
  • "When would be a good time to try again and reach her/him?"
  • "What is her/his direct line?"

Even with the assistants, the conversations often run similarly. They cannot put you through, the decision-maker has no time or interest. You will also be asked to send an e-mail so that the telephone call can be ended more quickly. Respond confidently and politely and but remain goal-orientated.

  • "Then can I have her/his e-mail address, please?"
  • "Let's take a look at his calendar then. How about a call tomorrow at 10:00?"
  • "Can I please discuss this with her/him in person?"

There are also special tips to help you build more trust with your conversation partner and thus increase your chances of success. To do this, refer to previous interactions and thereby convey the impression of the decision-maker's existing interest.

Ideally, you can refer to personal meetings or a direct conversation. But even if you have so far only sent documents and information via social media, you should use this as a door opener. Emphasize this in statements such as:

  • "We are connected via LinkedIn/Xing. I'm calling because we wanted to exchange views on Theme X."
  • "I've sent him some documents and I'm calling to answer his questions about them."
  • "We've been in contact recently and I'm calling to discuss the unresolved matters."
  • "I'm calling in regard to the conversation we had recently at Event X."
  • "I'm calling to provide the information he was interested in at our last meeting."

But even when these hurdles are overcome, objections from the decision-maker are not uncommon either. Potential reasons that you may encounter include: he is not the right person to contact for your topic, the company does not have the problem, or they already have enough alternative providers for it.

It is best to answer this with a counter-question, do not let yourself be turned away.

  • "Who, instead, is the right person for my cause?"
  • "Do you have a specific problem in the implementation?"
  • "So, are things going well for you, or are you having trouble in other areas?"

If you know how to deal with the relevant issues and are prepared to communicate with different contact persons, you will overcome the hurdles of cold calling and achieve the most efficient results.