Quiz: How to Bypass a Gatekeeper

Scenario: You need to reach a certain individual (a customer executive) -- or you're going to lose a big sale. Only one problem: the receptionist will simply NOT put you through. The closest you got was the voice mail to the assistant to the executive's secretary. You decide to give it one last shot. You dial the phone and get the receptionist...

Who do you ask for?

Note: The right answer contains "secret" information that will allow you to get through (most of the time at least) to almost ANYBODY in the corporate world.
You asked for "The Executive."
WRONG!

That didn't work before and it didn't work this time either. The executive's secretary answered the phone and sent you to the "general" voice mail box.

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You asked for "The Executive's Secretary."
WRONG!

That didn't work before and it didn't work this time either. The executive's secretary's assistant answered the phone and sent you to the "general" voice mail box.

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You asked for "Somebody in Marketing."
WRONG!

You figured that if you could get somebody from the marketing group on the line, that person would put you through to the executive you want to reach.

Sorry, though. The marketers are all at an offsite strategy session at a luxury hotel. You got put into their "general marketing" voice mail.

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You asked for "Somebody in Sales."
WRONG!

You figured that if you could get somebody from the sales group on the line, they'd help you out, because (after all) you're both in sales.

Sorry, though. The sales group is far too busy to handle calls from non-customers. So they transferred you over to the receptionist again.

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You asked for "Human Resources."
WRONG!

It was the human resources group that set up the system of impenetrable gatekeepers. They're the LAST people who are going to help you out. On the other hand, you might ask them whether they've got any sales positions open....

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You asked for "Accounts Recievable."
CONGRATULATIONS!

That is the correct answer! Here's why.

Companies always want to get paid. Because of this, there is ALWAYS somebody answering the phone personally for Accounts Receivable. Furthermore, that person usually isn't trained as a gatekeeper, because the only place where they have gatekeepers for Accounts Receivable is on Bizarro World.

Now that you've got a human being who's not a gatekeeper, you're half-way there. Apologize for getting connected to the "wrong" department and then ask for the exec's direct dial extension. Write it down.

Here's the best part. Ask: "Could you please transfer me?" In most cases, you'll be put through, which means that the exec's phone will ring, displaying the internal extension that transfers the call. If the exec has caller ID, it will immediately raise the question: "Why in God's name is somebody in 'accounts receivable' calling me?" And, presto, you're on the phone with your target.

If you don't get the connection that way, though, you now have the exec's direct dial, so you can call repeatedly until you get the exec on the line. The best time to do this is around 8am, because the exec will probably be at work, while the receptionist and the exec admin have yet to arrive. (See: "QUIZ: What's the Best Time to Cold Call" for more on this.)

Is it foolproof? No, but it's got a good chance of working. By the way, I realize that this is bordering on manipulation. But sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

You asked for "The CEO."
WRONG!

You've got to be kidding me. If your executive target is unavailable, you can bet that the CEO is surrounded by guard dogs. No way are you going to get through. You'll be lucky if you don't get your phone number blocked.

Try again! »