Cold Calling: The Power of Positioning

The time-honored story around the Midwest is “The Wizard of Oz.” Can you imagine what a shock it would be to go to sleep in the Midwestern United States and wake up in the Land of Oz!

The splendor and excitement of arriving in a new land, full of new possibilities you never even dreamed possible …seems to be a kindred reaction of sales professionals who, after years of rejection from the executive suites, seemingly overnight find themselves regularly conducting business in the executive suites.

Now, if you’re at all like your colleagues, you believe the Wicked Witch is personified in gatekeepers. Those executive assistants who seem determined to keep you from going through the castle gates and into the presence of the great and powerful Wizard.

Just in case you’re not used to calling on top decision makers, you’ll be glad to know executives don’t resemble the Terrible Wizard anymore than the mild mannered showman professor did in the land of Oz.

An executive is just a man or woman in charge of a company, looking for the safest way to navigate the business and its people through the storms of commerce. And contrary to popular misconception, the executive assistant is really more closely aligned with the Good Witch Glenda who can tell you how to get to the great, powerful, mighty Oz.

When you ask them, executive assistants will tell you they like to be treated with respect (who doesn’t). They’ll also let you know that one of her primary directives is to protect the executive’s time from very draining people who suck up a lot of their precious time and provide nothing in return.

It is a little known fact that she is also on the look out for people who can help the executive. The key to having the executive assistant to recognize you as a caller whom she should admit into the executive suites is to use the words executives use when talking with the assistant.

As businesses grow, the executives’ skill set grows to accommodate the needs of the business. While incubating the business many need for the executive to “do it all”, book keeping; sales; marketing; and so forth. And the executive is challenged with figuring out “how to do everything that needs doing.”

Then, as the business grows, the business hires professionals to do all of the “how to stuff”. The executive finds it necessary to transforms himself from being the “how to guy” into becoming the “what guy.” The guy who decides “what” the company will be doing as the years progress, and leaves the figuring out of the “how” to those at lower levels of the organization.

So when a sales professional calls the office of the executive and the assistant hears the caller spew out “how his company can serve the executive ” the assistant immediately transfers the call down the organizational ladder.

This frustrates many a sales pro as they conclude the call was transferred because of the gatekeeper. When, in fact, the call would not have been transferred had the caller used the right language.

Most sales professionals have the subconscious thinking of a “how” person and, to successfully sell to executives, want to learn the best way to approach the “what” person.

Without a change of language, you’ll sound like a “how” person who is a better fit with low level decision makers than executives. Executives know this. Executive assistants know this.

The overwhelming majority of your colleagues do not grasp the importance of this kind of positioning. And most of those who do know, don’t know how to make a change of thinking that positions them as belonging at the top.

Even better to have the executive assistant on your side … did you know she is actually looking for people to invite into the executive suites and present solutions to the executives business issues?

So next time you hang up the phone thinking, “That ‘Witch’ referred me down.”, know that most likely the reason for her decision had to do with the words you spoke.

OK, Dorothy, now is the time to own your own power. Examine the words you speak. Learn the verbiage that positions you as the “what guy/gal” for your industry and then marvel as the Wizard says “he’d like to talk with you”.

Your rock solid positioning is to have the executive assistant as your “right hand person” and strongest ally.