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A Thing The Art of Getting Past the Screener

The Art of Getting Past the Screener

S peaking of art, a passion of mine, I have been making sales calls recently on behalf of the Sonoma County Arts Council. This is the second year that I have agreed to act as the fund-raising chairman for the arts in the county.

Sonoma County, like 60 cities in the U.S., has a major New Year's event called "First Night," which in this case is a performing-arts event that also is used to raise cash for broad-based arts activities, including art education in local schools. So getting businesses large and small to part with their cash is very much a sales call.

While doing this project, I got to use some of the most important skills any of us who make sales calls will ever learn: Treat the gatekeepers or screeners with respect, and they can be your greatest asset in getting to the people you need to see.

In fact, it can be a BREEZE if you follow these simple steps:

Be sure to respect the screener's time and position. Don't assume that because this person sits at the front desk or answers the phone, he/she does not deserve your full attention and consideration.

Recognize the power of the screener and don't underestimate the influence that person might have on the decision-maker. (One receptionist had benefited from the council's arts funding and helped me get to the right person in the right building.) If you make a bad impression there, it will be relayed to the decision-maker. For example, don't peer over the desk and comment on the handsome children in the photo or compliment the screener's attire. You may think you are being kind and friendly, but you might seem insincere and intrusive.

Explain who you are and show you're proud of what you do and how you can help the screener's business. Clever tactics or tricks to get past the screener won't work. Put yourself in the screener's shoes. Would you rather deal with someone who is sincere or someone who misrepresents himself or herself?

Elect to leave your name, company and reason for call. The reason for your call should have two essential elements: It should be a reason the screener wants the message to get to the decision-maker and a reason the decision-maker will want to call you. Leave a message such as, "This is Bob Smith with ABC Processing, and I would like to speak with him about the rash of bad checks that have been passed in the area recently."

Zoom in on the screener as someone who can get you into the decision-maker, not someone who stands between you and the decision-maker.

Expect the screener to do his/her job. The screener is there to find out about you and relay those facts to the decision-maker. The screener also might be expected to render an opinion of whether you are worthy of the decision-maker's time. Sell yourself to the screener. Provide a reason for the decision-maker to see you.

Remember these tips and getting past the screener will be a BREEZE.





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