Be prepared when they ask ‘What is this regarding?’
Jeffrey — When the gatekeeper asks to take a message, or alert the person you are trying to reach that you’re calling, and they ask, “May I ask what this is regarding?” would you just say, “Yes, I would like to ask your boss to buy something”? What is your angle on this? I sell advertising for a broadcast television station. Thanks for your time and your help! — Rob
Rob, “May I ask what this is regarding?” is a question with 2.5 answers.
Answer 1 would be the boring “I sell advertising, and I want to know if the boss wants to buy some.” This will get you no place.
Answer 2 is a more inventive one. It states the benefits of ownership or outcome. In your case, it would be, “I want to talk to him about generating more qualified sales leads for his sales team.”
Answer 2.5 is a cute one. You can start out boring and say, “It’s a business matter of a personal nature.” Or you can just say, “No, it’s a secret.” That one has worked for me. Or you can say something intriguing like it’s about air, and how you’re taking advantage of it. Or you can say it’s about 1 minute.
When someone says, “What’s this in reference to?” it means that your call is being screened because they don’t know you. The object in sales is to become known. If your name were Tiger Woods, would she say, “What is this in reference to?”
Wouldn’t it be cool to say to the gatekeeper, “He’ll know what it is in reference to,” or “Just tell him it’s Jeffrey on the phone; he’ll know.” Isn’t that more powerful than trying to make up some salesy or goofy message?
My opinion is that once the gatekeeper says, “What’s this in reference to?” eight out of 10 times your call will not get through. You’ll be forwarded to someone else, you’ll be asked to send literature or you’ll be politely refused and hear, “We’re not interested.”
Here are a few things you can do to avoid “What’s this in reference to?”
1. Scour your local business journal or other business magazines for articles that you think will benefit the recipient of your call.
2. Scour your local business journal or other business publications for a potential sales lead for the person or company you are trying to connect with.
3. Find something that was written about the company you are trying to connect with. Mail it to your prospect with a note that says, “Nice article. I’d love to talk to you for 60 seconds.”
3.5. Because you are in the media (and even if you’re not), prepare a 30-second WOW message that is so compelling, they almost have to take your call. Something about differentiating yourself from your competitors. Something about greater productivity in the workplace. Something about profit. NEVER offer to save anyone money. This is the biggest mistake salespeople make. They think a message about saving someone money will entice them to pick up the phone. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Ever get a call at home from a long-distance phone company wanting to save you money? What do you do? You hang up. You’re angry that someone wants to save you money. Instead of saving, think earning more profits. Earning more profits will gain you the attention of any corporate executive.
The object of getting a call through is to be intriguing and to be perceived as a person who has something of value to say — something that is actually worth listening to, and something that is worth responding to.
If your message sounds like everybody else’s, odds are you’ll get treated like everybody else. You won’t get your call through. And if you get to a voice mail, you won’t get your phone call returned.
“What’s this in reference to?” is an opportunity — and a report card. The opportunity is for you to be creative and thereby get through on a higher percentage of your calls. The report card is that you are not very well known in your industry or your community.
And in sales, it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.
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Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of “The Sales Bible” and “The Little Red Book of Selling” and president of Charlotte, N.C.-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service at www.trainone.com. He can be reached by phone at (704) 333-1112 or by e-mail at email@example.com.