When I was growing up and going to work with my dad, he always told me, son, remember one thing be nice to the people at the front desk and who answer the phones; they are the most important people at the office. It didn’t make much sense to me as a kid. When I started my first sales job out of college and started calling on purchasing managers and decision-makers within the company, this advice started echoing in my head. Kelly, be nice to the people who answer the phone and whom you first encounter. Some of the best connections I made and some of the most influential people in my sales career were the people who were the “gatekeepers” at the office. You never know the influence that these gatekeepers may have on business decisions. Especially in a smaller business. However, even if they are someone who never makes decisions, they can undoubtedly be someone who can make sure you are kept away from the decision-makers.
I think this sentiment is shared a lot in sales; you never know how your interactions can affect your sales. I think dad’s advice needs to be repeated and echoed. Sometimes you can be so focused on the goal and your rehearsed sales pitch that you can overlook people. One rule of thumb is your first interaction should include:
- Use simple manners such as asking how they are.
- Learn their name.
- Find out about their family and interests.
Use the same energy and probing questions you would do for the potential decision-maker in the interaction with the first person you meet when calling or visiting an office.
The same can be said for spouses and children of those decision-makers. I am reminded of the movie “Hitch”; if you are out at an event, pay more attention to the friend of the person you are interested in courting. The same can be said for a prospective buyer at a sales dinner or event. Be engaged and interested in learning about the spouse or companion in the evening. If you are pleasant to the companion that evening, that person will talk to the decision-makers about how they should do more business with you. People bring work home with them, and when they talk about their day, they will ask how that friendly salesperson is doing.
Always be kind to all your employees, even if they are not direct reports. Make sure you check in with everyone, and all your interactions are done with the courtesy that you would treat a potential customer. Like the customer example above, being nice to an employee’s spouse, partner, and children can also be effective. If you are using the sincere sales approach in management, you are treating everyone with the same tenor and tone as you would a potential salesperson. The same can be applied to being a successful manager.
I would like you to try this week if you are selling on the initial call or sales visit, have a conversation with the person who answers the phone or first come in to contact on a sales call. If you are a manager, go around and say good morning to everyone in the office weekly. If you see an employee’s spouse or children at the office, engage them. If you like what you are reading, please subscribe to the blog, connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on Twitter.