Getting past a call screener is easier than you think. Of course, some people are totally confident in their ability to use the phone and get to a decision maker (we generally call them high powered salespeople). However, 90 percent of us are reluctant to pick up the phone and make a “cold call” if we think there’s a call screener involved (we usually call these job seekers).
If you’re not experienced in using the phone, believe it or not, it’s a mostly friendly and helpful world out there. Most executives I know DO screen their calls but generally are courteous and polite and go out of their way to project a good image of themselves and their company. The same holds true for others such as secretaries or administrative assistants … and call screeners.
Still, there is a certain misconception that all assistants will keep you from speaking with their bosses. They do screen calls, but it is part of their job to make sure that contact is made when appropriate.
Know the real reason you’re calling
When you plan to seriously connect, you have specific goals and you use a standardized procedure for making a large number of calls.
Use these tips to get past a call screener
- The best way to get around a call screener is to use a referral from someone well respected by the person you wish to connect with.
- If that isn’t feasible, start by using the name of the person who is the “screener.” Once he or she has been identified, their manner will become more personal.
- When asked your name, identify yourself with an organization if possible. Remember, the more difficult and expert the screener is, the more valuable that person is likely to be, especially as an ally in your future relationships with the firm.
- If you don’t get through on your first attempt, and you can’t get a suitable time to call back, suggest a time when you will call the screener back. Until you have established direct contact, don’t leave messages.
- When you call back, use the screener’s name with the receptionist. After establishing that the person is difficult to reach, try this procedure: “Since he (or she) is so hard to reach, would you do me a small favor? May I call back at ten o’clock to see if he would be interested in speaking with me for a few minutes?” If you must leave a message, leave one of potential benefit to the person you are calling.
- Consider reversing your attempt to speak with the decision-maker. Instead, ask for an internal referral to another line manager in the area in which you wish to make contact.
- After a few minutes of discussion with the call screener, ask two or three penetrating questions about the firm’s needs. When asked difficult questions, those who don’t know the answer are more inclined to refer you to someone who can – hopefully that will be the person you want to speak with.
- If the screener tries to forward your call to someone other than the person you’re wishing to connect with, get the name of the person to whom you will be speaking. Call back later for that person or request an immediate transfer. After a few days, call back the screener and explain that while the person she referred you to was helpful, they couldn’t answer the questions you had in mind and you still need to speak with the person you originally called.
It all boils down to persistence. Whether you’re looking to make a big sale, trying to get in touch with a venture capitalist, or seeking a job, persistence is the one character trait that all successful people claim was vital to their success.
Don’t give up!