I am not sure if it is the cold weather, continuous talk of mounting personal debts or the fact that I am simply turning into a grumpy old woman but I have seen a number of articles this week that have made my blood boil.
All of these so-called sales intelligence features are claiming they can offer sales professionals the solution to that all important hurdle of getting past the Gatekeeper.
All of them offer the same advice: use humour, make her/him feel needed by appealing to their desire to help and, finally, treat them like an expert. Now, on the face of it, these could all be sound valid initial approaches to avoid disturbing the fire breathing dragon’s equilibrium.
However, it is the condescending manner in which they advise to go about achieving this that has me cringing almost as much as the equally sartorially disturbing unofficial uniform of the sales professional – you know, the pointy shoes, brushed forward gelled hair and white entry-level Porsche, all designed to show how smooth and smarmy they are!
So, let me give me you some genuine insight into a day as a EA/PA – as a general rule of thumb we are among the busiest people in an organisation, working many hours beyond our paygrade and spinning a large number of very delicate plates.
With this is mind, it’s not hard to imagine that having someone on the phone trying to make us feel important when they have no idea who we are (and ‘no’, I have no interest in you getting to know me better and discussing my home life with you) is actually just another time-wasting irritation.
DO NOT try and make me feel important with lines such as “at last, it’s good to finally talk to someone with a brain”, or “speaking to high-achievers always fills me with confidence”. The crass insincerity oozes out of every syllable and just makes me feel like asking you some stupid question like: “Do those extraordinarily pointy shoes not give you corns?” (Possibly you can tell I have had a run-in with a sales guy in pointy shoes this week?)
The only way to get past me is be sincere with a straight, honest approach and have thoroughly researched both the company and the target prospect you wish to speak and pitch to.
And ‘yes’, humour goes a long way but not when it’s entirely unnecessary – Gatekeepers have little enough time for a proper home life let alone spending ages listening to you audition for ‘Live at the Apollo’.
I have no desire to hear another needless joke or be repeatedly referred to as “darling”. If you do this, I will simply do my favourite trick of putting you through to said pointy shoe wearing sales guy – so you can both smarm the day away together!