Very often, accountants lose contact with clients then find it tough to ‘get
back in’. But doing so is more important than ever given how tough it is to
secure work right now. So how do you get that relationship back on track?
A phone call is normally the first step, but often the trickiest part of the
phone call happens before you’ve even spoken to your target.
How do you navigate past the ‘gatekeeper’ – the secretaries or assistants who
can block your call and keep you from getting to that all-important decision
Secretaries can prove immensely useful – if you get them on your side. It is
part of their job, however, to filter calls. You need to ensure yours isn’t one
that is given the heave-ho.
If you don’t know the name of the person you need to speak with, bear in mind
that many companies have a ‘no name’ policy: if you don’t know the person’s
name, your call will not get put through. That’s where resources such as
LinkedIn come into play. A bit of time spent researching names, job titles and
contact numbers can pay big dividends later.
When speaking with the gatekeeper, remember that being polite is all well and
good but an opening line along the following lines is likely to get the chop
faster than a Tiger Woods advertising campaign: “Hello, it’s Simon Smith calling
from XYZ Accountants and I was wondering if you’d be able to put me through to
the MD. I haven’t spoken to him in a while and I wanted to get in touch to say
hello, and let him know what we’re all up to and… Yes, I can leave a message”.
Instead, imagine you are Donald Trump. How would he approach the call? I
think he’d be blunt and to the point: “Trump here. Rockerfeller in?” Avoid all
normal telephone manners, and while not being impolite, avoid all conditional
sentences – don’t use “should” and “would”. Going for first names only can also
help. “Could I speak with Mr Branson?” is less likely to be as successful as “is
A tone that implies you know the person well and are not the sort to be put
on hold is much more likely to ensure your call goes straight through and you
are not left pressing the pound sign and recording your message.
Jack Downton is the managing director of The Influence Business
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