If you struggle to reach decision makers, if your messages are rarely returned, and if you’re frustrated with your prospecting results, then try using one of the best-kept secrets of tele-prospecting.
The secret? Call as high up in the organization as you can AND THEN apply the “Squeeze Play.” You’re gonna love this because it really works!
At first blush, this approach would seem to be just the opposite of what you would expect. Executives (VPs and C-Levels) are tough to reach and getting them to respond is even tougher. Protected by personal administrators and voice mail, the odds of speaking to an exec are slim. So how could that improve your prospecting results?
But that doesn’t matter. You don’t have to speak the executive for the Squeeze Play to work. All you need is a simple strategy.
The Executive Suite
When you call higher up, one of two things will happen. You will get lucky and reach the decision maker or, more likely, you will reach a personal assistant. Either way, you can leverage the moment.
The Executive Encounter
Unless you’re selling a strategic product or service, the chances that the executive actually makes the decision to buy is negligible. An underling usually handles those buying decisions and that’s what you are really looking for. Begin by identifying yourself, where you are calling from and the nature of your call. They key here is to acknowledge that the executive may not be the right person and ask for guidance,
“Ms. Bigge, I know you probably don’t handle this type of purchase but perhaps you could steer me in the right direction.”
You’ll find the vast majority of executives appreciate your candid nature and will give you the name of the person in charge, the ‘underling.’ Now here’s how you complete the call and set up the Squeeze Play,
“Thank you Ms. Bigge for your time. I’ll call ____ today and then I’ll let you know how it went by the end of the week. How does that sound?”
Either the executive will say yes to your suggestion or she’ll explain you don’t have to call back. It doesn’t matter. You’ve set the stage.
The Personal Admin Encounter
You can use the same tactic if you reach a personal secretary. They’ll be glad to refer you to the proper underling. Be sure to thank secretary and let her know you’ll give them an update by a specific date and time.
The Underling – Voice Mail Squeeze Play
Call the underling. If you encounter voice mail, leverage the call to the executive suite and induce the Squeeze Play. Leave the following message,
“Mr. Underling, I was just speaking to Ms. Bigge (or I was just speaking to Janet, Ms. Bigge’s assistant) and she suggested I give you a call with an idea we discussed on how to ___________ (fill in your benefits statement)
Would you please give me a call at ______ as soon as possible as I told Ms. Bigge I will get back to her on Friday at 2:00 p.m. regarding the results of our conversation.”
By telling the underling that you will get back to the executive by a given date and time creates the “squeeze play.” At this point, the underling doesn’t know a thing about you except that you have had a chat with the executive (or the executive office). So naturally enough, the underling feels compelled to respond and reply to you…just in case. Et voila!
The Underling – Live Squeeze Play
You can use the Squeeze Play live as well. In your opening statement, make reference to the discussion with the executive right off the bat,
“Mr. Underling, I spoke with Ms. Bigge regarding ______ (your benefit statement). I am to get back to Ms. Bigge by Friday with regard to our call so if I have caught you at a good time, I’d like to ask you a few questions to get a feel for your situation and to determine if there might be a fit.”
As with the voice mail, the underling knows the executive is somehow involved and will likely feel obligated to answer your questions or set up a telephone appointment sometime before Friday. In this manner, you avoid the brush off objections that typically occur.
Keep Your Word
The beauty of the Squeeze Play is that it is legitimate. You have positioned your executive contact so that it maximizes the opportunity.
Key point: ALWAYS follow through and keep your word. Call the executive or admin back as you promised. This can work for you in two ways.
First, if the underling does not call back, you can call Ms. Bigge and explain you made a few attempts to reach Underling but that he has not gotten back to you. Explain further that you will continue to try and will continue to keep Ms. Bigge updated. In this manner, you are not really “tattling” but rather fulfilling a promise you made to the executive.
Second, if the underling does call you back you must STILL call Ms. Bigge. Regardless of whether or not you get a sale or an appointment or whatever, be sure to give the executive (or secretary) an update. It’s not so much they they really need to know but rather an issue of keeping your word and positioning yourself for future opportunities.
Try the Squeeze Play. It’s easy, it’s ethical and it’s a little edgy. Certainly, it’s different. Most of your competitors don’t use it. Above all, it works very well and that means more decision maker contacts. More opportunities typically mean more sales. Give it a shot