Assertive gatekeeping

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in Office Management

Supervisors depend on you to protect their busy schedules, leaving you to deal with calls from sales representatives. You tell the rep you’ll pass the information to your supervisor, and someone will follow up should there be an interest. However, your words fall on deaf ears, and they continue to follow up. Some even stretch the truth in hopes of making a sale. So what do you do?

First, be less frustrated and more empathetic. Keep in mind that salespeople are a lot like you. They have emotions, worries, motivations and, like you, a boss with high expectations and a job to do. Their paycheck and livelihood are directly affected by their ability to speak to the decision-maker.

They know that if they don’t connect directly, the likelihood of making a sale is slim no matter how clearly you share their information with your supervisor. Hence, the persistence.

Second, speak your truth. As both a former administrative assistant for a high powered CEO, as well as, a national sales trainer who teaches others how to build relationships, I recommend being honest and direct, but that you also acknowledge their situation. “I appreciate that you would prefer speaking directly to my supervisor on this matter as no one can present your information as well as you. However, per her request this is how we work. Please forward your information to me. If there is an interest, one of us will be in contact. Thank you for honoring our process.”

If they won’t accept your answer, and keep trying to persuade you otherwise, just be a broken record: “Yes, I can appreciate your desire to connect, but this is our system in these circumstances.”

What about the marmy people who use manipulative tactics? Salespeople who try to get through by being less than truthful don’t deserve the opportunity.

When your intuition tells you something is off, be direct and ask, “Is this call related in any way to you presenting an opportunity to Ms. X?” If so, you are welcome to provide information to me and I will present it if there is a fit.”

It’s OK to be firm, direct and polite. After all, your supervisor is counting on you.

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