Pushy salespeople? Here’s what to say

As office gatekeepers, dissuading aggressive salespeople is a challenge that many admins struggle with, and one sought advice for addressing the situation on the Admin Pro Forum:

“I find that many salespeople ask specifically for my boss, but I am stumped at how to handle them when they’re very persistent. How do you deal with these folks?” — Lisa, Executive Assistant

Fellow admins offered their experience-tested tips for pushing back:

Establish a script of your own. Lynn reminded us that “the caller always has a game plan; as a gatekeeper, so should you. When someone calls trying to speak to the boss, I deflect with questions of my own: ‘Who is calling, please?’ ‘What is the nature of your call?’ ‘If you would like to send us some information, we are happy to review it. If we have an interest, we will contact you.’ If the caller is persistent, keep repeating the information you have already given.”

Ask a few questions. Lisa seeks to redirect people to the proper department. “Surprisingly, some even seem grateful to be directed to the correct person!” Charisse said she uses a similar approach. “I ask them a lot of questions to their questions. … Most times they get frustrated and hang up but when they answer, I usually know who to direct them to and it is usually not the person they called for.”

Be polite but firm. Kay shared a story about a caller who called daily, demanding to speak with her boss. “I had to get firm with him and let him know that without telling me his name and why he is calling, he was not going to be able to speak with the CEO or anyone else. It got so bad that a senior executive finally told him that what he was doing bordered on harassment and told him never to call our company again. If you get one like this, don’t hesitate to appeal to someone with higher authority.”