Cold calling can be one of the most frustrating and difficult parts of B2B sales. Constantly being told no, getting hung up on or even completely ignored is all a part of the process.
Just getting a contact name and number can be challenging. Especially when you are faced with a power-hungry gate keeper.
You know the ones.
They are fueled by the souls of the road-weary sales professionals who even dare step foot near the place of business that they have sworn to protect. They stare at you, almost daring you to enter their arena, glaring as if it’s some sort of Mad Max movie and as soon as the door shuts behind you, you hear them whisper…
“Welcome to the Thunder Dome, beep.” (that beep is the blog version of a radio edit)
If you’ve been in sales long enough, you know just the type I’m talking about.
I’ve met my fair share of these gate keepers, but few have compared to Jeff the Security Guard.
This is his story.
I was working as the Packaging Business Development Manager for a distribution company in Knoxville, Tennessee. My task was to prospect and target “net new” packaging business. All day long I would go out, cold call, gather information for contacts and then go back and make phone calls until my fingers and ears bled.
I had been identified a target that fit our Ideal Customer Profile and had decided to go and make a cold call. I got in my Nissan Rogue and began the 30-minute drive down to the facility in hopes of getting a contact name and number to begin relentlessly pursing.
As I rounded the corner to the facility, I noticed a chain link fence and a guard shack.
And that’s where I met Jeff.
Jeff was probably in his early to mid-60’s and was dressed in a uniform that was about one size too big. He stood outside the entrance of his post, carrying a clip board with so many papers on it the clip looked like it was barely holding on.
Pulling up, he stepped out into the road and gave me the “roll your window down” gesture.
Jeff: “Can I help you?”
Me: “Not sure sir, I sell packaging and shipping products and was hoping to figure out who I might need to reach out to here about that kind of stuff.”
Jeff: “That’s me.”
Me: “Oh, Ok (I was completely confused). You buy the packaging and shipping products?”
Jeff: “Yep. I do. You can leave your pricing and information with me.”
Now obviously I didn’t have any pricing to give. I had no clue what this place was even using or how much. Jeff knew that too.
I also knew that there was no way Jeff was the decision maker on these products and that he was planting his flag as the guardian of this galaxy, where no one would pass without his permission.
Our interaction quickly ended, and I was turned away. He wouldn’t even let me enter the gate so that I could turn around, but instead I had to retreat, backing up while he watched in amusement.
This exact interaction happened 6 times over the next several weeks. Each time I went back, hoping Jeff was off duty, there he was. The worst part for me was that Jeff didn’t even pretend like he recognized me. I got the same treatment every, single time.
Reluctantly, I made the decision to go back for a 7th and final time, however I had decided that this time was going to be different. This was my day. This was my time. No one, not even Jeff the Security Guard was going to stand in my way.
I had a plan.
As I turned the oh so familiar corner, the guard shack and Jeff in sight, my heart was beating out of my chest. I knew what I had planned was either going to be absolutely amazing, or incredibly stupid. Either way, at this point, there was no turning back.
I closed my eyes, gathered my nerve and gripped the steering wheel as tight as I could.
I FLOORED IT!!!!!!
I felt like Vin Diesel in the Fast and Furious, living my entire life in that quarter of a mile.
I could see Jeff’s eyes getting bigger and bigger as I approached, him realizing that I wasn’t planning on slowing down.
I went flying right past him, clipboard and papers flying into the air.
I looked back in my rearview mirror, hoping I didn’t kill Jeff, and notice that he is in a full out sprint chasing after me. I remember thinking to myself, “That dude’s pretty fast for an old guy,” but nevertheless continuing on, into the parking lot.
I parked and began to get out of my Rogue when Jeff approached, huffing and puffing, trying to catch his breath.
Jeff: “WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!?!? WHY DIDN’T YOU STOP?!?!?!”
Me: “What do you mean? I didn’t have to stop?”
Jeff: “WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO STOP?”
Me: “Because of the sign back there."
Jeff: “WHAT SIGN? WHAT DO YOU MEAN?”
Me: "Well, the sign on the fence says, “All Trucks Must Stop”, and well sir, I’m in an SUV."
Jeff looked back at the sign, looked at me, then back to the sign again, and once more back at me. His shoulders slumped and eyes lowered as the redness slowly faded from his face.
He was defeated.
Jeff: “What information are you trying to get?”
I explained to Jeff exactly what I needed and how I didn’t want to bother anyone but get the contact information I needed so that I could call or email and attempt to set up an appointment.
Jeff instructed me to go into the lobby, press “0” and tell the secretary that he said it was ok to give me the information I was requesting.
I thanked him and then apologized for almost running over him and causing him to chase me like we were Smokey and the Bandit.
After telling this story, I’ve been told that I’m insane, crazy and a little reckless. I’ve been told that I crossed a line and was unprofessional.
But here’s what I know.
When faced with an unmovable object, a brick wall standing between me and my goal…. I’m willing to push the envelope, going a little bit farther than most would even dare, just to get to the other side.
So here’s my question.
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