Remember the days when the dreaded executive admin (aka-gatekeeper) would screen all incoming calls to their executives. As a salesperson, you were convinced that they all looked like battle axes, always woke up on the wrong side of the bed and never had even the semblance of a sense of humor. Then the emotionless screening would begin with the typical questions. Who may I say is calling? What is this call in regards to? What is the nature of your call? Please send me your materials and we’ll get back to you if we are interested. Those common refrains were the kiss of death to all sales people. There was a lot of sales effort trying to figure out effective techniques to get past the gatekeeper. Some techniques worked, some didn’t.

A lot of large companies have eliminated the executive administrator roles that used to be so prevalent. Today, you find that more often then not the exec admin or gatekeeper is now voice mail and/or email. Envision the senior executive listening to 50 voice mails with their finger poised over the delete key ready to act after listening to the 1st fifteen seconds of the message. The same metaphor applies to email. Senior execs are quite comfortable making a quick decision whether your message warrants a reply and if not, they delete your messages.

It never ceases to amaze me that some sales people will leave repeated voice mails and emails acting surprised and offended that you haven’t replied to them. Senior execs are inundated with voice mails and emails from sales people and marketing types. They don’t “owe” you a reply and are far too busy to reply unless there is something that makes it worthwhile for them to reply.

Today’s gatekeepers, our good friends email and voice mail are completely devoid of emotion or personality. So if we thought the battle-axes of old were tough, there is not comparison to today’s screening mechanisms. So recognize as a sales person or a marketing person that every email that you construct or voice mail that you leave needs to get right to the point of answering the question why. Why should this busy exec call you back? What is the value that you can provide to them and their company? How are you different from the other people trying to solicit their business? How can you establish some initial credibility in those 10-15 seconds when the finger is poised over the delete key?

Today’s gatekeepers are coldly more efficient than the people that filled that role in the past. Sales people need to understand that fact and be smarter in their approach. Or you can continue wasting your time by leaving additional messages that express your dismay and surprise that you they haven’t replied to your earlier messages.