Are you tired of talking to people without any decision-making power? Wouldn’t you rather walk straight to the corner office and speak with the person who’s actually in charge? Of course you would.

So what’s the fastest way to gain entrance to the “C” suite? When you receive referral introductions from people your prospects know and trust, they (and their gatekeepers) will happily take your call.

Here are two key strategies to get you in and out with a deal in hand:

1.    Dump the script. We’ve all had to make calls from a script at some point in our sales careers. State your name, explain why you’re calling and then relay a brilliantly simple benefit statement about why the prospect would want to schedule a meeting with you as soon as possible.

When you prospect this way, you’ll probably get sent to voicemail and have to leave a message, which, let’s face it, probably won’t be returned. How can you stay fresh and upbeat leaving voicemail messages all day long hoping a live person will actually pick up? My clients tell me they rarely, if ever, answer their office phones. They know it’s a pesky telemarketer calling. Their friends, colleagues and clients always call their cell phones.

In fact, one of my clients publishes his office phone as his “official” number so that it’s the one to appear on any calling lists. When you call, the recording says he doesn’t answer this phone and that you should call his cell number—if you have it. You’ll only have it if he has given it to you or if you’ve exchanged emails and seen it in his signature.

Consider the opposite sales approach. When you receive a referral, you don’t need a script. Your referral source has presold you and your capabilities. All you need to say is who you are and who referred you and then schedule a time to talk. Because you have been introduced by a trusted resource, your prospect wants to hear from you, and the gatekeeper will happily patch you through.

2.    Get the list that counts. The “web 2.0” world promises to increase your prospecting productivity by delivering qualified leads to your inbox at a prospect’s time of need. We’re all familiar with “bought” lists. But take a closer look: Are these really qualified leads or are they just names?

You might also get so-called leads from your website, special offers, email campaigns, direct mail, trade shows, advertising and conferences. But until you qualify them, names are not sales leads. A list will get you to the gatekeeper and no further. The fastest and least expensive way to meet the people you want to meet and who want to meet you is to receive a referral. The referrer can facilitate a personal introduction, bypassing the gatekeeper altogether.

Selling by referral shortens your sales process. You arrive presold, gain the trust of the prospect, eliminate the competition and attract new clients more than 50 percent of the time. No other sales prospecting strategy can claim these results. Get the referral introduction and walk right into the C-suite. The gatekeeper has left the building!

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Joanne Black is a professional sales speaker, sales webinar leader, and author of ‘No More Cold Calling: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust” from Warner Business Books. Visit www.nomorecoldcalling.com. © Copyright 2011 Joanne S. Black. All rights reserved.