Almost everyone appreciates compliments, and hearing a favorable remark will often inspire someone to make the effort to live up to that compliment. For example, if you’re trying to get a Gatekeeper at a company to help you connect with an unnamed Decision-Maker, you might say, “You sound like a helpful person who knows what she’s doing; if anyone there can get me to the right person, I’ll bet you can.” It’s amazing how effective this strategy can be in helping you get to the right person.
Here are some other ways to leverage people’s assistance by inspiring them to “make good” on your admiring remark:
Asking for referrals – “You’re so involved with the local business community, I’m sure you know more key people than just about anyone. They say you’re the ‘go to’ person for business introductions and that’s why I’m pretty sure you can help me….”
Getting solutions from Customer Service – “Of all the people I’ve dealt with at your company, you’re the one person who consistently knows what’s going on and where to get assistance, so I’m pretty confident you’re going to be able to solve this one for me too.”
Getting to the right person – “I know you’re busy, but you sound like someone who can actually help me find my way though the phone system there. I bet you can get me to the Risk Manager or someone from that department so I’m not lost in revolving voicemail loops.”
Getting the X-date and more – “I’ve been trying to reach your boss, Carl Henderson, but he’s a busy person. Since you’re his assistant, I’m sure you appreciate the importance of not wasting his time. We’d like to provide a competitive insurance review for the company, but I don’t want to be taking his time on the phone or spinning our wheels if that’s out of the question this year. Do you know when the policies will expire and if he’s going to be talking with any brokers before then?”
Uncovering sales intelligence – “One of the people in the HR department there told me that if anyone knows if the company is going to be talking to outside brokers this year, it’s going to be you. So I’m betting you’ll be able to answer a couple of quick questions for me….”
And finally, Bob Burg, author of Endless Referrals, suggests a good phrase to use for engendering support from people who might be able to send business your way sometime. When you meet a potential referral source, be proactive in asking how you can help them: “Sonia, how can I know if someone I’m talking to will be a good referral for your business?” This earns the others’ appreciation and plants a seed that may well benefit you in the future.