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The phone is between you and is both an offensive and defensive weapon. 5/31/2018 | Joel Schaffer, MAS, The Take Away
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Forgive me for telling the tales of long ago, but this is timeless and would work today. I worked for a millionaire friend of mine who weighed about 350 pounds, had polio as a child and limped badly. His appearance was no doubt a handicap for him as he sought a job. He wound up in personnel, founded his own employment agency, and grew it with offices in America and Europe. He had many exclusive clients at the time such as CBS, American Express, etc. His skills on the phone were second to none. He had, as they say, a “big pair” and would do anything he could to secure an appointment or get the person on the other side of the phone to take his call and listen to him. I sat at a desk directly opposite him as he was training me. I learned about resumes, candidates, etc.

The key to a successful “flesh peddler” was to call, call, and call businesses in the area to find job openings, then supply candidates, get a hire, and land the fee. However, the best of the best peddlers made things happen when they had an all-star candidate.

Jack had such a candidate - a CFO type with a most perfect resume. He asked... “who do you want me to call to get him an interview?” I had a large directory of businesses in NY/NJ/CT. I opened it and picked Nabisco. I gave him the phone number and the name of the corporate President, as listed in the directory. He dialed the number, I picked up the extension, covered the speaker portion and waited. Even then I was nervous. It’s how you feel when there is an awkward moment ahead. He got through to the main switchboard, asked for the President’s assistant and asked the switchboard for that person’s name. He got in and got through. “Hi Rita, he said, this is Jack Klein, I’d like to talk to Jim”. “Who is this,” she said. “Does he know you?” Jack said in a stern, but friendly, voice, “Yes, it’s personal business” he said, “Just tell him it is Jack, he should remember”. While it was only seconds, it did feel like an eternity and I was about to crawl under the desk even though I did not make that phone call. Sure, enough the President picked up. Jack went into his “speech” and was interrupted by the President saying, “My secretary told me this was a personal call”. “No,” Jack said, “I’m sorry, I said it was a personnel matter and I didn’t want to tell her too much because the candidate I have for you comes from an important company and I pledged to keep his name confidential as he is, by far, the most qualified person I have met in 10 years for a future 500 CFO position.” He got it in. He pitched the candidate, despite irritating the President. “I’m sorry,” said Jack. “Perhaps I should speak to your senior VP of human resources”. “That’s what you should do,” the President said. “And who is that,” asked Jack. He got the name and said, “Sorry to have bothered you”. Jack winked at me, immediately dialed the number again, asked for the VP by name, got the secretary, told her he was calling at the suggestion of the big boss. He got through, made the pitch and got the candidate an appointment, despite there being no appropriate job opening.

Jack told me that, no matter how the call was going, you can always hang up. He said the contact on the other side does not know you or see you. You can call in your underwear. The phone is between you and is both an offensive and defensive weapon.

Unless you are one of the few, emails have lost effectiveness, texts are unanswered, and newer media portals are clogged. The phone is there. The phone is more powerful than ever. Be aware of what the caller ID on your phone will say. Use a personal line as it has a greater chance of being picked up. Call before 9:00 and after 5:00. The gatekeepers may not be at work. Grow “a pair”, as you can always hang up, however, you need a short and sweet story to tell. This goes for a senior level person you are trying to reach. It will not work if you want to make a broad approach. You need a laser like concept to gain interest, but the phone will open a good percentage of opportunities.

Joel D. Schaffer, MAS is CEO and Founder of Soundline, LLC, the pioneering supplier to the promotional products industry of audio products. Joel has 48 years of promotional product industry experience and proudly heralds “I was a distributor.” He has been on the advisory panel of the business and marketing department of St. John’s University in New York and is frequent speaker at Rutgers Graduate School of Business. He is an industry Advocate and has appeared before the American Bankers Association, American Marketing Association, National Premium Sales Executives, American Booksellers Association and several other major groups. He has been a management consultant to organizations such as The College Board and helped many suppliers enter this industry. He is a frequent contributor to PPB and Counselor magazines. He has facilitated over 200 classes sharing his industry knowledge nationwide. He is known for his cutting humor and enthusiasm in presenting provocative and motivating programs. He is the only person to have received both the Marvin Spike Industry Lifetime Achievement Award (2002) and PPAI’s Distinguished Service Award (2011). He is a past director of PPAI and has chaired several PPAI committees and task forces. He is a past Chair of the SAAGNY Foundation, Past President of SAAGNY and a SAAGNY Hall of Fame member. He was cited by ASI as one of the 50 most influential people in the industry.

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