Receptionists are a challenge, not a block.

SOAR Selling: How to Get Through to Almost Anyone – the Proven Method for Reaching Decision Makers


The SOAR Selling methodology is changing the prospecting game. Whereas most sales training philosophies focus on what reps do and say after they’ve gained access to those key decision-makers, SOAR Selling deals with the prevailing problem reps face: how to actually reach those decision-makers.

The most common obstacle between your reps and the high influencers they want to talk with? Receptionists.

No problem – there’s a formula for that, thanks to David and Marhnelle Hibbard of Dialexis, creators of the SOAR Selling methodology and authors of the book. And it is proven to work!

As it turns out, gatekeepers are not as interested in the questions they ask as your reps think. Questions like “May I ask who’s calling?” and “What is this regarding?” are the questions they were originally told to ask when they were hired. They probably don’t care what your answer is, as long as it doesn’t sound spammy or unimportant.

The Call

Receptionist: Hello, XYZ Company.

Sales rep: Hi, is John Doe in?

Receptionist: May I ask who’s calling?

Sales rep: This is James Smith.

David and Marhnelle Hibbard call these questions “death questions.” Notice that James didn’t respond with both his name and company name – he just used his name. Most sales reps would have said “This is James Smith from ABC Systems.” But that’s not exactly what the receptionist asked. Don’t offer more information than you are asked for.

Receptionist: Is this about the project he’s working on?

James Smith: Regarding a project? No, this is not regarding a project.

Receptionist: What is it in regards to?

James Smith: Just let him know it’s regarding James Smith.

Receptionist: Okay, one moment.

Death question #2: “What is this regarding?” A lot of gatekeepers are taught to ask some version of this question. But remember, they probably don’t care about the answer unless it sets off any red flags. There is a canned response you should use to answer this question every single time, and it is: “Just let him/her know it’s regarding [your own name].”

You might be surprised that this would work, but it does, pretty much all the time. The trick is finding keywords in the language the gatekeeper uses – in this case, the keyword is “regarding” – and using it in the response.

Instead of connecting you right away, the receptionist might follow up with:

Receptionist: And he’ll know who James Smith is?

James Smith: I’m sure if you mention James Smith, it’ll be fine.

This will almost always put your rep through because you adequately answered the receptionist’s question.

Don’t make any assumptions about what the gatekeeper says. Questioning a keyword can change the results dramatically on any sales call. If the receptionist says they aren’t available, it doesn’t mean they aren’t available. Most sales reps would hang up and call back later. Instead, clarify “available.”

You can find over 10 more responses to receptionists’ statements in the “SOAR Selling” book.

“Ride the bull”

Stay on the call until you make contact with a high influencer. This insistence is called “Riding the Bull.” If you can’t connect with the target decision-maker, you should attempt 3 more times to connect with other high influencers at the company who can help you figure out how to reach the decision-maker.

Experiment with the SOAR Selling methodology with your sales team, and see if they make fewer net new dials while making a higher percentage of contacts & appointments.

Have you tried implementing SOAR Selling with your team? We’d love to hear!


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