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Empowering the Screening SourceThis approach results in success rates of over 80% for obtaining that important first interview, because it empowers the screening source. The traditional approach views the screening source as a potential obstacle, and looks for ways to get around him or her. Given that Senior Executives often take their Executive Assistants with them to a new job or company, the Executive Assistant becomes well versed as to who gets to meet the boss. Empowering the screening source involves four steps. i. Write a one or two short paragraphs stating the objective of the meeting. Include one valid reason why the Senior Executive should wish to meet with you. This is not a form letter; it needs to be tailored to the person you wish to meet. It is not an easy task to write this short letter. You need to put yourself in the position of the Senior Executive, asking: "What's in it for me?" Ensure "what is in it for me?" will positively impact the screening source. Here's what someone in the business of helping companies going global in Asia, might say. "I enjoyed reading about your company in yesterday's Chronicle and note that you are planning to expand your operations into Asia. We are in the business of assisting companies in increasing their revenues particularly into global markets. A number off clients will attest to how we have assisted them. I would appreciate a half-hour meeting with you to learn more about your expansion plans. At the end of this meeting, I'll have more insight into whether we can be of value to you. You will then know if you would like to continue discussions". ii. Determine the name of the screening source and the Senior Executive prior to your phone call. Techniques for doing this were discussed in the traditional approach. iii. Phone the Senior Executive for the appointment, knowing there is a 90%+ chance that the Executive Assistant will answer the phone. You are going to say something like this: "Mr. Brown, this is Tony Smith of the ABC Company. How are you today?"
"Just fine, and feel free to call me Ron." "Ron, I would appreciate having a half hour appointment with Ms. Green. May I send you a very short letter outlining the purpose of the meeting?"
"Sure go ahead and send it Tony."
"Do you mind if I send it by e-mail?" When he agrees, ask if it can be sent as an attachment to the e-mail, as many people will not open unknown attachments, and a formatted word document looks more professional when printed and presented to the Senior Executive.
You would then say:
"Ron, after you've read the attachment, if you think that Ms. Green would benefit from this meeting, do you mind setting up an appointment?" This is the empowering statement; you're assigning the decision to the screening source. iv. Call the Executive Assistant the next day to confirm that he received the e-mail and could open the attachment. By letting the Executive Assistant make the decision to schedule the meeting, you have empowered the screening source. One of the following four scenarios will likely occur:
· The Senior Executive will agree to meet with you.
· The Senior Executive does not want to meet with you (unlikely if you've written a compelling letter).
· The Executive Assistant will make the decision and get back to you with the time and date for the meeting (not as rare as you may think).
· The Executive Assistant will screen you out (rarely in my experience if you use this approach). In addition to mailing a thank you letter to the Senior Executive, also e-mail a separate thank you note to the Executive Assistant after the interview. On your first phone call to the Senior Executive, designed solely to request an appointment, the Executive Assistant is likely to ask: "What is the purpose of this meeting?" By giving the screening source the opportunity to ask this question, you risk not knowing the direction the questioning will go and what answers will be acceptable to win the appointment. Your success rate will be much higher if you are able to pre-empt this questioning, and obtain agreement to e-mail a short letter articulating the purpose of the appointment. The only difference between this and the traditional approach is the way in which the reason behind the meeting is communicated. In this approach, the reason is given in a well thought out document, whereas in the traditional approach, the reason is given on the phone. If the Senior Executive answers the phone, however, opt for the traditional approach.