Selling Into "Fortress America"

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On 9-11, I was doing a consulting project in Florida, when the news of that catastrophe hit us.

Instantly, you could feel the company close the blinds, withdraw, becoming more insular, more self-protective.

Anyone who called that firm and asked, “How late are you open?" was suspect. Why do you want to know? Who are you? Are you watching us, plotting our patterns?

It was never easy getting the basic intelligence that every salesperson needs, but post 9-11, it became even more daunting. Secretaries became sentries. Voice mail perimeters were erected, everywhere.

Although it has been years since that terrible event, the barriers still exist. Is there any hope for the salesperson that needs to gather information before approaching a prospect?

Happily, there is, but we need to follow new rules, taking better measures in communicating that we’re not a threat.

In the old days, we could call and ask, “Who handles the placement of your advertising, there?" and we’d receive a name, right away, and we’d probably be put through. Today, we’re likely to hear a variant of, “Who wants to know?"

So, the key is to volunteer information, before requesting it.

“Hello, this is Gary Goodman, President of What’s the name, again, of the person who handles the placement of your advertising, you know…?"

This says, here I am, you should know me, I deserve to be told, so don’t hassle me. And it does it, in one very economical phrase.

Crafting a better way of getting through screening and voice mail is essential if we want to penetrate Fortress America.

Later articles in this series will show you even more ways of doing it.

Dr. Gary S. Goodman, President of, is a popular keynote speaker, management consultant, and seminar leader and the best-selling author of 12 books, including Reach Out & Sell Someone® and Monitoring, Measuring & Managing Customer Service. A frequent guest on radio and television, worldwide, Gary’s programs are offered by UCLA Extension and by numerous universities, trade associations, and other organizations in the United States and abroad. Gary is headquartered in Glendale, California. He can be reached at (818) 243-7338 or at:


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