4 Tips for Handling Unwanted Phone Calls

by Leilani Haywood


As the gate-keeper to one of the major decision-makers in your company or organization, one of your responsibilities is fielding cold calls from vendors. Here are some tips from fans of IAAP’s Facebook page on how to professionally handle these calls with grace and courtesy.

Screen the call to find out if this is about a contract or service offer.

“They’ll probably not answer this straight out if they’re the type that just wants to ‘speak to the boss,’” says Emily Scully, city clerk at City of South Portland in Portland, Maine. “So then I’d ask what it’s in regards to and if it’s something I could assist with. If I can get out of them that it’s a sales call, I redirect them to the correct department (it’s never the president/CEO), explaining that my supervisor doesn’t directly handle service contracts. I always tried to ask as many questions as I can before transferring, because so many times the person calling doesn’t actually know who they need to speak to, but they do know WHY they’re calling. Occasionally you get a really persistent one. Then I take a message. ”

Route the caller to an email address or another phone number.

“Being in IT, we get this a lot,” says Diana Wetmore, information technology coordinator at Keuka College in Keuka, New York. “We’ve had them go so far as to schedule appointments through the email address. The SOP is to tell them we are not interested at this point, the budget is all set for the year, and if they have something to share with us, they can send it in writing in the mail or to our email address. My executive has had to get a second phone number at her desk that she only gives to the people she wants to talk to.”

Sherry Morris-Anderson, executive virtual assistant with her own company, Administrative Maven in Nassau Bahamas, says she has vendors send a proposal to the company email address. Her supervisor is copied on the email sent to that email address.

Offer the option of sending you a proposal for their services. 

“The best way to filter is to say that company policy doesn’t allow you to give the name,” says Danay Ramirez, technical manager at CBRE in Barcelona, Spain. “I tell them that we are covered with that service and we have a contract for the next X years but if they send me a presentation and proposal I will forward it to the boss. After that I am the one they call constantly, not the boss. For me it’s the best way to filter these calls but at the same time receiving the proposal/presentation from the vendor and keeping the email archived in case we need to revert to it.”

Tell the vendor your supervisor isn’t available and take a message.

“I tell them they are unavailable and ask for their info,” says Vanessa Theresa, an executive assistant in the healthcare industry in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “Then I tell them that if we are interested we will have the appropriate parties contact them. End of convo.”

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