You’re ready for the first call of the day. Coffee is hot, talking points are down pat, and you’re ready to close some deals. You click dial, the phone rings, and someone picks up. Then, wham!
“I’m sorry, is your call expected?”
Gatekeepers are often considered the brick walls of the sales process. But thankfully there are ways to work with them, get past them, and get to your decision maker. Here are 5 strategies to get you on your way.
It may surprise you that “gatekeeper” is not this person’s job title. Those that salespeople consider gatekeepers are most often just administrative professionals doing their job. You won’t ever get on the gatekeeper’s good side if you’re forever picturing them as the bridge troll spouting riddles that won’t let you cross.
Steli Efti of Close.io narrows it down to this: “don’t treat executive assistants, office administrators, and interns like nuisances.” That includes tossing the popular assumption that gatekeepers don’t understand the sales process. Office staff members are often knowledgeable in almost all parts of the process because of the variety of work they have to do.
The first step in proceeding past the gatekeeper is remembering they are human, and that their role is an integral part of the business process.
This tip may sound a bit too simple, but its surprising what you can accomplish with the use of some good old “pleases” and “thank yous.”
Even when you’re just giving your name and company, sneak in a please. “Hello, this is Jane Doe from XYZ, may I speak with ____ please?” Even if (and when) calls don’t go your way, being polite keeps your reputation squeaky-clean, so that when you call back with a referral, you’ll more likely get through.
Be Direct: Don’t Pitch
There’s a lot of debate over whether or not to pitch to the gatekeeper, but the truth is that launching into a pitch is intrusive and probably not worth the time.
Pitching to the gatekeeper is another inference that office personnel don’t truly understand the sales process and need to be reminded of the value and purpose of your product. The truth is, the gatekeeper just needs enough information to get you to the next branch of the communications tree.
As an article for Mr.Inside Sales explains, it’s time to “stop trying to hide, trick, or fool the gatekeepers.” Be honest about who you need to reach and why, and cut out all that extra stuff.
Get A Referral
When Max Altschuler of SalesHacker asked several experts about getting past the gatekeeper, almost all of them recommended getting a referral as the best approach.
One referral can go a long way. It not only gives you credibility but provides a starting point of conversation when you do reach the decision maker in question.
Try Other Points of Contact
If all else fails, technology provides countless other avenues for getting in touch with a decision maker, or at least someone higher in the business hierarchy. Connect with them on LinkedIn, or email them directly
If you make another point of contact, it will at the very least increase your likelihood of getting past the gatekeeper, if not just allowing you to bypass them completely.
Mind Your Gatekeepers
The bottom line is, the dreaded gatekeeper is just another human doing their job. There are ways to avoid them and try to skirt around them, but often your best bet is to acknowledge their humanity and communicate empathetically, and perhaps get a referral first. The gatekeepers aren’t out to get you, I promise.