Getting ahold of your intended prospect can sometimes be a challenge. Occasionally there is a gatekeeper standing in your way. This is generally an associate or assistant that sits between you and the person you are trying to connect with. Often times gatekeepers are more prevalent in large businesses than small ones where the owner is generally present.
A sales person feels armed with their thought out pitch and well-identified contact list, but the gatekeepers could be keeping you from ever getting in contact with the decision maker. The gatekeepers job is to make sure the calls going through to individuals are appropriate. Since decision makers are busy, the gatekeeper can often be cautious to which calls go through. As you work to get ahold of your intended prospect, don’t look at the gatekeeper as a roadblock, but instead as a tool to use at your advantage.
Here are five tips to help you navigate your way around the gatekeeper while also gaining valuable information from them.
1. Connect with the gatekeeper
Just as you have researched the decision maker, it’s also important to gather a couple key details about the gatekeeper. With the help of social media platforms like LinkedIn and a company’s website, it only takes a few minutes to learn a few facts about who you are talking to. This will give you instant leverage by connecting with the gatekeeper on a personal level.
Remember, the gatekeeper is a wealth of knowledge, but in order to gain information, you’ll need to build rapport. Since they are the gateway to the decision maker, they are scanning many calls a day. You are going to have to find a way to stand out. Be kind and friendly. This will probably be a change from the usual conversations and in turn, yield better results.
2. Have a Script
Just as you will have a script in hand for the decision maker, also have one documented for the gatekeeper. This should be short and sweet. No more than 30 seconds. It should sound natural and be something you can customize as you go.
There’s nothing worse than sounding like you are reading off of a piece of paper. A gatekeeper will be able to spot a rehearsed script from a mile away, but you’ll still want to have your message planned out to keep you on track. Many times sales reps can get caught up on the details and deliver more information than needed off the bat. Remember, the purpose of this call is only to get you through to the decision maker.
3. Know who you are asking for
When calling the gatekeeper, know who you are asking for. The best way to do this is by sounding like you’ve been there before. By doing so, though, don’t lie. Even if it gets you past the gatekeeper, it’s going to start the entire conversation on a bad note.
Continue to use the gatekeeper as tool. The person you originally thought was the best to get in contact with, might actually not be. There could be someone else within the company who would be better suited for your presentation. The gatekeeper will be able to guide you in the right direction if you work the conversation to your advantage. You could start with a discovery question such as, “If (blank) isn’t available, is there anyone else I could get in contact with that is in charge of (blank)?”
Then if that doesn’t get you anywhere, you could try asking a couple of your qualifying questions such as:What’s the purchase approval process like?
How have decisions like this been made previously?
Who else is involved in this process?
They may not know the answers to these questions depending on who the gatekeeper is, but it could help guide you in the right direction if you were at a standstill.
4. Save your presentation/pitch
Save your pitch for the actual person you are trying to get a hold of – not the gatekeeper. Remember, the gatekeeper does not usually have buying power or the ability to say yes. Don’t waste their time and yours by diving into unnecessary details about your product or service. Instead your goal is to schedule a follow-up call or appointment to talk to the decision maker.
Again, the gatekeeper works closely with those that hold the power to make decisions. Use them to your advantage. Ask questions and start conversations that lead you to find out more information such as an email address, your prospect’s schedule or a better time to call.
5. Be genuine
The most important thing to remember when it comes to the gatekeeper is they should be looked at as an ally. Don’t dismiss them, but instead treat them with respect. This will give you the best chance of getting through to the decision maker.
Don’t forget, the gatekeeper holds an immense amount of power when it comes to who gets through to the decision maker and who doesn’t. Trying to intimidate them or diminish their worth will only earn you a negative reputation within that company. Appreciate their role within the company and they’ll show consideration to your needs in return.
To learn our top tips to construct your script, target your message, refine delivery and evaluate success, download our New Year, New Pitch whitepaper!