One of the hardest things that will keep a salesperson up at night is getting past the gatekeeper and getting in contact with the decision maker. We have all been there, and it is a struggle that is all too familiar in the sales industry. What is the appropriate way to approach the gatekeeper? How can we use their knowledge to learn more about the decision maker? Below are just a few do’s and don’ts on how to leverage your gatekeeper to help you close more sales:
• Always give your full name and your full company name, even if it does not mean anything to them.
• Treat gatekeepers with respect. Their job can be tough too. It can help you gain traction with them if you always stay upbeat. Take the time to establish rapport with each person you contact. Whether or not they are the actual person you wished to speak to, they are individuals — deserving of your courtesy, compassion, and attention.
• If the gatekeeper influences the decision maker in any way, your goal should be to help them look good in their boss’s eyes. Present your offering as a solution that could benefit them, and let them carry the torch for you.
• Recognize the gatekeeper as vital and a wealth of knowledge. Use them to gather the information. Learn more about their decision maker, his/her department, recent trends, and internal machinations within the company, and so on….
• Gather information with every call you make, whether or not you accomplish your primary purpose in calling. Ask appropriate questions and gather pertinent information on the decision maker, his or her schedule, and what else is happening in the department of the company at the time you are calling. You're also interested in insights into the psychological make-up of the person you are calling. For instance, when is the best (and worst) time to call? How do you pronounce your decision maker's name?
• Utilize multiple forms of communication to make contact. You should ask the gatekeeper what the best way is to communicate with the decision maker. Some managers prefer e-mail, others prefer formal letters. Calls alone may or may not result in success. Once you know, play it their way.
• When leaving repeated voice mail messages, list a different benefit you provide or skill you possess during each message, as a way to both qualify and distinguish yourself. Remember to stay positive and be quick to make all your points. No one has time to listen to a novel.
• Be creative, funny, and distinguishable to get consideration. Humor works. Self-effacing humor and humor in solidarity with the gatekeeper can help open doors and build relationships.
• When all else fails, have your gatekeeper call their gatekeeper!
• When you are trying to get past the gatekeeper do not say, “May I please speak with the person who handles the such-and-such?” It is almost always guaranteed to give a negative response. To an administrative professional, this is a call from someone who knows nothing about the company, let alone the name of the person with whom they want to speak with.
• Never call and claim you are someone you’re not, such as a family member or friend. We have even heard of people claiming to be calling from the police, IRS, or FBI. You will never build a successful relationship if it is based on lies.
• Never become short, rude, or sarcastic. It is unprofessional and suggests that you are lacking in maturity and have a lack of flexibility.
• Avoid filling the recipient's voicemail box with long and detailed messages. It is inconsiderate and shows bad judgment on your part. Also, do not leave multiple messages in a single week. The person may be away and does not what to come back to a voicemail filled with messages regarding the same thing.
• Do not make the decision maker wrong for not being there to answer you in person, or for not having responded yet. To you, it may seem like a simple thing to do (returning your call) yet consider the many priorities busy professionals already have on their to-do lists.
• Do not assume you got transferred to the correct voicemail. Make sure you are asking questions. Ask for the department and person that handles the decisions for your product or service.
• Strive to make an impression. Using clichés and following scripts leaves you indistinguishable from the competition. Show some personality and spunk to stand apart from the crowd when you call. The more memorable, the more likely they will call back.
Take a step back to plan out your conversation. Do your research, ask questions, and work on creating a successful relationship with the gatekeeper. When the gatekeeper sees you as a kind, considerate person who genuinely values you, you may find them making your introduction for you. You are not only trying to get past the gatekeeper and to the decision maker, you are gaining knowledge and trust.