The gatekeeper can be your best friend or your worst enemy; but as the final hurdle before you make it to the decision maker, they’re also your biggest challenge. As a sales professional, you have your arsenal of strategies and tricks to charm, amuse and persuade the gatekeeper but each new call presents a brand new challenge and a new challenge calls for new tactics.
Manners cost nothing
You make countless phone calls a week, whether it’s following up on a previous call or contacting new leads. Minding your manners may seem like an obvious tactic, but sometimes it can all become a bit frustrating when you’re being blocked by the gatekeeper, and you can be tempted to lose your cool.
Manners cost nothing, but not having any could cost you an important opportunity. It’s always important to remain polite and courteous regardless of whether it’s the first call or the sixth. It may be a gatekeeper’s job to keep you away from the decision maker, but they are still human.
Don’t just tell them your name, ask for theirs too, show a bit of compassion, don’t just dismiss them. They’re just as important as the decision maker besides, they have to deal with people like you trying to charm their way past them all day.
Remember who you’re selling to.
A good gatekeeper always asks what the purpose of the call is, and while you may be tempted to reel off your perfectly crafted pitch, you don’t want to give the game away too early. You want to save your pitch for the decision maker. Giving all the information to the gatekeeper means they can tell them themselves.
Sure job done, I guess? At least the decision maker will find out about your product, right? Wrong. The gatekeeper knows more than you think, especially what sales pitches her boss would want to hear. Even if the pitch you gave the gatekeeper makes it through to the boss, there’s no way they’ll deliver it with the grandiose you intended.
While it’s advisable to explain that your product could increase sales by X%, it’s also advisable to remember it’s the decision maker you’re pitching to, everyone else is just an obstacle.
Help the gatekeeper
A gatekeeper’s job is to ensure that the right pitches are picked out of the hundreds of phone calls they get a day, so help them out and ensure that they realise why you stand out from the competition.
If a gatekeeper were to present a cold call to the applicable decision maker and you managed to secure a sale, their boss would consider them an effective gatekeeper.
Go around the gatekeeper
No matter how good you think you are, every salesperson has had their unstoppable force meet an immovable object. So what can you do when a gatekeeper refuses to budge? Well you could give up and try another lead, or you could try a sneakier tactic.
If you can’t get through the gatekeeper, try going around them. Most work from 9-5, but a decision maker’s job requires them to work late, or work on Saturdays. Sometimes calling before 9, after 5 or on a Saturday can help you skip the gatekeeper and get straight to delivering your resounding pitch.
If you fancy yourself as a sales aficionado then try and get past our gatekeeper in this interactive game.
By Steve Groves, Head of Digital Learning, Pareto. He is in charge of producing and implementing the company’s e-learning digital solutions. Steve is also one of Pareto’s long-standing in-house trainers that help to deliver the company’s industry-leading sales training to businesses from all over the UK.