The Gatekeeper is Your Sales FatekeeperFriday, October 4, 2013 11:35
Life is hard and so is a sale. As if you didn’t have enough problems and difficulties already, it seems like every time you take a step forward, you’re pushed two more back. Due to the gatekeeper you may not even get as far as a single step. The gatekeeper or the “fatekeeper”, as I like to refer to them, basically hold your sales’ fate when they first pick up the phone. It’s great if you are prepared to win over your prospect. However, you may be cut off at the legs by the gatekeeper before you even reach them.
What is the Gatekeeper?
The gatekeeper is the average person just like you and me. They are most likely the voice you will hear when calling into a company for the very first time. Gatekeepers are the “yay” or “nay” sayers of who are allowed past them to speak to others in the company (you know, the cool people). Gatekeepers are like the bouncer at a high-end club. They’ve heard every type of excuse in the world, but without your name on a list it’s unlikely you’re getting in (sadly you can’t really bribe them like you would a bouncer either). Part of their job description is to screen people exactly like you. You are to them, as the underage kid is to the doorman. Sure, you have a fake ID but if you don’t appear confident and act like you belong there, it’s back to sweaty basement parties that get busted at 10 pm.
How Does This Affect Me?
HUGELY. If you can’t get past the gatekeeper, what’s the point of calling? Very rarely does the manager or superior of a company answer the main company phone. As you could imagine not much would get done that way. It is your job however to find your way to them. Most of the time, you will rarely speak to who you were looking for the very first time. Do not leave a message with the gatekeeper; always leave a message on your contact’s voicemail. It’s the same as that girl or guy who says “No, no I’ll call you” even though he/she never took down your number. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s just their polite way of saying “get away from me now, I want nothing to do with you.”
You NEED to WOO the Gatekeeper
This is the person who is responsible for how far your call goes. Be polite. If you want them to do something for you, killing them with kindness is a must. Be confident, turn your “swag” on as the kids say. Act as if you are meant to be calling (besides for your own benefit), like your prospect was expecting your call. Have a sense of purpose and be convincing. Avoid using a script or reading off of something, you just sound dull and uninteresting. According to Virtual Sales, gatekeepers can almost always sniff out a scripted plan by the tone of your voice. Ask for help. Everyone wants to feel like a super hero. In real life, the situations are much different than that of a comic book or movie, however, the feeling is still the same. Sure they won’t be helping you stop a nuke from destroying New York City but making the gatekeeper feel like they helped make your day easier will give them the same satisfaction…OK maybe not the “same satisfaction” but you get the point. Sympathize with them, realize the person you may be trying to contact is very busy. BE UNDERSTANDING. Getting angry and upset with the gatekeeper will only make them hang up on you. Don’t pretend you are more important than them because you are not, especially at that moment. The gatekeeper is the most important person at the beginning of the call even though they don’t know it. Treat them like it. Very rarely do gatekeepers deal with “pleasant sales calls”. Be their first. Identify with them that you both have a job to do and it would be truly appreciated if he or she could aid in helping yours.
“Hi, could I speak with Bill?”
Use a first name basis to fool the gatekeeper into thinking it is a personal call.
“I’m looking for the director of “x” is he/she in?”
This will make it seem as though it is not a sales matter but something else that requires authority.
“I’m sorry I realize they must be busy, could you just forward me to their voicemail if that would be easier?”
This allows for you to both still be polite to the gatekeeper and slide into first contact with your prospect.
The first time you try to get past the gatekeeper, it is very unlikely if and when they find out you are trying to sell something, that you get any further. It’s a hit and miss process, even if you do everything right you can still fail. Try to empathize with them. Freelanceswitch suggests that when attempting to get past the gatekeeper, acknowledge the fact that you may be bothering them and politely let them know that if they were to put you through you would be out of their hair. Don’t be the sleazy person who lies to the gatekeeper about who you are. Calling and saying it’s a “family emergency” may get you through but it’s obviously in poor taste. Be honest, but don’t give them everything. Explain to them that you are who you are and how you believe speaking to “X” they can be a help to both parties. Understand their ambiguity but always be reassuring and confident when speaking to them. Don’t feel awkward, it will carry over into your speaking voice and is a sure way to hear that earth shattering “click”. For more information on how to avoid being hung up on and continuing the conversation view our SlideShare on “Top 10 Must Haves for Sales Calls” here http://www.slideshare.net/SalesQuest/sales-calls