Just when you thought the worst part of sales was finding new prospects, you remember that gatekeepers exist.
That obstructing receptionist or assistant who has been trained to deflect your pestering sales pitch from reaching their boss. Some will hear you out, others will ‘take a message’, and then there are those unswaying few who won’t hesitate to rebuff you. Rudely.
However, there are specific tactics you can hide up your sleeve to keep an unsuspecting gatekeeper on the call, and even turn them into a personal advocate. So before you pick up the phone to call your next prospect, read these proven ways to unlocking the gatekeeper door and getting your sales opportunities off the ground.
Treat them like gold
‘I have people call me all day and you are the first one I’ve allowed to come in to show me your product—because you were so nice to my secretary’.
That’s what one high-level sales prospect told EksAyn Anderson, an expert on getting past gatekeepers. After that, Anderson quickly learnt that being friendly to the gatekeeper can make a significant difference in sales success.
Here are a few tips to get on the gatekeeper’s good side:
- Use a warm and friendly throughout the call.
- Add in a light joke or two. Studies show that humour increases likeability and attention.
- Avoid using a sales script. A scripted tone will only get you the dial tone.
- Always thank them and let them know how much you appreciate their assistance.
Bottom line is: being rude to the gatekeeper is a death sentence. Treat them like a person, not an obstacle, and you may earn yourself a red carpet to the decision-maker.
Be ‘surprisingly’ honest
Which statement would keep you on the line if you were a gatekeeper:
- I have a 100% guaranteed, money-saving solution for companies like yours! If you can just patch me through to your superior then we can start talking.
- I’m not sure my product is 100% right for you, but maybe you can help me determine if we’re a good fit.
Probably the second one, right? Honesty is disarming, especially in sales. Most gatekeepers can sniff a salesperson from their ‘hello’, so trying to sneak past them or releasing your inner Wolf of Wall Street with aggressive sales tactics will most likely get you nowhere.
In fact, Jordan Belfort, the actual Wolf of Wall Street said in an interview with Personal Finance,
‘Applying high-pressure tactics, overcoming objections, or selling people 10 times what they need just to get a huge commission […] frankly, sales is more powerful without all that stuff.’
In the same interview, he also notes that it’s important to remember you’re not just selling your offering, you’re selling yourself. So be human, open and honest, and watch how the gatekeeper keeps you on the call.
Don’t pitch your way up
This one can go in a few directions: 1) Don’t pitch to the gatekeeper, 2) Aim to pitch to the highest decision-maker, not to the people below; 3) Don’t. Pitch. To. The. Gatekeeper.
The last thing you need is an assistant giving a lame recount of your fine-tuned pitch to their senior. You only want to give the gatekeeper enough information to arouse interest and motivate a follow-up. Talk about what you achieved for their competitor, mention a referral, ask for advice – just don’t pitch your offering to them.
As for not pitching your way up, Anderson the gatekeeper expert found that mid-level managers were always dismissive and rude, but if he called the highest-level manager then had them refer them to someone lower down, that person would listen more carefully ‘because the boss told them to’.
So work your pitch downwards, not upwards.
Know your ‘enemy’
Building a relationship with the gatekeeper gives you a much better shot at getting noticed. They know the decision-maker better than you do, so you’d be surprised at how much valuable insight they can give you to help your sales approach. (If they like you, that is.)
This is where technology can give you an advantage. From tools that reveal the most effective way to communicate with someone to platforms that dig up their social channels and contact details, the secrets to unlocking the gatekeeper door is at your fingertips.
Once such platform is Triggr, an automated sales prospecting tool that helps you identify the companies and contact details you need to get the right conversations started. You’ll also get their social media profiles which are filled with clues on the most effective approach you can take. (This is information you can apply to both the gatekeeper and the decision-maker.)
When you have all the right information, you can start plugging it into your conversations. Address the gatekeeper by their name during the call and leverage what you found on their profiles to ask for advice based on their experience. A little insight can make all the difference when you’re the 17th salesperson calling that day.
If you really want to find fresh prospects and get to know them before you pitch, sign up for your free plan and use Triggr to elevate your next sales call.