What is the best way to handle Gatekeepers?
Contrary to what most sales people think, their number one responsibility is not to keep us out! Their number one responsibility is to help their bosses.
On the surface you might think that includes a line in their job description that does say ‘keep sales people out’, but their real job is to help their boss be successful, and in the right circumstances, we can help them do that.Since more people (including us) want more of the bosses’ time than there is time available, good gatekeepers are invaluable in helping their bosses’ sort through what can actually help them do their job better and what won’t or can’t.
So what’s the moral of the story? Help the gatekeeper understand how you can help their boss do their job better. Now, I’m also not naive enough to think that all gatekeepers are created equal, so here are some rules of thumb for working with them:
- Don’t ever lie to or attempt to trick a gatekeeper to get through to their boss. You may get the first meeting set up, but if the gatekeeper and the boss compare notes, you’re toast.
- Is there any way you can position what you sell into a benefit for the gatekeeper? If there is, use it.
- Always ask for voicemail the first and second time and leave your own message. That way it won’t get filtered and restated by the gatekeeper unless absolutely necessary. You never know what people take from what you say. (Remember the kid’s game of telephone?)
- If they refuse to to put you through to voicemail, or if they ask what the call is in reference to while deciding to put you through or not, it’s time to put your selling hat on. Treat them as if they were the boss and use your Opening Approach, Counters and Bridge Questions™ just as you would if you were talking to the boss. In other words, it’s time to convince the gatekeeper that it is worth their bosses’ time to talk to you. You’ll still be at the mercy of how they write up the message, but if you’ve gotten them to agree with the value of your call to their boss, they can at least tell the boss to take your call the next time you call.
- Make their job easier and more pleasant, so get to know them. Be one of the people that light up their day and treat them like a they are the buyer.
- Always make sure to get their name and make a note of it for future calls.
- By the third attempt, you should be on a first name basis so ask for their help instead of asking for voicemail or just leaving another message with the Gatekeeper. Ask them what the best way is to get five minutes of their bosses’ time to set an appointment. They will either tell you how to do that (best time to call, send an email, they’ll set it up for you, etc.); or they’ll tell you you’ll not be getting by them.
- The result is that you’ll know whether they’ll help you with the proper incentive (how you’ve helped others like their boss in the past), or you’ll know to use the ultimate ‘handle the gatekeeper’ rule…call when they’re not there.
If you’d like more information on working with gatekeepers or why no team of sales professionals has ever failed to at least double the number of Initial Appointments they were setting after going through one of our programs, give us a call or drop us a line. We love talking about the challenges of appointment making!
Caponi Performance Group and Contact Science jointly market the telephone prospecting and cold calling solution called Coldcalling101™. It is the only comprehensive solution to solving the biggest barrier to success in most selling organizations—the inability to secure enough Initial Appointments to begin the selling process. We accomplish that through simultaneously addressing both the efficiency and effectiveness of the process. We can be reached at 817 224-9900 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find answers to many of your challenges in our books: Contrary to Popular Belief, Cold Calling DOES Work! Volume I: Effectiveness, The Art of Appointment Making and Volume II: Efficiency, the Science of Appointment Making.
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