Get Past the Gatekeeper to Make More Sales
Guest Post by Nick Kane – a Managing Partner at Janek Performance Group. He has trained more than 15,000 sales professionals worldwide during the course of his career, and is passionate about helping sales professional improve their selling careers – and as a result, their lives as well. Nick has co-authored a book called Critical Selling: How Top Performers Accelerate the Sales Process and Close More Deals which was released by Wiley Publishing in October, 2015. In this post Nick focuses on the classic challenge of getting past the gatekeeper.
Let’s face it: Most sales professionals hate dealing with gatekeepers. The reason is obvious – receptionists, administrative assistants or switchboard operators have a few distinct powers and can play a pivotal role in the early stages of the sales process. The right prospecting techniques are critical in to get to your decision makers.
Here are 5 tips we have identified through our research that will keep a telesales professional in the driver’s seat and help you turn your efforts with Gatekeepers into positive outcomes.
Don’t try to sneak past the gatekeeper
Don’t try to manipulate the gatekeeper or use questionable tactics to get around her/him. This strategy may backfire and put you in an awkward situation…or maybe even cut off your chances of getting through to the person in charge. Actively engage with the gatekeeper, so that they have a positive attitude towards you when you call again.
Make it sound like a personal call
In most companies, assistants or receptionists do NOT get a lot of recognition. So, don’t regard them as faceless obstacles that have to be overcome at all costs. Treat them with respect, dignity and compassion. If you show them the appreciation they deserve, the payoff will be huge. Always keep in mind that they are people with their own personality and unique attributes who have a challenging job to do. You may want to get the name of the assistant and even try to enlist her/him aid when connecting with the person you need. In fact, when you ask someone for help, they feel important. For most people it is not easy to decline the request for help. So, use it to your advantage and pave your way to the decision-maker’s office.
Speak with authority
One thing is for sure: Every caller sounds pretty much the same. Therefore, you need to come across as a VIP who does not have a lot of time. The assistant is used to taking instructions from others. If you sound important, speak with authority, and project a great deal of self-confidence and assurance, she may be more likely to put you through. Any trace of uncertainty in your attitude will damage your credibility and diminish your chances of sales success.
Never sell to the gatekeeper
When you are on the phone with a receptionist, there is no need to divulge more than necessary or go into a presentation. Why? Simply because you may involuntarily turn her into a decision-maker and end up losing the game. She will either tell you that they are not interested, forward you to someone else or promise to pass the message on.
Learn from the gatekeeper
The fact of the matter is, assistants can be crucial to your information gathering mission. Learn more about the receptionist, her department, recent trends, or some of the major issues the company is facing. We suggest you gather vital information with every call you make. Ask simple and non-intrusive questions or get as much information as you can about the decision-maker, her schedule, etc. You may even gain some insights into the psychological make-up of the person you are trying to reach.
One thing is for sure – the gatekeeper is NOT your enemy. Seeing the assistant as your biggest adversary will invariably create a psychological barrier that will be difficult, if not impossible, to remove. It is always better to engage the gatekeepers as peers who are doing a great job. As a result, they may guide you to make the best impact. Always keep that in mind when you start dialing the phone.