Getting past the Gatekeepers is a combination of chess and psychological warfare. Gatekeepers
aren’t the enemy but life would be easier if you could get past those pesky keepers of the gate. Here are some tricks, strategies, and secrets to get you past the Gatekeepers.
TIP 1: Be The Media
Don’t ask for an appointment, ask for an interview. Send them an email
requesting an interview. You’ll have 50% response rate. Then interview your prospects about them and their business. It works like magic and you actually build a real relationship too.
TIP 2: Address the target individual by their first name.
The long answer:
A large majority of times when you’re cold calling a would-be prospect, you’re screened by the secretary. They can immediately tell if you’re trying to sell their boss something merely from the high volume of daily calls they get.. So differentiate yourself. Do your research. Find the business owners name online off Facebook/LinkedIn or from news and media coverage of the company.. While talking to the gatekeeper, address the owner by his first name. Doing this simple yet effective tip helped me get my foot through the door a heck of a lot more than ever before.
Secretary: Hello, Morgan Services, how may I help you?
You: Morning! how are you?
Secretary: Good, you?
You:Great! I know Dan’s (prospects first name) very busy lately, but does he happen to be free right now?
If the secretary says he isn’t, than say this:
You: Aw alright, well my name is (your first name) I’ll call back again later. Thanks!
Not only did you build a successful rapport by giving off the image that you’re friends with the owner, you’re teaching the gatekeeper to recognize you as someone important that their boss needs to talk to.
TIP 3: As one of the best gatekeepers in the business world!
How would I get past someone like me? I would make sure that I knew who the people were that I wished to speak to, and make up something to get me transferred to their office. Then I would leave a message. That would be tough, because if they don’t know you, they won’t speak with you. Then, you might want to go to the place of business, and just kiss their ass! That would be tough in a secure building, but might work for others! 😉
I was an EA in the finance Industry, and the best Gatekeeper ever! I would get so mad if sales people got past me! Lol!
TIP 4: My Favorite Technique
My favorite technique is to know who my desired point person
is, but say “I’m not sure if this is for ____ or someone else, but I had a few questions about XYZ company’s (fill in specialty or practice here). Could you point me in the right direction?” By coming at it with questions instead of statements you allow for an open conversation and could find a better point person. If they say “talk to me” you better have questions ready, but I’ve found no better tool for navigating cold calls.
As an aside, feel free to bypass the gatekeeper all together and just send an email/call the person saying they were recommended to you as the best point person for the conversation. Gatekeepers should only be dealt with if you actually don’t know who to talk to. I’ve closed over 200 deals with this process and I hope it helps others.
Co-founder of Angel Ed
TIP 5: Set Yourself Apart
As a top performing pharmaceutical sales representative for over ten
years for two Fortune 500 companies. Gatekeepers were a normal part of every sales call I made. My number one tip for getting past gatekeepers is to set yourself apart from every other person trying to gain access. How do you do that? Take genuine interest in them and stay consistent. Show up on the same day, same time every week. As you establish a relationship with the gatekeeper, you will gain access to the office and when everyone else is shut out, you and your products will be only ones the office will hear about! The number one tip I have for getting past gatekeepers is set yourself apart from the competition.
Creator of Authentic Selling and Sales Coach
TIP 6: By Phone, By Email, By FedEx
By phone: Call early, late, or lunch time when the gatekeeper is away. If you are lucky enough to get through, start with asking if he/she has a couple of minutes to talk to you. I hate it when the caller just goes into his/her pitch before I am ready to hear what they want to say. Assume you are interrupting the person you are calling. Be respectful and polite. Be concise and get to the point immediately.
By email: You can usually figure out the naming convention at any company by looking at several employees addresses. Virtually, everyone answers their own emails. The trick is to keep it short and to the point. If you can make your point in the Subject line, so much the better. Questions are good attention getters.
If all else fails, FedEx a letter to the person you want to contact with a return address that looks like a law firm.
There are many steps in the sale. Keep the purpose of the communication to go to the next step only such as a return call or an appointment. Talk about the benefit and why it’s good for the target to invest a little time with you. Be concise and make your point.
Postcards are also good, because everyone reads them before they throw them away. But it does make an impression.
TIP 7: Twitter Gets Me Past The Gatekeepers
IN the marketing world, I’ve found that many well-known people manage
their own Twitter account. I have gotten book endorsements, JV
participants, and more by first building relationships and later
asking for something of mutual benefit.
TIP 8: Give Them Steak!
Give them steak …. Just like a burglar gives it to the guard dogs watching over a house… Only the steak is how can I make the gate keeper look good … To the person I am trying to meet.
The gate keeper is letting people in who add value … Don’t waste time and can help the person they are protecting .. Buy letting in the right person they look good … By letting in the wrong person they look bad …. So talk in there language … Quickly get to the value that impacts the gatekeeper
Paul Bailo, Phd MBA MSW
TIP 9: LinkedIn
“Getting past the gatekeeper takes skill, determination, intuition and a little luck. One of the tools we use is LinkedIn as the first step in that process. Here’s how. LinkedIn is a large database that provides you with key decision makers names, their contact information, past employment and professional interests. All of this information amounts to keys that help unlock the puzzle in getting past the gatekeeper or many times bypassing the gatekeeper all together.
First, I will search LinkedIn with exact keywords that will provide me with direction to decision makers that we would like to talk to. For example, we might type in “e-commerce Dick’s Sporting Goods”. From there, I will choose the contact that is most relevant to our business partnership pitch and send a LinkedIn request to that person. The LinkedIn request must include a personal note, why the connection request is relevant, proposed times to talk and how the partnership request will benefit their day to day. When accepted, a timely note thanking them for accepting their invite will follow.
Second, we will track the corporate phone numbers for each LinkedIn profile or key decision makers, call their corporate office and ask for that specific person found through LinkedIn. In most cases, you can’t get past the gatekeepers unless you have the specific name of someone you are trying to reach. LinkedIn is the solution.”
TIP 10: Be Friendly
Pitch Contents: I run a business that sells to other businesses where gatekeepers are everywhere. By best tip to get past is to get the name of the decision maker from the web or LinkedIn and then just call in as if the decision maker was my best friend or should know who I am. The key is to listen for (or even ask for) the name of the gatekeeper. Use their name when making the request to talk to the decision maker. It goes something like this:
Gatekeeper: “Thank you for calling ABC CO, this is Mary”
Me: “Hi Mary! I’m looking for John.”
This works 50% of the time if I sound comfortable and as if John should know me. If not it goes like this.
Gatekeeper: “May I ask what it’s regarding.”
Me: “I’m just following up with him regarding the info I sent him. ”
Being vague is usually pretty useful here. Usually that’s enough. Sometimes not and it goes like this.
Gatekeeper: “May I ask what it is about?”
Me: “Of course you can Mary! I appreciate you asking. I sent John a note about the marketing offers on his website. He should know what it’s about.”
If we get to this point it’s hit or miss whether I’m going to get John on the line. But the good news is that more often than not I don’t need to get to this point as long as I’m calm, cool, confident an sweet to Mary.
TIP 11: Early Call
Call between 6 to 7:30am. Decision makers typically get to the office earlier than others, and the secretaries usually don’t get in until 7:30AM. This usually gives you direct access to your contact.
TIP 12: Polite & Persistence
My biggest piece of advice is to follow up. Gatekeepers get bombarded by people just like you. It’s not about writing the perfect pitch or practicing the perfect pitch. Generally, gatekeepers give in to persistence if it is presented in a respectful way.
Here are my specific thoughts and advice for your readers…
– Always be perceived that you are in need of the gatekeepers help –
don’t make it a you vs gatekeeper scenario
– Customize your pitch to the gatekeeper and not the decision maker
– Become friends with the gatekeeper through your persistence
TIP 13: Keep It Fun:)
Actually, though I always try to have as much fun as possible when dealing with the gatekeeper (it’s amazing how many doors a little humor can open),my favorite tip for dealing with the gatekeeper is not to deal with the gatekeeper at all. Gatekeepers start on time and leave on time, but top executives and professionals are usually at hard work before and after that.
A phone call just before or just after working hours will often get you through to the person you want, or at the very least to an automated directory that will ring his or her line. And they’re far more likely to answer then than during the day when they’re juggling a thousand different issues.
Barry Maher & Associates
TIP 14: Contact
Find a contact who can pluck your résumé out of the gatekeeper’s hands and put it on the top of the decision maker’s pile. She says you can find a contact in a number of ways, including: tapping your personal network, using LinkedIn, searching directories and annual reports on a company’s website, or calling on your alumni network.
Certified Career Coach
TIP 14: Counter Intuitive
I know this might sound counter intuitive but In my opinion, sales people spend too much time talking to gatekeepers. If you want to get past those pesky door-people then go around them. In fact, start at the top. Try to contact an executive VP or CEO. This might take some time to get through but once you do get in touch with them you can ask them to direct you to the person in charge of their “*fill in the blank *department.” Now you can go to the person who you wanted to talk to and tell them that their boss told you to get in touch.
Cofounder, Noble Creative