When I tell people I’m a Sales Trainer I’m often asked for my top tip when it comes to cold calling so I thought I’d start with the biggest perceived obstacle and that’s getting past the GateKeeper!
Are you familiar with the term ‘The GateKeeper“?
This the individual whose job it is to prevent people from getting access to the Decision-Maker. From here referred to as DM.
Typically, this is a personal assistant or a secretary, but in some companies, it is even the receptionist or switchboard operator.
Here are eight top tips for getting past the GateKeeper.
TIP 1: THE GATEKEEPER IS NOT THE ENEMY
Whoever is acting as the Gatekeeper between you and the Decision-Maker (DM) is just doing their job. Part of that job is managing demands on the DM’s time. Seeing the Gatekeeper as the enemy creates a barrier that it will be difficult to remove.
TIP 2: SOUND SENIOR
Management never gets treated the same as the workers. If someone believes that you are important, they will treat you differently. Using a relaxed and calm voice, speak slowly and articulately and don’t divulge more than is necessary. During the opening seconds of your conversation, if the Gatekeeper senses that you are their senior, they will not risk offending you by probing too deeply.
TIP 3: THE GATEKEEPER IS A WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE
Remember that whilst the Gatekeeper’s role is to restrict interruptions to the DM’s daily routine, they do know a great deal of important information about the DM and the business. Use this opportunity to check that the person that you want to speak to is the decision-maker. Check your facts with them. Ask simple, non-intrusive open questions to try to build up a picture of both the Gatekeeper and the Decision-Maker.
TIP 4: DON’T SELL
The Gatekeeper has several distinct ‘powers’. One of them is the power to connect you with the right person. However, they do not hold any decision-making powers. When the Gatekeeper asks ‘Can I tell him/her what it’s regarding?’ – do not try to pitch your product or service to the Gatekeeper. Firstly, it will waste your time. Second, it will irritate them because they will just be waiting for an opportunity to tell you that they cannot help you. No matter how desperate to connect with the DM you are, do not sell to the Gatekeeper.
TIP 5: ENGAGE DON’T EVADE
Don’t be awkward, don’t try to sneak past them, the chances are you’ll get cut off at the knees. Actively engage with the Gatekeeper. Don’t get too personal, don’t pry, but you can gently probe. If you can’t get through to the DM, engage the Gatekeeper so that they have a positive and friendly attitude towards you when you call again. You’re unlikely to become best friends, but building a relationship and a rapport with them will help them want to help you.
TIP 6: EASY DOES IT
Calm down then go for it! If you are nervous, stressed or tense, you will transfer those feelings to your voice, your behaviour and choice of words. All of these will make an impact on how the Gatekeeper perceives you and therefore how they receive your request for access or information. Take some deep slow quiet breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth to put yourself at ease. When the Gatekeeper answers, smile and confidently greet them with energy and ease.
TIP 7: DON’T SCRIPT, BUT HAVE A PLAN
Unless you are a particularly good actor, don’t use a script. They are likely to hear the scripted tone in your voice. Instead, plan how you will approach them; what approaches you might take depending upon the range of responses that they might make. Plan your responses to key objections but leave yourself room by improvising the dialogue.
TIP 8: IS THE DM EXPECTING YOUR CALL?
In order to bypass the Gatekeeper, use the DM’s first name only. Ask ‘Can I speak to Sarah please?’, it sounds like a personal call. Remember your goal is not to inform the Gatekeeper; your goal is to bypass them to get to the DM. Next, they might ask ‘Is she expecting your call?’. Simply and easily reply ‘Yes, I sent her some information through from our Head Office, we need to discuss it before close of business today’.
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