It’s Jan 2021 and most business are looking to try stay afloat or trying to grow their client base.
Today I would like to talk about the dreaded gatekeeper. Life would be easier for marketing and sales people if it were not for the dreaded gatekeeper or at least how they perceive the gatekeeper. All they want is one appointment or one opportunity to make a pitch to the boss.
For many, running into gatekeepers every day can be a very frustrating experience. No one likes being rejected or hearing a no we are not interested. But fortunately, there are some ways to get past the gatekeeper and get to the decision maker.
Who Is The Gatekeeper?
Frist who/what is the gatekeeper. The gatekeeper’s role is to screen every person who wants to communicate directly with the decision- maker of the company. Many in marketing and sales will try to get in touch with the decision maker through various channels. It could be via email, phone call, or personal visit.
Thus, the gatekeeper is the person who frequently communicates with the decision- maker. Usually, it is the receptionist, PA (Personal Assistant) or EA (Executive Assistant).
He/she knows the schedule of the decision- maker. If it is the secretary or PA, most likely he/she prepared the decision maker’s calendar for the week. Calls and requests for an appointment outside the scope of the week’s agenda are almost always denied.
The gatekeeper is not a bad person, they are just doing their job. The gatekeeper can be very good at their job to the point that many view them as unreasonable. But it’s more than likely, the instructions came from the boss.
Once you understand that this is all part of the job description, it will be easier to get past the gatekeeper.
How To Get Past The Gatekeeper
The gatekeeper is not some troll guarding the bridge to the kingdom. The gatekeeper is a normal person and motivated by emotions.
Getting past the gatekeeper is a negotiation process. when dealing with gatekeepers you should not view negotiation as a battle.
Your mindset should be to bring the gatekeeper to your side. Get the gatekeeper to work with you instead of against you. They should be your partner, not your enemy.
To clarify the gatekeeper for most big decision maker’s is the receptionist, PA (Personal Assistant) or EA (Executive Assistant). For smaller companies this would not be the case. Conduct some research
So, How can you make this happen?
Heres some suggestions
Respect The Gatekeeper
The gatekeeper is a paid employee whose job includes managing the decision- maker’s schedule. It’s all about ensuring productivity of their boss whose decisions make or brake a company. Wouldn’t you do the same thing if you were hired to be the gatekeeper.
Therefore, gatekeepers should be respected. Your approach will initiate conflict instead of resolution, If you see the gatekeeper as the enemy. Yes they can be the person in the way on you getting your message to the decision-maker but no one can help that.
Research Is Key
Before you try to get past the gatekeeper, you must find out if the person you are working to get an appointment with is the decision-maker that can actually make that decision a lot of companies have lots of different decision-maker. Your efforts will be wasted if you haven’t done the right research.
You should also do research if the company has the need for the products or services. Find what the company’s pain points are and can your products or services offer an immediate solution.
If you do get past the gatekeeper but the decision-maker sees no value in your pitch, it may put you in a bad light and set you back, maybe even get you put in the blocklist or spam folder.
Keep in mind that business-owners, top- level executives themselves do not like wasting time and if your the one wasting there time they will not like you.
No Pitching To The Gatekeeper
Never sell over the phone or on first contact. The purpose of the first contact is to get an appointment. If you try to pitch in the first contact, you will weaken your position and rarely sell a product or service. This rule should be respected especially when dealing with gatekeepers.
You should only pitch to the decision-maker and not on the first contact. Gatekeepers are not the decision-makers.
If they ask you, “ May I know what this is about?”, just do not give in. Whatever you tell them will be used as reasons not to give you an appointment.
Lets use an example
In this example your selling insurance for employees retirement:
Gatekeeper: “May I know what this is about?”
You: “We offer a wide range of insurance products. One of our specialties is retirement. We reviewed your current employee retirement plan and believe we can help you make it better”
Gatekeeper: “We’ve used the same package for a long time now. Our employees love it. My boss is happy with the current insurer.
As the conversation wears on, your chances of getting a meeting become smaller. You can try to continue and push for your product, but you will just end up getting the Gatekeeper frustrated and running in circles with a call they and you will be hoping ends soon. Eventually, the gatekeeper will just shut you down.
Make Your Approach More Human
Two of the biggest mistakes sales and marketing people make is to view the gatekeeper as a “glorified secretary’ who only takes messages and transfers phone calls and sounding like they are a salesman trying to sale something.
Remember The First Tip I Gave You Respect the Gatekeeper. In addition, engage them and work to develop a trusting relationship. If they don’t trust you they will not put you through to their boss. But how do you build trust?
The first thing you should do is get the gatekeeper’s name. The best approach is to find out the gatekeeper’s name before you make the call:
Lets use another example
You: “Good morning, Jan. I’m John calling for Proact Insurance. May I know if Mr. Brown will be available to take my call this morning?”
Chances are, the gatekeeper will be taken back that you know her name and think that you have a reason to speak with the gatekeeper.
If Jan answers in a bad or negative way, instead of becoming insistent and starting to look rude, try to find a way to get her assistance. Now I am not saying flirt with her try something just to the point and professional.
You: “That’s unfortunate. May I know the best time to call Mr. Brown?”
Whether Jan is cooperative or not, be nice and professional. The objective of the first call should be to build a relationship with the gatekeeper not to ruin it.
If Jan says, “I don’t think Mr. Brown will be available to take your call this week”
Try responding with something like:
You: “Okay, anyway thank you for your time, Jan I’ll try to call back next week. Have a great day!”
Respecting her instruction, ending the conversation on a positive note, and using her name all contribute to building a trusting relationship with the gatekeeper. The next time you call, she may be more accommodating.
Don’t Ever Use A Scripts
Marketers like to use scripts to make sure they say the right thing to get a sale and don’t say anything wrong or silly. However, they never work because they come across as mechanical.
Again remember our previous tip I Gave You: Humanize Your Approach. Gatekeepers are humans. Talk to them like one by engaging in a conversation, just not a fake one.
The main problems with using scripts on the phone or via email is:
- Scripts sound contrived; they do not make the you sound sincere or genuine.
- Scripts do not encourage feedback.
- They are not human sounding they sound like a sales pitch
- Using scripts is counter-intuitive and automated. Engaging with a gatekeeper is just basic communication.
By all means make a bullet pointed list of things to say or main benefits but don’t read or write a script.
Change your perspective about the gatekeeper.
Gatekeepers are just like you. They are paid to do a job with a set of responsibilities.
One of those duties includes ensuring their boss remains productive and docent have his time wasted.
You will have to change your approach and focus on how to work with rather than against the gatekeeper. This means you have to come across as a professional.
You must do research before the call to find out how your product offering can potentially help solve the company’s current pain points.
Talk to the gatekeeper as you would with another colleague. Refer to the gatekeeper their first name. Get ride of your sale pitch scripts. Work toward having a conversation.
Thats all for today until next time this has been Jack Thomson