How to get past the gatekeeper
Gatekeepers are people who are paid to keep people like us away. Many a times, I find it so frustrating when they ask me what this is all about. But I also understood that that is part of their job.
There are two types of gatekeepers 1) Telephone Operator 2) Secretary of your prospect. While the telephone operator may not be a big factor in large companies , they just pass on the phone based on the names but the secretary will be a bit of an inquisite person. While we always want to speak with the senior most person in the company, the gatekeeper may not necessarily live your dreams and let you be happy. They want to know why you want to talk to the person you announced that you would want to speak with.
In fact, I have not taken them to be my foe but have figured out a few ways to get through to them. They are as follows
- Use email as a way to reach out to the prospects , fix meetings over emails and call at a scheduled time or get the direct numbers and speak directly
- Use Linkedin to connect with the prospect, send an InMail and schedule a meeting to talk at a specific time.
- Reach out when they would not be there at their desk: Gatekeepers have homes, they have their lunch times, they enter office and leave office on time. So, try reaching your prospect between 8:45 AM to 9:15 AM, 1:15 PM to 1:45 PM, 5:00 PM plus. There is a chance that a stand by gatekeeper will be there who will be a bit more helpful than the main one or the chances that you reach out to the prospect if the company has a Dial by Name Directory
- Punch in a random extension number if there is a Dial by Name Directory. A helpful employee may pick up the phone and can give you the direct number or may be able to pass you on.
- Use a slightly complicated pitch : when asked why you would like to speak with the prospect, say soemthing like “I woud like to ideate with John about the possibility of increase the sales of your company using a new methodology like how a few other companies in your industry has” instead of “ I would like to speak with John about my CRM product and show him a demonstration”
- Use a slightly senior and a loud but slowly paced voice. Use a senior voice and say “ John Smith please”, if asked who this is “This is ABC from XYZ”. Sometimes, this has worked as the gatekeeper may perceive that this is someone who John knows as you are using the first name in an informal way. Get to now the name and never use the title. Any gatekeeper understands that if you ask, can I speak with the CIO or CFO, they know that this is a sales call. Linkedin is there for you to find out the names and the titles and hence it is easy for you to target a person and use the names when you ask to speak to someone.
- Never hesitate and sound diffident. When asked why you would like to speak, just rantle what you would want to talk like a rocket getting launched. Any type of hesitation will immediately convey the fact that you are a sales person
- Last: they are not an enemy of yours and they are just doing a job. Be nice to them and ask them for help if they tell you that you cannot speak and politely request them to help you in identifying who else you can speak with for this purpose. Many a times, this has helped me in locating the actual person as the secretaries have lot more context about who handles what responsibilities within the companies and will help you speak with the right person before this goes to the bosses attention.