Many times today you’re faced with a challenge of even getting to talk to the person you’re trying to sell. In fact the process usually goes something like this:
1) Reach the gatekeeper
2) Find a way past, around or through the gatekeeper
3) Leaving a message for the decision maker
4) Leaving another message for the decision maker
5) Asking the gatekeeper’s advise for reaching the decision maker
(Well, you know the drill)
Let me let you in on a little secret. I love gatekeepers. I absolutely adore them and I’m dead serious. Do you know why? They keep competitors away from MY customers and keep other salespeople (who give up too easily or don’t have the proper skills) from reaching the decision maker’s I’m trying to sell.
Once you start to think of it that way, you see these people in a bit of a different light, don’t you? Not so bad, are they? If you have the right skills and know how to handle them, they actually perform a very useful service.
So, let’s go through some strategies and tips on how to make them your friend and ally and allow you to reach more decision makers!
First, I’m going to assume you know who the buyer is at the company you are calling on. If not, the gatekeeper is NOT the person to ask. The red flag goes WAY up when you have to call them to find out. You should use the internet, networking, or any number of other methods to learn the NAME of the person you are trying to reach prior to calling. Furthermore, do not call and ask for “who handles the buying”. Big no-no.
OK, for the sake of discussion, let’s say we are going to call and try to reach Bob Smith to “get on his calendar” so we can “stop by and visit” with him, right? Here’s how we handle it:
When the gatekeeper picks up, your voice inflection should suggest that you are calling an old friend or family member. Be relaxed and low key!
“Who’s speaking?” you ask.
If they say, “Who are you trying to reach?” I simply say this: “It’s Butch I was calling for Bob.” Notice I didn’t say Bob Smith or Mr. Smith, etc. I’m treating this like I’m calling an old friend that I’ve called a hundred times.
However, nine times out of ten the gatekeeper will answer your initial question with, “This is Sherry” to which you reply (again, very naturally) “Oh, hey Sherry its Butch, is Bob around?” Now, several things happen here:
1) Sherry thinks she is supposed to recognize my voice (trust me)
2) I didn’t ask to speak to Bob or if Mr. Smith was in or anything very formal—I simply asked if Bob was around.
3) Sherry assumes Bob and I know each other and that we’ve spoken before (again, trust me)
4) Sherry will almost feel as if Bob will be mad at her if she doesn’t put through the call from “his friend” Butch (TRUST ME)
This is not rocket science and I am NOT being deceitful. If Sherry asks if Bob is expecting my call, I will answer with this, “Well, probably not today, I was just going to pick his brain for a second.”
Again, I’ve not lied about anything. I’ve just put her at ease that I am someone she should put through to Bob.
Once I get Bob on the phone, I go back to my “getting on the calendar” method that we’ve talked about before. It is painless, simple and effective.
If you will learn this strategy and use it effortlessly and naturally, your success rate of getting past gatekeepers will increase dramatically. In fact, I’m going to say you will be SHOCKED at how easy it is to reach the decision maker—and you will come to love those gatekeepers that keep the “others” out!
Question: I would LOVE to hear how this simple strategy works for you.