What are some of the key takeaways that we have learned?
1). No tricks. Don’ waste your time trying to trick the gatekeeper. Most gatekeepers are receptionist and secretaries who know all the games played by sales people. By using tricks, you are only hurting your credibility and could undermine your chances of reaching the decision maker. For example, I once had a sales person who called me and wanted to speak with the CEO. When I inquired why he wanted to speak with the CEO, he replied that he “just sent him an email” and needed to speak with him. Well, sending an email to the CEO doesn’t give you an automatic pass to speak to anyone. I told him that and the salesperson hung up on me.
So forget trying to be clever. And even if you are clever and get through, what have you really accomplished? All you are going to do is make the decision maker angry at you, which means you end up losing the sale before you even had a fighting chance to win.
Tricks are for trick ponies. Just be yourself.
2). Don’t sound like a sales person. One of the biggest mistakes sales people make is they sound like sales people when they call. They are overly polite, sound desperate, and just downright needy. Instead of sounding like that, take a more business tone when you call. Sound like the decision maker is expecting your call and knows who you are. For example, I once worked for a small publishing company where the senior Ad salesperson would always call and sound professional and direct. You usually got through.
3). Make the gatekeeper your ally. Rather than try to “get past” the gatekeeper, make her (and it’s usually a woman) your ally. Let her know that you have a solution that you think her employer will need, and ask for the best way to reach the decision maker. I’ve tried this method, and sometimes they will either let you through, or encourage you to email the decision maker, or recommend someone else to call at the company. On a side note, when it comes to reaching the decision maker, I always start at the top and work my way down to the bottom. It’s usually faster and easier that way rather than playing guessing games on who to call. Sometimes decision makers will tell you upfront they are not the right people to contact; instead, they will recommend someone else to call in their company.
4). Be patient. Gatekeepers are busy. You’re not the only salesperson trying to reach the decision maker. Contrary to popular belief, a gatekeepers only job isn’t fielding calls from sales people. She is usually busy doing a lot of administrative work, and managing her boss’s time so that she can keep her job. I’ve actually had gatekeepers tell me how polite I was when dealing with them. Gatekeepers are human beings – treat them with respect.
The gatekeeper can be your ally or enemy. Make her your ally and you will have a better chance of generating more sales.