3 Must-Know Strategies for Getting Past that Monstrous Gatekeeper in Sales

08/22/2017 08:10 am ET

There’s a monster that keeps countless salespeople up at night. It’s not hiding in the closet or under the bed, but rather on the other end of the phone line: It’s the gatekeeper.

Although gatekeepers may be perfectly polite and decent human beings, their simple questions like, “May I ask about the nature of this call?” frequently intimidate and deter salespeople from reaching their most valuable prospects.

If you’re losing sleep—and sales—over the gatekeeper, it’s time to try these 3 must-know strategies to break through and finally connect with prospects:

1. Be firm and to the point.

Start by putting yourself in the shoes of a typical gatekeeper. Most gatekeepers have two competing responsibilities: Keeping salespeople out, and letting important contacts get through to their boss. Gatekeepers always have a nagging anxiety that they’ll block the wrong caller.

Most salespeople are immediately identifiable by their overly schmoozy, upbeat tone. Rather than winning over the gatekeeper, these salespeople are killing their chances of getting through to the VP or CEO. Ditch the salesy phone behavior, and you can crush your competition by being firm and to the point. If you simply speak with authority and a calm demeanor, gatekeepers will assume you’re an important contact who has no need to charm your way through. As a result, they’ll be much less likely to block your call.

For more on this strategy, check out the video below:

2. Give vague responses to questions.

If you’re calling on a high-level prospect to sell to a large organization, you should expect the gatekeeper to be experienced in asking probing questions to identify salespeople. If a gatekeeper asks you, “May I ask where you’re calling from?” and you say, “Oh, I’m calling from XYZ Company,” you’re dead on arrival.

The best way to get through these screening questions is to disrupt the gatekeeper’s typical conversation pattern with vague responses. For example, when they ask, “May I ask where you’re calling from?” try simply saying, “Boston.” I’m not suggesting you should ever be rude or mean. However, if you’re ever going to get through to your prospect, you have to play the game and make the gatekeeper second-guess whether you’re a salesperson or an important contact.

3. Avoid the gatekeeper altogether.

Your job would be much easier if, instead of engaging with the gatekeeper, you could just go around them instead. How can you do this? Consider the gatekeeper’s typical schedule. Most have 9-to-5 jobs with little incentive to work early, late, or on the weekends.

Your high-level prospects, on the other hand, have bottom-line responsibilities. Their bonuses are determined by the performance of the organization, so they’re much more likely to be in the office at 8:30 in the morning, 7:30 at night, or even on a Saturday afternoon. Try calling outside of normal business hours, and you’ll be amazed at how often you can avoid the gatekeeper altogether. As an added bonus, your prospect also has fewer distractions during these times and may be more available to listen to what you have to say.

Has a gatekeeper kept you from a valuable prospect in the past? How will you use the strategies above to get over this hurdle on future sales calls? Share your experiences and plans in the comments below. For more sales insight, get this Special Report on 3 Closing Questions You MUST Ask.

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