Four Key Strategies When Navigating Gatekeepers
Much of the success of inside sales revolves around reaching the right person at the right time. Usually, C-level executives are the decision makers. To reach this group, and to even have a chance to pitch, salespeople need to jump over a series of hurdles to climb up the ladder of the organization. Gatekeepers exist at every level of a company. Navigating gatekeepers is a challenging endeavor, but there are several strategies that can help win them over.
Dale Carnegie said “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” This holds true in all aspects of sales, and it is no different when dealing with gatekeepers. Chances are, you are going to encounter the same receptionist more than once when calling into a company. Many times, the person on the other end will introduce themselves and the company when they pick up the phone. Write the name down, and repeat it back to them. By listening to their name and repeating it, you disarm the gatekeeper and put a much more casual spin on the interaction.
Ask for Help
It never hurts to ask for help. Coming across as confused or lost can often be an effective strategy when navigating gatekeepers. By saying things like “I might be in the wrong spot…” or “You can probably help me out.”, it shows vulnerability and helps you come across as a genuine person. Gatekeepers pick up the phone all day and encounter salespeople who talk down to them and fail to treat them with the respect they deserve. By asking for help, you show that you respect their opinion and value their assistance. The gatekeeper has the power anyway, so it is beneficial to show you understand that.
When you ask for help, it shows humility. Confidence is key in sales, but reigning that in when speaking with gatekeepers makes you more likable and relatable as a person.
Honesty is always the best policy. Attempting to deceive a gatekeeper will get you nowhere but the general voicemail. And if you somehow do get through to a decision maker after lying, that conversation often doesn’t go well anyway. You will be asked what your call is regarding, and if the person you are trying to reach is expecting the call. When answering the former, you don’t have to give every detail. Simply give an honest and concise answer that the gatekeeper can pass along.
If you lie about who you are or why you’re calling and the gatekeeper puts you through, they could be in trouble with the boss. At that point, the bridge is burned and you can cross the account off of the target list. In the long run, showing integrity will prove to be essential in reaching the executives you need.
Being human and establishing a connection with a gatekeeper is essential. Act as if the receptionist is your prospect and try to build rapport right away. When you inevitably call again, you are more likely to be remembered if you were cheerful and polite the first time. On top of that, word of mouth can be very powerful. If the decision maker finds out you treated the gatekeeper with respect, it is more likely they will be receptive to your pitch. Gatekeepers are not just employees who answer phones and transfer calls. They are real human people who have good days and bad days, so they should be treated as such.
Winning over the gatekeeper is the first step in winning the business. When navigating gatekeepers, keep in mind that they control your fate. For more good strategies, check out Acquirent’s Sales Training Fundamentals series. All of the key tactics revolve around treating the person on the other end of the phone as a human being. Be cheerful, use please and thank you, and try to smile through the phone. If you play your cards right, you will be memorable and eventually passed along to that elusive decision maker.
Sales Executive II