What I am asked the most about by professional sales people is for cold calling strategies to get past gatekeepers. It is a tricky task that can frustrate even the most successful sales people. However, if growing your business is the goal, then you will have to find more new clients. That means you will have to pick up the phone and make cold calls, thus conversations with gatekeepers will be inevitable.
The first thing to remember about gatekeepers is that they are people too. They are not just a barrier that has to be overcome at all costs. This attitude will backfire eventually and makes for a frustrating day on the phones.
So, the question then becomes, "What is the best strategy to move beyond the gatekeeper and speak with your prospective client?"
#1 - Treat them like the expert
Talk to the gatekeeper like you would any "influencer" that could impact the decision process to buy your solution. Don’t underestimate their knowledge and potential input into the decision making process. Give them credit for their role in the process and assume it is a major role.
#2 - Appeal to their sense of helpfulness
I always start a conversation with a gatekeeper with some variation of, “I bet you can help me out…” People want to be helpful, and gatekeepers have usually earned their position in part because of their resourcefulness. Appeal to this talent and you might find them being an advocate for you and not an adversary.
#3 - A little humor never hurt anyone
Nothing breaks down barriers like a smile or laughter. A little humor can humanize you to a gatekeeper and quickly separate you from all the “drones” and “script-readers” the gatekeeper has to deal with everyday. I am not talking about telling them a “knock-knock joke,” but maybe you make a funny observation about the awkwardness of this “dance” the two of you are engaged in or you comment on how grateful you are to speak to a live person and not a machine. The point is, being friendly and self deprecating can go a long way in getting the gatekeeper on your side!
WARNING: If no one has ever accused you of being funny, this might not be the best time to break-out your comedy material… stick to the first 2 strategies and you will be fine!
What strategies do you use to get beyond the gatekeeper?