Chances are rare that you will reach a company’s decision-maker on the first call. In fact, if you’re seeking to connect with VP or C-level prospects, your first call is likely to be with an executive assistant, office manager, or receptionist. These gatekeepers determine whether or not you’ll pitch your product to anyone in the company. Even though the gatekeeper doesn’t have any decision-making authority, they can stop you from making the sale.
Getting past the gatekeeper is a common challenge for most salespeople and overcoming this obstacle is a critical skill if you want to earn new clients. Getting past the gatekeeper requires you to have strategies that vary depending on the time of the year, current situation, internal politics, and the customer industry.
Who are Gatekeepers?
The first thing that comes to mind when you think of a gatekeeper is someone at a security checkpoint.
A gatekeeper is someone who intercepts sales experts before they can speak with the company owner or high ranking executive. They are common in major corporations and they listen to a salesperson’s materials to determine if there is a potential benefit for the company. Once the gatekeeper approves a salesperson, they’ll organize a meeting or offer a direct line of communication to a decision maker. The gatekeeper will be your first point of contact when you call or send an email.
Decision makers are responsible for managing priorities in the company and they need gatekeepers to help them remain focused. Gatekeepers in business are receptionists, executive assistants, or office managers who are trained to recognize the difference between an important opportunity and a waste of time. When it comes to getting past the gatekeeper, there’s no magic to pitch your prospect. However, there are techniques you can use to increase your success rate.
1. Be Respectful
While you may view gatekeepers as an obstacle to overcome, it should go without saying that they deserve your patience and respect. The best gatekeepers guard the time of their team. By showing respect to the gatekeeper, you show that you are committed to building a relationship with the organization.
Always be kind and show your gratitude for their help, whether they connect you to their supervisor or not. Remember to thank the gatekeeper and use their name. Good manners matter.
2. Do Your Research
The more you know about the organization you’re contacting, the higher your chance of making a connection. Remember, gatekeepers are combing through dozens of prospecting attempts everyday. To stand out, you need to show that what you offer can add tangible value to their organization.
In order to prove your value, you need to have a pulse on the pains and needs of your prospect. You can even get hyper-personalized by examining their social media and keeping up with their organization in the news. By understanding their present circumstances, you can position your offering as timely and relevant.
By doing your homework, you can also learn about the decision-maker and the gatekeeper before you reach out. Look for ways to work your search results into your conversations. For instance, if you saw on their LinkedIn a mention of their top accomplishment being exceeding their sales goals, you can mention that your offer will help the decision-maker surpass their sales target in the coming year.
3. Focus on Relationship Building
Your relationship with an organization starts with your relationship with the gatekeeper. Don’t take this lightly. Chances are, you’ll have multiple interactions with the gatekeeper and if things go well, that will only continue. Use the gatekeepers name, seek to establish a connection, and make notes about your conversations.
Keep in mind that you need the gatekeeper more than they need you. So, make it a point to demonstrate to the gatekeeper that you respect their position. Focusing on relationship building, rather than forcing your agenda, can go a long way in establishing authentic rapport.
4. Be Confident
Confidence is crucial when you want to get past the gatekeeper.
Your communication should be direct, compelling, and concise. A gatekeeper isn’t likely to spend their valuable time reading your 6 paragraph email or listening to a 10 minute monologue about why you’re reaching out. Know who you’re contacting, why you’re reaching out, and what you can offer.
Cold outreach can be intimidating but nerves will only stand in your way. Remember, if what you’re selling is truly of value, the right prospects will be grateful for your message.
It may be tough to get past the gatekeeper, but it’s not impossible. In fact, it’s our specialty. To learn more about how we can help you meet directly with decision makers, click here.