When working an account, we have to figure out who’s the decision maker and how to get in touch with them. Gatekeepers are employees within a company that screen calls to protect the time of their colleagues. It’s not a formal title; it’s a role commonly performed by receptionists and administrative assistants, but almost anyone in a company could be a gatekeeper.
At the same time, a gatekeeper can be an incredible resource. As they’re typically in administrative roles, they’re well aware of what is going on in their company, and you need to leverage that knowledge to your advantage. Don’t treat them like hurdles when they could be springboards.
Call calmly and confidently as if they were expecting your call. Don’t rush, take a breath and have a conversation, remember that this is a person, not a challenge to overcome. If they help you, don’t forget to thank them, showing your appreciation will help you get past them again in subsequent calls.
Gatekeepers may be influencers within the company and could have insight into what’s happening in the company; this information will give you context when speaking with the decision maker. When they say their name, make a note of it, and use it to personalize the conversation further. Also, if routed to a decision maker, mentioning the gatekeeper by name can increase your chances of having a meaningful discussion.
Don’t be confrontational with a gatekeeper, just because they’re blocking the way, doesn’t mean you should try to crash through the gate. They’re saving the time of their valuable employees. Be courteous, don’t ever get upset, and always be positive.
Remember that these gatekeepers are likely fending off multiple salespeople per day. Your generic call script probably sounds like everyone else’s generic call script. Research the company through social media and press releases, read their website, find a way to connect to them through topics relevant to their company. Evolve and tailor scripts to appeal to your audience. Read the cold calling scripts chapter in our B2B Appointment Setting Guide to learn more about the way that we have seen success utilizing scripts.
It doesn’t matter how great your product is, the gatekeeper rarely, if ever, has decision making authority. Even if they ask what you are selling, do not slip into your pitch, give them a concise value proposition. Otherwise, it will only give them more opportunities to object.
Be persistent, a staggering amount sales and sales development reps never follow up. Do your best not to let prospects slip through the cracks. A good sales call cadence strategy can help with this. Persistence should stop at three professional “No’s,” meaning if you get shot down, get back up and try again, only after being rejected three times should you move on.
Empower the gatekeeper by letting them help you, pretending to be a little confused or lost can be beneficial when speaking to the gatekeeper. As they screen and direct calls throughout the company, they likely have an organization chart and would know whom you should talk to. They’ll help you grow out your database of contacts, let them be your springboard.
With these seven elements, you will get more out of your interactions and should have no trouble building rapport with gatekeepers. Just don’t fall into the trap of putting gatekeepers on a pedestal, they aren’t ogres guarding a hoard of treasure, they’re people like you and me.
If you’d like to learn more about appointment setting and sales development strategies, read through our Ultimate Guide to B2B Appointment Setting.