Top 10 Tips for Getting Past the Gatekeeper
The Gatekeeper’ is the individual whose job it is to prevent people getting access to the Decision-Maker. Typically, this is a personal assistant or a secretary, but in some companies, it is even the receptionist or switchboard operator. These are Top 10 Tips for Getting Past the Gatekeeper:
TIP 1: THE GATEKEEPER IS NOT THE ENEMY… GIVE THEM THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT
Whoever is acting as the Gatekeeper between you and the Decision-Maker (DM) is just doing their job. Seeing the Gatekeeper as the enemy creates a self-imposed psychological barrier that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to remove. Treat them with the courtesy and respect of a CEO. Doors will magically open for you.
TIP 2: SOUND SUPERIOR
During the opening seconds of your conversation, if the Gatekeeper senses that you are their superior, they will not risk offending you by probing too deeply. Use a relaxed and calm voice, speak slowly and articulately and don’t divulge more than is necessary.
TIP 3: THE GATEKEEPER IS A WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE…
Remember that whilst the Gatekeeper’s role is to restrict interruptions to the DM’s daily routine, they do know a great deal of important information about the DM and the business. Use this opportunity to check that the person that you want to speak to IS the decision-maker. Check your facts with them. They know who you should be talking to. Ask if you are targeting the right person. Let them paint the relationship structure for you and guide you up the ladder.
TIP 4: DON’T SELL TO THE GATEKEEPER
The Gatekeeper has several distinct ‘powers’. One of them is the power to connect you with the right person. However, they do not hold any decision-making powers. No matter how desperate you are to connect with the DM, do not sell to the Gatekeeper.
TIP 5: ENGAGE DON’T EVADE
Don’t be awkward and don’t try to sneak past the Gatekeeper. Actively engage with the Gatekeeper. Refer to them by name, every time. Be friendly, polite, and direct. Don’t get too personal, don’t pry, but you can gently probe. Building a relationship and a rapport with them will help them want to help you.
TIP 6: RELAX AND BE CONFIDENT
If you are nervous, stressed or tense, you will transfer those feelings to your voice, your behavior and choice of words. Take some deep slow quiet breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth to put yourself at ease. When the Gatekeeper answers, smile and confidently greet them with energy and ease.
TIP 7: DON’T SCRIPT, PLAN.
Unless you are a particularly good actor, don’t use a script on the Gatekeeper. Instead, plan how you will approach them. Plan your responses to key objections but leave yourself room by improvising the dialogue.
TIP 8: USE TACTICS… GET THEM ON YOUR SIDE
Tactics are verbs used to get results from other people. It’s essential that you be in control of the tactics that you are playing. Think about what tactics you will play throughout your PLAN. Whatever your style, get the assistant on your side. After all, they’re controlling your access to the company.
TIP 9: THE GATEKEEPER IS YOUR ADVOCATE
If you’ve effectively engaged the gatekeeper, they will be your advocate throughout the entire sales cycle. Let them make introductions on your behalf. Ask about the best ways to engage various decision makers. Ask their opinion on what’s most important to each decision maker. Use them as a strategic sounding board as your deal goes through the pipe. The more they are engaged in the value, the more value they add to you.
TIP 10: THE LAST BEST SOLUTION – ASK FOR HELP
Ask the Gatekeeper about the best time to call, the easiest way to get in touch, direct numbers, cell phone numbers, etc. Ask if it’s better to leave a voicemail, leave a message, or just to call back. It’s not the best solution, but this way you can point out to them that by asking for these informations, you can save from taking up more of their time and bothering them further.
Of course, Marketing is a personal art and what works for one, will not necessarily work for another. These Top Ten Tips should be the starting place for developing your own personal method of bypassing the Gatekeeper, rather than seeing them as cast iron instructions to be rigidly followed.