Gatekeepers—the number one thing keeping your sales team from pitching qualified leads. While there are no single good responses to get past the gatekeeper, there are a variety of tactics you can practice to increase your pitch rate with key decision-makers.
In this blog, we’ll highlight the following topics:
A gatekeeper is the person who controls access between a cold caller and a key decision-maker (KDM). When calling a business, the gatekeeper is typically the first person that answers the phone. Their responsibility is to learn who is calling, who they want to talk to, and what the call is regarding. Then, they relay this information to the KDM so they can decide if they want to take the call. More often than not, the gatekeeper is not the KDM.
Gatekeepers can hold many positions, including receptionists, personal assistants, and secretaries. However, gatekeepers aren’t always hired professionals to screen calls. They can also be close personal contacts such as spouses and relatives.
Gatekeepers are trained to screen calls and take messages for other business employees if they are busy or out of the office. While many cold callers fear the gatekeepers, they’re just trying to do their job.
Business employees typically have a lot on their plate, so the gatekeeper wants to make sure that every phone call directed to the individual is valuable. Some gatekeepers are easier to get by than others. One gatekeeper may thoroughly screen the call, and another may just patch you right on through. Every gatekeeper and business is different with how they operate, so you must be prepared to get past the receptionist when cold calling.
Cold calling is a sales artform that every salesperson should master. Check out our blog to learn the most up-to-date cold calling best practices.
Back in the day, sales reps would practice old-school tactics to get past gatekeepers. Before cold calling, salespeople would attempt a cold meeting by showing up unannounced at the prospective business’s office. These sales reps would try to get past gatekeepers by bringing them flowers, gift cards, and other forms of collateral to try to get in contact with the person in charge of making decisions regarding whatever they were selling.
Today, getting past gatekeepers is a little different. Since cold calling is so prevalent in today’s lead generation efforts, sales reps don’t have the opportunity to bring receptionists and secretaries gifts to sway their opinion. In addition, these old-school tactics started to receive a bad reputation and can be seen as sleazy by prospective businesses.
When cold calling, consider these modern and worthy tactics to get past the gatekeeper:
Respecting the gatekeeper’s time and building their trust is essential to getting through to a KDM. Before calling a prospective business, research the company and the decision-maker you’d like to speak with. When you have more information about a prospect, the gatekeeper is more likely to put you in contact with a KDM.
One of the best ways to find information about a prospective business is by researching the company, gatekeeper, and KDM online. Finding the company website and their social media profile allows you to understand the company better and your best point of contact.
In addition, by researching the lead ahead of time, you could find crucial information about the prospect that you or your business can relate with. For example, if a company, gatekeeper, or KDM’s LinkedIn profile shows that they partner with a local business that you or your company also partners with, it would be worth mentioning the mutual relationship. This builds trust and allows you to find common ground between your two companies.
Sincerity goes a long way with gatekeepers. When a business hires receptionists, they’re trained to screen and block sales calls. If you lie to them about the reason you’re calling a KDM, they’ll know and deny access to the individual, making your job much harder in the long run.
As you make small talk with gatekeepers, be honest with them and tell them the purpose of your call. When you lead a conversation with confidence rather than beating around the bush, gatekeepers are more likely to transfer your call to the KDM.
While you don’t want to sell to the gatekeeper, giving them a “mini pitch” about the product or service your company offers could be beneficial. A “mini pitch” could help you gain their trust and enable them to see the advantages your business has to offer for them. If your sales pitch is good enough, they may even feel like the KDM would be missing out if they didn’t have your company’s product or service.
Gatekeepers of small to medium-sized businesses typically wear many hats, which means they contain a plethora of valuable company information. Even if a KDM is unavailable, use your time with the gatekeeper to ask crucial lead qualifying questions.
If you’re unsure who a KDM would be, ask the gatekeeper if the person you have listed would be the best point of contact about your product or service. If they say “yes,” ask them for an email address or direct line to reach them more easily.
After several call attempts and you still can’t get in contact with a KDM, ask the gatekeeper lead qualifying questions such as the square footage of their office, the number of employees or workstations, and more. That way, when you finally get in touch with a KDM, you can have a more focused conversation about how your company can benefit their business. At the end of the sales pitch, you can verify the accuracy of the information the gatekeeper gave you.
When making financial business decisions, several decision-makers and influencers are typically involved. If the ultimate KDM seems to never be in the office or is always in a meeting, ask the gatekeeper for a better point of contact. If the gatekeeper says that individual is the only point of contact, ask for an email address or a more direct line so you can leave them a voicemail.
All in all, the best way to get past gatekeepers is to have a direct line to the KDM. This could be their office phone number, extension, or cell phone. Having a direct line to the KDM allows you and your sales team to jump straight into a pitch rather than having to explain to gatekeepers why you’re calling them. While you may not get in touch with them immediately, at least you can leave a voicemail that encourages them to give you a call back.
In all honesty, there is no single good response to get past the gatekeeper. However, by following the best practices mentioned in this blog, you’re more likely to build credibility with the gatekeeper and convince them to transfer your call to a KDM.
At Abstrakt Marketing Group, our sales development teams are trained to get past gatekeepers and have effective sales calls with qualified leads. If you want some of the best cold callers in the industry, contact us to learn how we can help you with your B2B appointment setting efforts!