Here are some tips and tactics that can improve the interactions you have with gatekeepers.
Understand the Gatekeeper
One of the reasons that gatekeepers can sometimes be difficult and unpleasant is that they are sometimes instructed to keep salespeople out. Gatekeepers are often trained on how to identify when calls are from salespeople who are trying to sell something and how to keep them from getting through to prospects. In many situations, the gatekeeper can actually get in trouble or look bad when salespeople slip past them.
Don’t Sound Like a Salesperson
Since many gatekeepers will be instructed to keep salespeople out, you can decrease the level of difficulty that you face by trying to not sound like a salesperson who is trying to sell something. One example of how you can do this is to try to avoid asking the gatekeeper to connect you with someone who makes a particular type of decisions with this type of question:
Can you connect me with the person that makes decisions regarding your website?
This basically tells the gatekeeper that you want to try to sell something that pertains to the website, and it will let the gatekeeper know that he or she needs to be very cautious about letting you in. Try to perform research to find the actual names of people you should to talk to or ask for the title of the person with something like this:
Can you connect me with the director of marketing?
The other area in which you need to be careful about not sounding like a salesperson is how you respond to the gatekeeper’s objections, and we will discuss that later in this chapter.
Try to Enlist Their Help
Sometimes you can try to recruit the gatekeeper to help you in your effort to figure out who to talk to. This is not necessarily an option when your gatekeeper is in full “get rid of you” mode as he or she will have zero interest in trying to help you. But when you first start a call with a gatekeeper and have not triggered guardedness, you can try to get the gatekeeper to take more of a helpful role by starting out with one of the statements below:
Maybe you can help me with this.
Maybe you can point me in the right direction.
I am not really sure who I need to speak with.
I might need your help with this one.
Adding your question after that could end up looking something like this:
Maybe you can help me with this. I usually work with directors of finance, and I am having trouble finding that person in your organization. Do you know who I should reach out to?
I am not really sure who I need to speak with. I usually work with directors of finance, and I am having trouble finding that person in your organization. Do you know who I should reach out to?
To improve the odds of this working, try to speak in a way that sounds like a mix of curious and a little lost. If you don’t know what this sounds like, try to make the face you would have if you were confused about something when you are talking to the gatekeeper.
Treat the Gatekeeper Like the Prospect
If it does not look like the gatekeeper is going to let you through, simply shift gears and start treating the gatekeeper like the target prospect. There are two different ways to do this. First, if the gatekeeper does not understand who you are, who you should talk to, or why the target prospect will want to talk to you, you can try to take a step back and educate the gatekeeper on all of this by sharing either your value points, pain points, or name-drop.