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Telesales training ~ Getting Past Gatekeepers Part 2

Part 2 of 3


Working with Gate-keepers to Get in Front of Decision-makers

In our last segment, we discussed how to work with gatekeepers to gain information that we can use when approaching gatekeepers for access to decision-makers.

There are two schools of thought about how you can approach gatekeepers when looking to gain access to decision-makers. There's the - "Boss Tone" approach where you present yourself as an executive looking to speak with another executive. And, there's the "Building Rapport" approach where you set-out to build relationship with the gatekeeper in hopes that they will give you access to the decision-maker. Both strategies have their merit. Lets examine them.

1) Confident, assertive, "Boss Tone" approach
One approach is to assume that the gatekeeper is not your friend.

You can be nice, and not her (or him) your enemy, but always remember that she's out to protect her boss from interruptions, not make new phone buddies. Every caller sounds the same, and if someone is truly important, she'll realize it and put the caller through.

The question I ask: "If Donald Trump were to call your prospect, and that prospect's secretary were to say to him, 'What is this in reference to?' what do you think Donald Trump would say?"

This question always occasions much conversation. The general consensus of opinion, however, is that Donald Trump would probably say, "This is Donald Trump. Is she there?"

I know that many of you will now say to me, "I'm not famous." It doesn't matter. I'm willing to bet that Donald Trump and Barbra Streisand would have said exactly the same thing 30 years ago before they were famous. I'm willing to bet that 30 years ago they had almost the same self-confidence, assurance and sense of entitlement that they have now. It was that self- confidence, assurance and sense of entitlement that helped them get to where they are now.

Shifting Your Mindset From SalesPerson to Boss:
Let's switch gears for a moment and talk about your prospects. What type of people are they? They are bosses. What does it mean to be a boss? How does a boss behave? First of all, bosses are decision-makers. That's what we call them and that's what they do. They are used to making decisions. They also have at least some authority to be able to implement their decisions. They give direction and expect the direction to be followed. More than likely, at least in their business persona, they have self- confidence and assurance. These are all traits that bosses or leaders share and these traits influence how a boss or a leader behaves.

Usually what it boils down to is being as like the prospect as you can be without mimicking or imitating them. When you are able to do this well, your prospect will see you as being like them. That prospect is then more likely to feel comfortable with you and want to spend time with you and do business with you.

a) Behave like a Boss - Let's take that a step further and talk about secretaries and assistants. If you behave like a boss, i.e., with authority, self-confidence and assurance, the secretary will see you as being a boss. Other bosses are peers with her boss. The secretary will give more value, importance and urgency to your call when she believes you to be a peer of her boss.

b) Tell the gatekeeper clearly what you are asking of her. In general, I have found that telling the gatekeeper who you are calling for is more effective than asking if he's available. Every time we ask a question, we leave ourselves open to hearing "no"...and we already get enough of that! Also, people are trained to do what they are told. Most importantly, when we speak to others, we are also speaking to ourselves, and stating that I am calling for the decision-maker reminds me of my purpose, and removes the possibility that I will not get to speak with them. A gatekeeper will hear in my voice that I deserve and expect to be put through. That's why I am calling, and any other outcome would be...well, strange.

With this posture, I have had gatekeepers actually apologize to me if the decision-maker was not available! I want to be clear that I am never pushy or rude. I am well aware that the gatekeeper has the leverage- always. But I do have confidence and credibility. Once you make enough calls in your life, you stop looking for practice, and start going for results.

2) Building Rapport - Relationship Building Approach

This second approach is to turn Gatekeepers into allies by treating them with respect, humor and compassion. Their job can be tough too. They get it from both ends. The emphasis is to regard them as people with their own personality, not as faceless obstacles to be overcome at all costs.


a) Help decision makers look good in their boss's eyes. Can you solve his/her problem? Let the GK know and they will "carry your torch" for you. Let the gatekeeper present you as his/her solution to the decision-maker's problem.

b) Use humor, creativity and topicality to distinguish yourself from others.

c) Take the time to establish rapport with each person you come in contact with. Whether or not they're the actual person you were wishing to speak to, they are actual people -- deserving of your courtesy, respect and attention.

d) When using voicemail, don't use up entire voice mail tape. Make your messages succinct: short and sweet. When leaving repeated voice mail messages, list a different benefit you provide or skill you possess during each message, as a way to both qualify and distinguish yourself.

e) Stay upbeat -- even if it's the 10th unreturned message you're leaving.

f) Be creative/funny/distinguishable so as to get consideration. One professional could never get her calls taken when she left her full name. One time, when asked by the Gatekeeper for her name, she used a literary name from a movie Tristan and Isolde. She replied "Isolde" (pronounced I-zolda). She nearly fainted when the gatekeeper then asked her to spell her name. The Decision Maker, intrigued, took her call and turned out to also be a fan of the same movie.

Both approaches have their merit and both approaches are effective.

My advice is to "mirror" as much as possible the gatekeeper's style. Try to understand if it is a formal work environment or if it is more informal. You may also adjust the style depending on the size of business, the location (smaller community vs. big city), etc.

The most important thing is to be natural. And "natural" only becomes natural with practice.

In our next segment we will discuss what never to do with gatekeepers and some ideas and new approaches when you've tried it all and everything fails.

Are you tired of having ineffectual results from your cold call campaigns? Don't give up - our telesales training in Toronto will help you supercharge your campaign results quickly and easily.

After hundreds of thousands of phone calls, clients (Mirvish, HP, Scotia McLeod, etc.), 20 years of experience, Marguerite and her team know exactly what you need to succeed using the phone. Her 7-Step Model to implement successful outbound telephone prospecting campaigns has driven 300% year over year growth for clients.

You can reach Marguerite at The Results Source

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