If you are involved in the telemarketing industry, I have no doubt you will be familiar with the term ‘The Gatekeeper’. The gatekeeper is put in place to prevent people from getting access to the Decision-Makers and key influencers. Frequently, this is a personal assistant or a secretary, but in some instances, it can be the receptionist or switchboard operator. Below you will find some ‘Tips for getting past the gatekeepers’.
Goal: telemarketing and increased sales
Get past gatekeeper
Access decision maker
Where access to decision makers is proving difficult, work on decision making influencers for leverage
Uncover decision maker’s needs
Create meeting and/or RFP opportunity with decision maker
Convert meeting/RFP into sales
The Gatekeeper Is An Opportunity Not A Threat
Always bear in mind that the gatekeeper is just doing their job. Part of their job is managing distractions for the decision makers. Perceiving and treating gatekeepers as the enemy can create an unnecessary self generated psychological barrier to successful communication, which may be very difficult to remove and result in failure to achieve sales objectives. Remember that Gatekeepers often know a great deal of important information about the decision makers, decision influencers and the business itself. Speaking with the gatekeeper can be used as an opportunity to check that the person that you want to speak to is the right person. You can verify your facts with them. Ideally you should seek to ask simple, apparently non-intrusive open questions to try to gather insight concerning both the Gatekeeper and the Decision-Maker.
Perception Is key – Sound Senior
Management figures rarely get treated the same as the general staff due to natural society respect for authority figures. If someone believes that you are a senior figure, they will treat you favourably. You can easily convey a sense of authority through using a relaxed and calm voice, speaking slowly and articulately and not divulging more information than is necessary. If during the opening seconds of your conversation, the Gatekeeper perceives that you are an authority figure, they will not risk offending you by asking you too many questions.
Barking Up The Wrong Tree – Avoid Selling To The Gatekeeper
The Gatekeeper has several key ‘powers’. One of them is the power to connect you with the right person. However, they do not hold any decision-making powers. When the Gatekeeper asks ‘Can I tell him/her what it’s regarding?’ – do not try to pitch your product or service to the Gatekeeper. Firstly, it will waste your time. Secondly, it will irritate them and it is highly likely you will then be simply guiding them towards an opportunity to tell you that they cannot help you. No matter how eager to you are to convert some friendly dialogue with the gatekeeper into an advocate, avoid it at all costs.
Communicate Effectively And Avoid Being Too Distant
Try to sneak past the Gatekeeper with minimal dialogue and the chances are you’ll invite unwelcome, challenging questions. Instead you should seek to proactively communicate with and engage the gatekeeper. Avoid being too personal and risking coming across as insincere but you can gently probe for freely available information. If you are unable to get through to the decision maker, seek to engage the gatekeeper so that when you call again they are a willing helper. It’s unlikely you will become best friends with the gatekeeper, but building a relationship and a rapport with them will help them want to help you in the future. Surprisingly, gatekeepers have long memories when it comes to names of callers and companies and so ideally you want to be remembered in a highly positive way.
If you are nervous, stressed or tense, you will transfer those feelings to your voice, your behaviour and choice of words. Have you ever heard the expression, ‘you can hear a smile’? All of these factors will make an impact on how the gatekeeper perceives you and therefore how they receive your request for access or information. Always take some deep slow quiet breaths throughout the phone conversation to put yourself at ease. When the Gatekeeper answers smile and confidently greet them with energy and ease and the chances are you will be met with a reflection at the other end of the phone line.
Avoid Scripts But ‘Do’ Plan
Unless you are a good actor, avoid the use a script when speaking with the gatekeeper, or anyone else for that matter (unless call scripter is required for legal jargon purposes e.g. financial services sales). The reason for this is that they are likely to hear the scripted tone in your voice. Instead, plan how you will approach the call; what responses you might use depending upon the range of dialogue routes they might take (e.g. overcoming objections). Plan your responses to key objections but ensure you are able to improvise the dialogue so that you maximise your chances of securing the end goal of telemarketing.
Sounding Like A Familiar Contact
In order to bypass the gatekeeper, try using the decision maker’s first name only. Try ‘Can I speak to Catherine please?’, as it then sounds like a personal call. Remember your goal is not to inform the gatekeeper that your goal is to bypass them to get to the decision maker. Next, they might ask ‘Is she expecting your call?’. Simply and easily reply ‘Yes, I sent her some information through from our Head Office, we need to discuss it before close of business today’.
Raising Awareness Is Important Too And Recall May Help Your Next Call
It’s not the best solution, but can always ask if you can be put through to the decision maker’s voicemail if you are unable to speak with the decision maker when you call. As in a telemarketing environment, quickly point out a benefit for the gatekeeper of doing this. If the gatekeeper says that the decision maker is ‘out to lunch’ or ‘in a meeting’ and you’ve already called more than a few times, you could point out that you’ve already taken up a lot of their time and ask if they can put you through to voicemail to save bothering them further.
Getting Around The Challenge Of No Names Policies
In the corporate world more and more companies are putting up barriers to company’s telemarketing to ask for the names of their employees and for a variety of reasons.
We employ a number of tactics to help overcome this challenge, which include: asking to be put through to the extension of the head of procurement for example or the voicemail. Often gatekeepers will entertain this and you can then obtain the names from the voicemail messages or from whoever you get to speak with. However, where the rules are tighter, we use Linked In, Facebook, Googling for ‘brand managers at XYZ company’ etc. Even if you call a company with the name of an ex-employee, so long as they only left the company concerned within the last 6-12 months, the chances are high that the gatekeeper will provide you with the replacement’s name.
These telemarketing (cold calling) tips should be the starting place for developing your own personal telemarketing technique and plan for bypassing the gatekeeper, rather than seeing them as instructions to be rigidly followed. Please remember to always buy CTPS (B2B) and TPS (B2C) lists from reputable data brokers when calling prospects, in order to avoid prosecution ref; canvassing of prospects who have expressed wish not to be called by sales canvassers.
If you are having no luck obtaining names or getting past gatekeepers and realise a need to employ new telemarketing tactics request more information below. If you have some thoughts and views you wish to share or have some other great ideas and tips to share, please comment below, call us on 0845 3058145 or visit our website at http://www.optimumresourcegroup.co.uk/leadgeneration/telemarketing/
This article was written by @leadgenduane