Gatekeepers prevent unsolicited calls and requests from reaching their boss. It’s part of their job to screen and weed out anything they deem unimportant. As a sales professional, a gatekeeper poses a big obstacle. You need to get in touch with the appropriate person, but you have to get through the admin or assistant first.

Instead of seeing gatekeepers as the enemy, try viewing them as an ally. Julie Hansen, president of Performance Sales and Training, says that when you know how to communicate and work with gatekeepers, you can significantly increase your odds of reaching your intended contact.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we discuss Hansen’s best practices for working with gatekeepers.

Give them a reason to listen to you. The first step in working with gatekeepers is to show them why they should stop what they’re doing to talk with you. They were working on something else when you called, and you don’t want to waste their time. Hansen says you can set yourself apart by communicating an authentic interest in them. Show the gatekeeper they are not just a means to an end, she says.

Communicate value. It’s important to show that your call is relevant so you don’t get dismissed. After all, the gatekeeper is tasked with filtering out things their boss doesn’t need to see or hear. Hansen suggests thinking about how you can communicate your solution. The goal is to show the gatekeeper why it’s important to pass you through to their boss.

Talk like an insider. Every industry has its own vernacular. When you use words and phrases that align with the company you’re calling, the gatekeepers you encounter will likely feel more comfortable letting you in. And if they don’t pass you through immediately, they may still take down your information and share it with their boss.

Be clear about what you want. Are you calling to make an appointment? Do you want to find another way of reaching a decision-maker? Always know what you want before you call, says Hansen. Otherwise, the gatekeeper may discard your request or pass it off with an explanation like, “Some woman left this message.”

Enlist their help. Another way to work with gatekeepers is to involve them in the outcome. Ask them for their help in reaching someone and get their opinion on when you should try to reach this particular person. The goal is to make the gatekeeper look good for “finding” you and recognizing your value, says Hansen. You could say something like, “I appreciate your help today. If you don’t mind, I’ll let you know when I reach him.” Hansen says this gives the gatekeeper a stake in the results.

When you’re trying to reach a potential buyer, you know how frustrating it can be to get blocked by a gatekeeper. You don’t have to let gatekeepers sideline you, though. You just need to make them see that you’re not another solicitor. Be friendly and look for ways to build rapport with them. Getting past gatekeepers can be challenging, but not impossible.
Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Julie Hansen is the president of Performance Sales and Training. She’s also an international speaker, sales trainer and author.