Getting through the gatekeeper.
If you feel that is your problem, you are probably making other mistakes.
Fact: In all my years of appointment setting I never tried to “get through the gatekeeper.” Never.
Why? Well, trying to “get thru the gatekeeper” is a low-probability of success action. A very low probability of success action. There are higher probability actions and they should be used before you use what I call the gatekeeper “Hail Mary.”
Here are some gatekeeper realities and strategies.
1. Tricks don’t work.
At no time do you ever try to trick, push or wrestle with a gatekeeper. It has been painful to listen to recordings of callers trying to “wrestle” with gatekeepers to get by. You always lose. Always. Your strategy has to be non-confrontational and aligned with THEIR interests.
Stay congruent with the interests of the gatekeeper.
You are not going to sell the gatekeeper. Don’t even try.
2. Provide as little information as possible
Here is a bulletin for you. Your one minute speech about how great you and your company are, what you are doing and how you are helping companies just like theirs, isn’t helping you. In fact, it provides confirmation that you are exactly the type of person they need to block. You are sounding just like many others that have wasted their time.
If I am calling mega company to speak to Bill Jones, I would simply say “Bill Jones please” in a bored voice with absolute confidence I am going to be connected. If they ask who is calling my reply is “Scott Channell.” Again, said with confidence that this is sufficient.
3. If your core strategy is to have a gatekeeper connect you to your target, you will most likely lose. You must become adept at connecting with your targets without gatekeeper interaction.
By far your highest probability of success comes from the economic buyer answering your call or replying to an email. Focus on making that happen
Your lowest probability of success is the gatekeeper putting you through. Don’t try this low-probability action before you have exhausted the higher probabilty actions.
4. Get direct dial and extension numbers.
This is key. The better you get at collecting direct dial and extension numbers, the less you interact with gatekeepers, the more conversations you have, the more appointments you set.
With every call, with every interaction with an assistant or influencer, try to get the direct dial, extension or cell number.
The more direct dial numbers you collect, the higher the odds of success.
5. Use every call to improve your chances of connecting on the next call.
If you truly are calling with a prospecting CALLING PROCESS, that process accepts the reality that most calls result in something other than a conversation with a decision-maker. Use the call as an opportunity to improve the odds of getting through on the next call.
Have a strategy to get the email, direct dial, extension or cell number. Make an effort every time to obtain these if you don’t have them.
This is counter-intuitive but key. Try hard to eliminate unqualified and low-value targets. The fewer calls you make to the unqualified, the more calls that can be made to the qualified.
Fact: Many “I can’t get through the gatekeeper” problems are in fact “I’m calling too many unqualified, low-value, no-value” records.
6. Strangely, people are more willing to give you information they think is unimportant to you, sooooooooooooooo….. rather than directly ask for extension numbers to hear “we don’t give out that info,” try this. Make your call. Get transferred to voicemail. Leave your well-crafted voicemail message. Call back and explain to the gatekeeper you just called for Ms. Jones and got voicemail. You are sending out some info to Ms. Jones and just so you know better what to send, could she give you an idea as to … how many salespeople are in the company, how many employees there are, how many widgets they use… some questions which shed some light on their potential worth to you. Get the answer. Then, as an afterthought, just as good-bye’s are being said… pull a Columbo..”one last thing… do you have that extension number for the next time I call?” With this approach you get some qualifying info and more extension numbers.
7. Call other departments.
Call shipping or transportation. They care little about corporate policies. There is a script path you can use to get direct dial and extension numbers from this source.
8. Call before and after hours.
Once you stockpile direct dial and extension numbers you can “power call” before and after hours. Assuming you are properly setup… let me repeat… assuming you are properly setup for calling efficiency, you can dial 60-80 dials an hour and have 2/3/4 conversations. If you do this 2 or 3 times per week and set one appointment for every 5/6 conversations, you are setting 2 or 3 appointments per week you otherwise would not have had.
9. Have a “Hail Mary” strategy.
When all else fails, you have worked your process well and have reached the point of diminishing returns, use the gatekeeper as an ally. Explain what you want, offer to send a one-page pdf to explaining everything she can show to Ms. Decision-maker. You will call back in two days to see if Ms. big wants to meet. If she doesn’t, you won’t bug her again. You pick up appointments. Remember, your objective is to set appointments with high level people. That doesn’t mean you have to speak with them.