Gatekeeper realities & strategies.
How to work around, over and through gatekeepers to have conversations with top decision-makers?
The last few weeks as I have been working with individuals, companies and call centers, a very common theme of questions has centered around how best to deal with gatekeepers.
Here are 8 tips.
1. Never be adversarial.
At no time do you ever try to 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.
2. If your core strategy is to have a gatekeeper connect you to your target, you will lose. You must become adept at connecting with your targets without gatekeeper interaction.
3. 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.
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4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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 fax to her explaining everything she can show to Ms. Decision-maker. You will call her 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.
Best wishes for sales success,
copyright 2006-2012 scott channell