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How to Handle The Gatekeeper

I would love to hear your numbers and figures on this:

How many times have you picked up the phone to try to sell something, to be greeted by the person you were intended to speak with?

I would imagine the number would be quite low!

I have been making sales calls for years and although it does happen, it is rare I speak to the decision maker on the first attempt I call, and especially on the telephone number that is public.

Before we go on, allow me to let you in on a little secret; the person who picks up your sales call is the most important you can speak to. Allow me to repeat that:

The person who picks up your sales call is the most important you can speak to.

Sure, over the years many people have labelled this call answerer as ‘The Gatekeeper’; predominately because these people hold the power to turn you away, to close the gate, and stop you ever reaching the person you need to speak to. But not only are these people ‘Gatekeepers’, they are ‘GateOpeners’ if handled the right way.

Sales calls will never die out, and if you are reading this than the likelihood is that you understand how important it is to pick up the phone and to try to sell your products or services. Which is why I have pieced together some of my top tips on how to handle the gatekeeper, so you can get through to the person you need to and to sell effectively:

  • Respect

The people who answer phones in any business are perhaps some of the most respected and liked people in any business. Normally, they are the ones who have been there the longest and are on first name term with managers, directors and CEOs.

I always recommend to never treating these people with any form of disrespect, or assume they do not know anything, or assume they won’t help you.

  • Honesty

A good call taker always knows when they are being lied to, and know when someone is being dishonest – if you ever try to deceive a gatekeeper, they will pick up on it. Plus, they will go and tell the decision maker you are trying to do business with. And will they want to do business with someone who lies?

Instead, be open about who you are, why you are calling, and who you would like to speak to.  

  • Get Them Involved

The person on the other end of the phone is simply doing their job, and normally are there to help.  Now is your time to use your detective skills, and get them involved in the whole process. Sure, you don’t have to give them the full sales pitch, but simply ask them some questions that will help you to sell further down the line. Normally the person picking up the phone will know all of the pain points other team members experience in a business so can tell you what they need support with, and who to speak to.

  • Take Their Lead

When questioned well enough, a gatekeeper will always tell you the best next steps that you need to take to have a conversation with the decision maker. This could be the form of an email, a voicemail, a letter, or even calling back. No matter what the call taker tells you, heed their advice and act upon it. Not only will this give you a higher chance of speaking with whoever you are trying to reach, but will prove to the gatekeeper that you trust them, and you respect their decisions.

  • Develop That Relationship

Finally, as with anything in sales, the best approach to dealing with the gatekeeper is to develop a relationship with them. There is a chance you could be having weekly calls with this person over the course of a couple of months so try to get to know them; what’s their name? Do they have any pets? What are their hobbies? And so on. Sure, this could be seen as idle chit chat to some, and you will have to listen out to those do not like it, but if you develop a relationship with this gatekeeper then not only will they help you to get the result you want, but will also put a good word in for you too.

With years of experience in getting through to decision makers, and getting past gatekeepers, my team and are are always on hand to offer advice, or to support you by making those sales calls in the first place. If you think we can help in any way, please do get in touch; I would love to hear from you!

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