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Getting past the Gatekeeper

Here are a few ideas about getting past the Gatekeeper:
  1. Make an allie - develop a relationship with the Gatekeeper. "Win friends and influence people".
  2. Introduction - use an introduction from a source the prospect knows and respects.
  3. Letter of Introduction - send a letter to the prospect a few days ahead of time introducing your offer and letting him or her know you'll be following up with a phone call.
Any more ideas? - by AZBroker
Call outside of regular business hours when the gatekeeper isn't in the office. :in - by Slick
If you have tried all of the above and are still not have success. Try to ask for the person in charge of account receivable. Companies always patch you through when you owe them money, then that person will put you right through most of the time.

(this may be a little underhanded, and I do not like to use it but if I have gone through all other options it will get around the gatekeeper)


Thoughts - by n1i1c2k5
All the talk is about getting past gatekeepers, but why do we salespeople have such a mindset.

Why do our prospects need "gatekeepers" in the first place.

I prefer to think of the person who answers the phone, or the assistant to the decision maker as just another person that I have to have a good rapport with. True there are some obnoxious people out there but then again I could say the same about this profession.

Is the real reason there are gatekeepers in the first place because there is a perception in salespeople's own minds that they have to get "through, round or generally hoodwink"to get to speak to another member of the team?

My best advice: treat everyone you speak to as the most important person and as your friend. Extend the hand of freindship and treat them as you would your best friend. You wouldnt try to trick your best friend now would you? - by Julian
Create an urgency. Instead of asking "Is Mr. Johnson in now?", say
"I need to speak with Mr. Johnson." (I've used this with great success in appointment setting where I said I needed to speak with the current head of cleaning services). - by Wonderboy
All the talk is about getting past gatekeepers, but why do we salespeople have such a mindset.

Why do our prospects need "gatekeepers" in the first place.

I prefer to think of the person who answers the phone, or the assistant to the decision maker as just another person that I have to have a good rapport with. True there are some obnoxious people out there but then again I could say the same about this profession.

Is the real reason there are gatekeepers in the first place because there is a perception in salespeople's own minds that they have to get "through, round or generally hoodwink"to get to speak to another member of the team?

My best advice: treat everyone you speak to as the most important person and as your friend. Extend the hand of freindship and treat them as you would your best friend. You wouldnt try to trick your best friend now would you?
That is an excellent post, Julian.

These days, most attempts to reach a decision maker lands you in voice-mail hell. Then, the best thing you can do is do not leave a voice mail message, but do find the gatekeeper. - by JacquesWerth
Back when I was doing telesales I always made a point of being nice to the gatekeeper.

It usually went somethign like this:

"Joe's garage, Sherry speaking, may I help you?"

"Hi Sherry, how are you doing today?"

"Fine"

"Just fine? not wonderful, outstanding or stupendous? I'm sorry to hear that!"

This usually got a laugh and then after a minute or two of small talk I could ask for the person in charge of local phone service.

Pat - by toolguy_35
Whether or not you befriend the gatekeeper or use another way to get in touch with the decision maker a sale is a sale. The fact remains that there is still a gatekeeper that has to be conquered in most cases. I have one at my store and most every business that we've dealt with has one.

Always be nice to everyone in the prospects company and try to get allies anywhere you can. But if by coming in a little early to call and get the owner before 8/9am and closing a sale 1 week early is smart business not a trick - by mikedoall
Try using only the decision maker's first name instead of Mr./Mrs. So-and-So and your first name only (no company name). For instance:

Gatekeeper: "Mr. So-and-So's office, this is Jennifer how may I help you?"

You: "Hi Jennifer, is John in?"

Gatekeeper: "Who's calling?"

You: "This is Steve."

Gatekeeper: "Let me check Steve."

The gatekeeper will either patch you right through or ask to take a message. If he/she asks to take a message, simply ask if there is a better time to call back then call back at that time and repeat the process. Leaving a message is optional although call back rates can be fairly good because you've aroused the curiosity of the decision maker. Just be sure to leave only your first name and phone number; nothing more as that will tip the gatekeeper off that it's not a personal call.

The gatekeeper generally won't push too hard if he/she believes the call may be personal in nature whereas they are trained to weed out salespeople "types." They don't want to offend, what might be, a personal friend of the decision maker's. You'd be amazed at how well this ultra simple tactic works.

Oh--if the gatekeeper actually asks you if the call is business or personal, it's personal! - by rogerbauer
Oh--if the gatekeeper actually asks you if the call is business or personal, it's personal!
What make the call personal Roger? - by Seth
That's up to you Seth. In all my interactions with gatekeepers, they've never pushed me for more detail beyond "personal." They're merely trying to get you weeded out or patched through so they can get back to their job as quickly as possible.

Don't over-think it. - by rogerbauer
Saying the call is personal when it's really business is deceptive which is not a good way to start a relationship even if you don't get caught. - by Calvin
One other point--you can toss out someone else's name if you're pushed for more detail. Such as "it's in reference to Bill Smith." Whether there is really a Bill Smith or not is irrelevant. The decision maker is going to be curious enough to take or return the call because they'd hate to NOT remember who Bill is.

Manipulative? Somewhat. Is this type of thing done semi-regularly? Definitely. Your objective when you call is to get through, right? Once you're in there, it's up to you to make it happen. - by rogerbauer
Saying the call is personal when it's really business is deceptive which is not a good way to start a relationship even if you don't get caught.
While I agree with you in moral principle, what are the odds of you getting "caught," and what is the worst thing that could happen? They'll hang-up on you which is probably where you would have been had you played everything close to the vest to begin with. Or worse yet, you'd have a message slip on the decision maker's desk stating a salesperson called which would land in the trash with no return call and little to no shot of getting through whenever you call back.

At least you'll have your answer one way or another with fewer calls by risking it a little bit. - by rogerbauer
... and what is the worst thing that could happen?
The worst thing that could happen is you compromise your integrity and potentially squander the opportunity to find a better, more ethical way of getting in front of your prospects. - by Liberty
How is your integrity compromised so badly by asking for someone by their first name as if it's a personal call versus using the typical scripted "professional" etiquette? Do you think gatekeepers don't know a sales call when they get one?

It's not illegal to ask for someone by their first name only so why not personalize (or warm up) the call a little? It's honestly none of the gatekeeper's business whether the call is business or personal if you stop and think about it. - by rogerbauer
Oh--if the gatekeeper actually asks you if the call is business or personal, it's personal!
One other point--you can toss out someone else's name if you're pushed for more detail. Such as "it's in reference to Bill Smith." Whether there is really a Bill Smith or not is irrelevant.
How is your integrity compromised so badly by asking for someone by their first name as if it's a personal call versus using the typical scripted "professional" etiquette?
The salesperson's integrity is compromised when he or she intentionally misrepresents the nature of the call. - by Liberty
So when I call and ask for "John" instead of "Mr. Smith," I'm intentionally misrepresenting the nature of the call?

If Mr. Smith's first name is John, I'm calling to speak with him so it's not like I'm misleading the gatekeeper by asking for someone else. I'm just asking for him by his first name instead of "Mr. Smith." For all I know, he may be "Dr. Smith" so I could be misrepresenting the nature of the call by asking for him as "Mr."

No offense Liberty, but I think you're over-analyzing this. I do get your point, but a crime will not be committed by asking for someone by their first name. If the gatekeeper thinks it's a personal call and puts you through, where's the real harm?

If you're uneasy stating it's a personal call when maybe it's not, simply don't do it. I could debate a solution that helps the decision maker look good is ultimately a personal issue (recognition, praise, value to the org., potential raise, etc.), but that might be stretching the boundaries based on what I've experienced here in my short time. ;) - by rogerbauer
So when I call and ask for "John" instead of "Mr. Smith," I'm intentionally misrepresenting the nature of the call?
Telling the gatekeeper that the call is personal when in fact it's business or that the call is in referrence to a non-existent individual "Bill Smith" amounts to trickery and deceit. - by Liberty
It’s not about what is legal, or whether or not you get caught in a lie.

Yes, there are some people who get away with all kinds of stuff and get very rich, like Trump (though his father was a wealthy Realtor). And, they get a lot of publicity, which make some people want to emulate them. However, most people who operate that way fail to make much of a dent.

My company studies the sales performance factors of the Top 1% of salespeople in 23 different industries, on three continents. The vast majority of them practice Total Disclosure in their business lives.

These salespeople are all pragmatists. Some are also idealists. Either way, what they do works so well that they typically earn $250k and up. And, they have a great deal of self-esteem.

Being straight with the people you deal with is just good business. - by JacquesWerth
The net of what I'm trying to say is if you can sound highly personable, your odds greatly improve. The choice is ultimately the individual's based on their preferences and style. As with any advice or opinion, the actual application can be adapted as necessary.

By the way, let me ask you all--do you think every buyer out there is 100% forthright at all times? If you think they are, I have some really nice Arizona beach-front land to sell you at an unbelievable price. ;) - by rogerbauer
By the way, let me ask you all--do you think every buyer out there is 100% forthright at all times? If you think they are, I have some really nice Arizona beach-front land to sell you at an unbelievable price. ;)
Duh, I donno. What do you think Roger?

How does that justify your willingness to use trickery and deceit?

Do you think that most people are too dumb to sense (intuitively)
that you cannot be trusted?

Do you think that buyers that are trustworthy, want to
buy from a salesperson they do not trust?

Do you think that top salespeople give up their dignity and self-respect in return for the hope of getting an appointment? - by JacquesWerth
Itís not about what is legal, or whether or not you get caught in a lie.

Yes, there are some people who get away with all kinds of stuff and get very rich, like Trump (though his father was a wealthy Realtor). And, they get a lot of publicity, which make some people want to emulate them. However, most people who operate that way fail to make much of a dent.

My company studies the sales performance factors of the Top 1% of salespeople in 23 different industries, on three continents. The vast majority of them practice Total Disclosure in their business lives.

These salespeople are all pragmatists. Some are also idealists. Either way, what they do works so well that they typically earn $250k and up. And, they have a great deal of self-esteem.

Being straight with the people you deal with is just good business.
I couldn't agree more. My honesty and integrity with my customers has kept me in business when a lot of tool men are going under. Why? Because they cheat their customers any way they can. They think customers are stupid. They aren't.

Dishonesty catches up with you sooner or later.

Pat - by toolguy_35
I'm glad you guys are 100% honest 100% of the time. That's truly admirable.

I am extremely upfront and honest with my clients, but I'm not going to sit on my high horse and claim that I've never tried a "trick" or two to gain access to them in the beginning when the stakes are high. That's just big business (like it or not). I've never been accused of deceit or trickery by a client during the sales process or negotiations either. I just choose to ask for people on the telephone as if I already know them and vice versa.

You might want to cover your eyes for this next part . . .
I've also used such trickery and deceit as attending trade shows and/or sporting events I believe prospects will attend and approaching them as if we've actually met before. I know that's extremely immoral, but it works. It's the weirdest thing! You all should try it sometime--treating people like they're an equal instead of acting as if they're better than you really can pay off.

Better watch your fall from the horse--you might hurt yourself. - by rogerbauer
Jacques,
Do you believe every decision maker sprints out to his assistant and asks "hey, that Roger guy that just called, how did he ask for me? Was it as if he knew me personally?" Or do you think every assistant runs in and says "Mr. Decision Maker, that Roger guy asked for you by your first name as if he knew you already. I don't think you should meet with him because of that."

Do you think their time is so worthless that they actually give a rat's about that kind of kindergarten crap? They're looking to improve their business; not police every sales rep that might call the joint wishing to speak to them. If I have a solution that will help them improve their business, they won't care how I asked for them on the first call so it becomes a moot point.

"Act as if you already are!" Or "fake it until you make it!" - by rogerbauer
If I have a solution that will help them improve their business, they won't care how I asked for them on the first call so it becomes a moot point.
If you have a solutions to improve the prospect's business but that prospect doesn't trust or respect you then your solution could easily become the moot point. The prospect can buy a similar solution from a different supplier that they do trust and respect. Like the others said, it isn't about whether you get caught it's about the intention, which has a way of showing itself, to manipulate or deceive. The ends don't always justify the means. - by BossMan
I guess I don't live in the bubble you guys must because I own my own business and could care less if people ask for me by my first name and seem to be personal friends to others when they're not. In fact, I prefer people to ask for me by my first name especially friends and clients. The substance of the call determines my ultimate impression; not the rep's means to get to me. My time is too valuable.

True story: If you cold called my business and asked to speak to "Mr. Bauer," you'd very likely be told "he isn't available, can I take a message?" even if I answered the phone myself. If you simply asked for "Roger," I'm more inclined to accept your call. One is obviously a cold call (i.e. a waste of time) while the other may be worth some of my time. Take it for what it's worth. - by rogerbauer
I guess I don't live in the bubble you guys must because I own my own business and could care less if people ask for me by my first name and seem to be personal friends to others when they're not.
The issue here as I see it isn't about whether a salesperson calls on a prospect by first name or not but whether a salesperson will cross the line of ethics or morals in order to further his or her own position. - by BossMan
You might want to cover your eyes for this next part . . .
I've also used such trickery and deceit as attending trade shows and/or sporting events I believe prospects will attend and approaching them as if we've actually met before. I know that's extremely immoral, but it works.
I should have covered my eyes. ;st - by Calvin
Our company has trained thousands of salespeople. Ninety-four percent of them have read our book and articles before they participated in our workshop. Therefore, they know that we advocate "total disclosure."

A very small percentage of them still ask, "Is it alright if I use a little trickery, but just to get the appointment?

Then, we explain that it is not a matter of whether they get caught, or not. It's that most prospects can tell intuitively whether you are someone they should trust, or not.

Most of the people who ask that question are very unhappy with our answers. It seams that none of them experience the level of increased sales that our average graduate achieves. - by JacquesWerth
Call outside of regular business hours when the gatekeeper isn't in the office. :in
This really does work. Some of the time :-) - by Ed McLean
Some of the time is better than none of the time. ;) - by rogerbauer
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