In sales, there’s almost nothing more frustrating than the gatekeeper. In a perfect world, you’d be able to reach out to the potential clients and talk to them directly, without anyone interfering. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. Gatekeepers are there to screen the communication and to keep away the people their boss doesn’t want to talk to.
If you’ve been trying to close the deal, but keep running into gatekeepers, don’t worry. There are a few proven methods you can use to get past them. Try out the strategies below, and you should find that you’re able to get by any gatekeepers you come across a little easier.
Do Your Research
The first thing you should do is research. It’s hard to get past the gatekeeper if you don’t know anything about the company. Imagine calling up the company, and having the phone answered by an executive assistant. In an attempt to talk directly to the head of the company, you start listing the different advantages of your product. The only problem is none of those advantages address what the company is looking for.
In a situation like this, the person answering the phone is unlikely to pass you along to someone higher up. You need to quickly demonstrate that you know what that company is about, what they might be looking for and that your product/service is the solution.
How do you do the research?
You have a few options.
Start your search online and learn everything you can about the company. Visit their website and take note of who works there, their past projects, or what sort of products they provide. If your service is web development or internet marketing, you could check out the website itself, such as the quality of the design and how well the copy is written. You can learn a lot through a company’s website, so spend a lot of time there.
When you are done with learning about the company, do research on the competitors of the company.
- What are their pain points?
- Who is their ideal customer?
- What is their budget?
You can even track their competitors with a tool like Competitors.app to see what their competition is up to, so you can give some valuable information to your potential customer.
You can learn a lot about a company just by searching for them online and studying their competitors. The more information you can gather before you make your first phone call, the better your chances are of getting past the gatekeeper.
Go Around the Gatekeeper
Sometimes, even if you’re well-prepared, the gatekeeper still won’t let you through. In situations like this, you should consider going around them.
One way to do this is by getting a referral. Getting a referral from a mutual connection is a great way to get your foot in the door with some added credibility.
If you can’t get a referral directly to the top, consider approaching someone lower on the company hierarchy. It’s often easier to get by the gatekeeper if you have a champion inside the company – someone who can mention you to the boss. See if you already know someone inside the company, but if not, reach out to any employee and ask for an introduction. If they help you schedule a meeting or a call with an executive, and all goes well for both parties, it will reflect nicely back onto the employee.
The third method for going around the gatekeeper is to use multiple approaches. If calling them on the phone doesn’t work, consider sending them an email or engage with them using a video. When that doesn’t work, connect with them on social media. Use whatever approach method you can think of until you get a definitive answer. Just don’t overdo it – no one wants to be pestered after saying “no”.
Be Professional with the Gatekeeper
Finally, don’t assume that the gatekeeper is there to make your life harder. Gatekeepers are there to help, and are just doing their jobs. Always remember to be professional. You’re more likely to get through if you are genuine about what you have to offer, and if you are kind to the person on the other end of the phone. As an added bonus, even if they don’t let you through now, they may save your information for use in the future.
What to do Once You’re Past the Gatekeeper
You spent hours researching the company, finding multiple ways to contact the head of a company, and charming the gatekeeper. It finally paid off, and you were put through. Now what?
Getting past the gatekeeper is just the first part of the battle. Now you want to make sure you close the deal and all that hard work to get to the decision maker has paid off. There’s a lot that goes into developing a good sales pitch, but there are two main underlying strategies you’ll want to use.
First, form a connection with the prospecting client. Ask to set up a lunch, or at least a face-to-face meeting. Go in relaxed, and try to have some casual conversation before you jump into your pitch. You want the person you’re talking to, to feel at ease and to trust you. They can’t do this if you’re all business, that’s why it’s better to keep things light at the beginning of the meeting.
Have your strategy all planned out. When you make your first call, prepare as if you will be put through to the person in charge. You only have one chance to make a first impression, and if you’re unprepared it won’t go well. Have a list of all the points you want to talk about, all the information about the company you gathered as a reminder, and come up with some answers to questions might get.
Don’t Let Gatekeepers Slow You Down
You have sales to close, so don’t let someone stand in your way and slow you down. Whatever you are selling a product or a service the strategy is the same. The key to getting by is persistence, being prepared and professional. Combine all three and the gatekeepers won’t be an obstacle anymore.