9 gatekeeper do’s and don’ts
The gatekeeper doesn’t have to be the bane of a salesperson’s existence. If you handle gatekeepers correctly, they can even be a resource. Let’s find out more.
If you sell, you’ve probably struggled with gatekeepers before. Gatekeepers are the people who stand between you and the decision-maker you want to speak to, often receptionists or assistants. Their job is to put only the callers through that the decision-maker wants to talk to. Most of the time, that means no salespeople.
Getting stuck at the gate means you don’t get to begin a relationship with your prospect, you never get to pitch and you don’t get the deal. So, how do you get past the gatekeeper and through to the decision-maker? Here are nine do’s and don’ts for getting past gatekeepers.
1 – Do demonstrate value
The easiest way to get past the gatekeeper is to show them that what you want to talk about will provide value to the decision-maker, rather than being just another cold caller with a product.
The best way to demonstrate value is by researching your prospect before you make the call. Know exactly who you want to speak to and how you can solve their problem. Then, when you’re on with the gatekeeper, you will stand out from the other cold callers they speak to.
2 – Don’t fall out with them
Whatever you do, don’t get into an argument with the gatekeeper. If you do, you’ll never get to speak to the decision-maker. Instead, try and build some rapport.
Always be polite and respectful. Sound like you’re happy to speak to them. If you know their name, use it.
3 – Don’t lie
A lie might get you past the gatekeeper once, but they won’t fall for it twice. In any case, most of them will know if you’re lying to them. Be honest about who you are, the company you’re calling from and what you want.
However, when you speak directly and with confidence to your gatekeeper, they might think you’re more senior than you actually are, which never does any harm!
4 – Do warm up your lead first
If a decision-maker doesn’t know who you are, it’s much easier for them to ask their gatekeeper to say they’ll get back to you (which you know they never will).
So, before you call, get your name in front of the decision-maker. Interact with them on social media (it’s part of your research). Send them an email that demonstrates your value. Then, when you call, there’s a good chance the decision-maker will be expecting you.
5 – Don’t sell
Your gatekeeper isn’t a decision-maker. They are dealing with different problems in their life than your decision-maker. There’s a good chance they have no idea what you do or why it provides value. So, don’t pitch to them.
Instead, explain clearly and directly the reason you’re calling. Then, if they ask you further questions, answer them without being evasive.
6 – Do be confident
While staying on the right side of respectful, you must sound confident with your gatekeeper. Otherwise, you’ll come across like another cold caller who is out of their depth. Do everything you can to control the conversation and demonstrate your value. Again, a lot of this will come down to the research you do before you call.
Some sales trainers recommend making jokes with your gatekeeper or starting a conversation with them to try and charm your way through. Others recommend going for the sympathy vote. My advice is, only try this if you’re extremely funny and charming. If not, you’re probably wasting your gatekeeper’s time when they’ve got their own work to do!
7 – Do use them as a resource
If you build up a rapport with your gatekeeper, you may be able to tap them up for some helpful information. For example, you could try asking whether their company already uses a solution like the one you sell or if they already deal with a competitor.
You could also ask them for practical advice on reaching the decision-maker, such as when the best time to call is, or if they’re definitely the best person to speak to.
8 – Do go around them
You can’t win every time. Sometimes you will encounter a gatekeeper who is more like a brick wall and will never put you through. But, if you believe you can genuinely provide value to this prospect, there are other ways.
If you have a high-quality data platform in your organisation, you might be able to find the decision maker’s direct line, or even their mobile number. If you’ve got their email address or are connected on LinkedIn, you may have more success reaching them through those channels.
9 – Don’t give up
Don’t be put off if your first few calls end up stuck at the gate. The more you keep trying, the more chance you have of getting through. (Maybe that sympathy vote works after all!)
Try at different times of the day, perhaps earlier or later when the gatekeeper may not be around. Use as many other channels as you can to try and get that conversation.
Remember, it takes an average of 8 cold calls to reach a decision-maker. That means you shouldn’t give up until at least 16. Good luck!
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