“Hello My name is Matt how may I direct your call?” We all know that the gatekeeper is always lurking especially for those of us that are in the sales industry. I have spent countless hours over my lifetime in sales; talking, networking, and getting stopped by the gatekeepers.
One major thing to understand before we move forward is that gatekeepers are like the offensive lineman for the executives. It is their job to block those would be “rushers” from getting to the “QB.”
These 3 tips are the tools that will help you become a better sales rusher to the CEO’s and CFO’s that make the decisions and the ones that sign your checks at the end of every week, month, quarter, and year.
Tip Number 1: This tip is for those that get this gatekeeper rebuttal response, “I’m sorry he/she is on the other line can I take a message and direct you to his/her voicemail?” Your response should be this… “Thank you, did you say your name was Mandy?” We will use Mandy throughout these examples as that of the gatekeeper. “Ok great Mandy, it is a pleasure speaking with you and thank you for letting me know he/she is on another important call, do you mind if I ask you two quick questions?”
This is important because you want to build rapport with the gatekeeper and actually close Mandy on you first as she is the current direct line to your end goal which is to get to the decision maker. So in a sense, she is the decision maker right now on making that connection.
Question #1, “So that I keep you available to answer other calls what is his/her extension in case I get disconnected during the transfer?” You are building commitment from the gatekeeper and building a study guide of just how accessible the decision maker is with this question.
Question #2, “Mandy you have been great and thank you for transferring me to his/her voicemail, is email or voicemail a better way to actually communicate with him/her?”
Another commitment question here that will not only strengthen your relationship with the gatekeeper but will get you multiple points of contact that keeps the gatekeeper from being the first point of contact. You now have direct contact to the end user that will make that decision.
I call this one the “acknowledge push” because you are acknowledging the control the gatekeeper has in this situation; however pushing through to the decision maker and taking back control. This is perhaps my favorite Tip because I normally give the decision maker time to either get off of his/her call or become available to actually pick up the transfer, worst case scenario I’m leaving a voicemail any way.
Tip Number 2: This tip is for those that get this gatekeeper rebuttal, “I’m sorry he/she is currently out of the office can I take a message or direct you their voicemail?”
Now muscle memory will tell you to go to the response number one here; however, that will not work due to the fact that the gatekeeper holds the ultimate trump card here because the decision maker is not in the building. You will default back to this response prior to hanging up with the gatekeeper but this is what you MUST do first. “Mandy right?” “Mandy, thank you again for taking my call and letting me know he/she is currently out of the office, who is the next direct contact there in the office when he/she is out?”
Your goal is to get to a live person that you can plant seeds with not leave messages with. By asking this question you have immediately identified to the gatekeeper that there has to be someone accountable for the productivity of the office while the decision maker is away and more times than not you will get that contact.
Many of you are saying well what if the decision maker is a one man/woman person for all things? I’m glad you are thinking that question. In that case you would follow with this, “Mandy thank you so very much for your time before I go I have some important information that I would like to get to him/her and if I know most decision makers I’m not the only one that has called to leave a voicemail or email, what is the mobile number I could call to leave him/her a message there as well?”
This is the “persistent push” by putting the gatekeeper on the defensive is a great way to continue to build a relationship and once again getting multiple points of contacts. Here is where you would also verify extension number and email address for backup ways to contact decision maker.
Tip Number 3: This tip is for when the gatekeeper puts you through to the decision maker. Now this is what every sales rep is wanting from the call; and, that is to get to the decision maker. So how many of you have gotten through only to hear the decision maker say “I’m gonna transfer you back to Mandy she handles my schedule and will get you an appointment set?” If this has happened to you then this tip is going to be a game changer for you and one that you MUST use.
In the event that you get this response from the decision maker use this response. “Thank you for taking my call today and in respect to your busy schedule I will be happy to schedule an appointment with Mandy; however, I wanted to make sure that I had the correct person on the line when scheduling my follow up appointment, will you or Mandy be making the decision on the product that I am offering?” Now this question is one that must be used delicately and delivered while you are smiling.
This will interject a level of control on your end and also force a reactionary response from the decision maker to take back authority that you indirectly gave to the gatekeeper. Once the decision maker has responded with “He/She is the decision maker” you then have your calendar ready for the next questions. “Thank you I’m glad I was correct in knowing I was speaking with the right person, I will be in your area tomorrow at 9am and would like to stop by and meet with you then how does that look for you on the calendar?”
Schedule the appointment, thank him/her for their time and wrap it up with confirming again their appointment time and make sure you have the proper follow-up contact information phone, extension, mobile, and email. I call this the “executive push” because you are using his/her position of power to gain control of setting the appointment and giving them the opportunity to take back authority.
There is an outlining message of consistency throughout these three tips and that’s not settling for letting the gatekeeper simply tell you whatever he/she “thinks” but yet finding out what he/she “knows.”
At the same time, you are walking away from all three tips with multiple points of contact and a much better relationship built with the gatekeeper.
The importance of these three tips is that everyone will have an opportunity to use them and should use them when they present themselves. I have seen my close ratio go up by 30% by simply using these three tips to get passed the gatekeeper and by being able to avoid having to go back through the gatekeeper.
The ultimate goal is to get to the decision maker and the only way you are truly going to do that is to GET to the decision makers and stop WANTING to get through to them. Use these three tips and watch how you become a PRO at handling the gatekeeper.
Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.