“Can you give me some ideas on how to get past the gatekeeper?”

In every prospecting workshop I do, this question ranks as number one in frequency. I’ve never done a workshop where someone doesn’t ask it, so today I’ll give you some tips on dealing with it, along with a couple of other suggestions for telephone prospecting.

Gregory at Medtronic 10-2010 CroppedThe biggest challenge most prospectors have is mindset.  Instead of thinking, “This person is a colleague of my desired prospect and I should make every effort to make him or her a friend of mine,” they instead think, “This person is my dreaded enemy, trying to interfere with my job goals.”  Now that’s no way to think like your customer, is it?

I remember the old line, “How do you destroy your enemies?  Make them your friends.” So here’s what you should do.  First, get all the negative thoughts out of your head. Begin by losing the expression “gatekeeper.” This person is an administrative assistant and did not apply for the position of “gatekeeper.”  The job no doubt has a number of important duties aside from keeping you away from your prospect, so show some respect and consideration for the position.  Your prospect is important to you.  The admin works for the prospect.  Therefore the admin is important to you too.

On your first call, befriend the admin.  In my own calls I carefully and clearly spell out why I want to speak with the prospect and I tell it as if the admin is entitled to know the reason too, and I ask for help.  “Can you put me through with him?”

If I call a number of times and can’t get through, I tell the admin of my disappointment and apologize for taking up so much of his or her time.  “I seem always to be calling at the wrong time.  I feel bad, as I know you’re busy too, and yet you have been very patient with me.  I appreciate it.”

Then I ask for help.  “I’m sure you have better things to do than talk to me all the time, so let me ask you what you think I should do. Is there a better day or time of day when I could call when (prospect) is not so busy?  I’d appreciate it if you could suggest a better way to do this. I’m sure he would be pleased to speak with me if I just got him at the right time.”

I promise you that every experienced and successful salesperson does it exactly this way.  There are no tricks, manipulative tactics or bullying that are better than your simple, professional kindness to everyone you speak with in sales. Remember too, that once you land this prospect, you will rely on the admin for help throughout the relationship, and you can safely bet that the admin will recall very well how you conducted yourself in your early calls to the company.

There are no gatekeepers out there, only potential friends and customers, so…

Think Like Your Customer

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About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at www.actionsystemstraining.com.

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