How to Turn the “Gatekeeper” Into Your Ally

How To Turn The "Gatekeeper" Into Your Ally

Getting Started…
“Gatekeepers” is the term that will be used to describe the person who is the decision-maker’s administrative assistant, receptionist or secretary, etc. Here is an obvious statement: “Gatekeepers” are human, and very important to remember. Their primary job is to protect the decision maker’s time. Despite what it might seem like, Gatekeepers do not try to get rid of ALL callers. Only those who are perceived to be time wasting “callers” with nothing of value to offer. Gatekeepers are qualifying you by asking themselves this question:

How To Turn The "Gatekeeper" Into Your Ally

“Does this person have anything of interest for the person who pays my salary?”

How To Turn The "Gatekeeper" Into Your Ally

The reason callers are interrogated, screened, and turned away is they have a threatening approach to the Gatekeeper. To achieve your goal of reaching the key decision-maker, you need to work with the Gatekeeper.

How To Turn The "Gatekeeper" Into Your Ally

Here Are Five Ways of Gaining Cooperation Between You and the Gatekeeper…
•Treat the Gatekeeper as You Would the Decision Maker.
You need to be as professional with the Gatekeeper as you would the decision maker. This person momentarily controls your destiny. (Keep in mind that it is their job to ask you questions.)

How To Turn The "Gatekeeper" Into Your Ally

•Give Full Identification.
Provide your first and last names, and your organization. It eliminates the inevitable, “May I tell her/him who is calling?”

How To Turn The "Gatekeeper" Into Your Ally

•Sound Confident.
Consider what you say and the way you say it. Numerous studies show you have no more than 20 seconds to make a favorable first impression. The Gatekeeper quickly forms an opinion of your perceived value to the decision-maker’s time.

•Build Rapport with the Gatekeeper.
Treat them as a human being. People do more for you when they LIKE you. Get the Gatekeeper’s name and use it when you greet her/him on the next call or visit. Remember they are your the first contact to the decision-maker.

•Justify Your REASON For the Call.
Every sales person hears this question, “What is this in reference to?”

Here Are Three Ideas On Opening a Conversation with the Gatekeeper…
•”My name is Cyndi with Zulu Office Supplies. I am calling because I have worked with other manufacturers in your industry, and we have put together a system to cut down on their time and expense of buying the routine office supplies used most frequently. I would like to ask Ms. Taboo a few questions to determine if this might make sense in your business.”

•”This is Geronimo with Mighty High Fliers. Let me explain why I am calling. We work with companies such as yours that send a lot of air express parcels. We have helped them cut down on their total shipping bills, and we have been saving them anywhere from a few dollars to a few thousand. Whether or not we can do the same for you depends on several variables that I would like to discuss with Mr. Shrink.”

•”Good morning, Jill. My name is Shawn with Unisource Marketing. I have some ideas I would like to share with Karen. This could be a low-cost source of new customers for you. To determine if these make any sense in your case, I will need to ask a few questions about your marketing strategy.”

Building Rapport with the Gatekeeper…
On my first conversation with the Gatekeeper, I try to be relaxed and to the point quickly. You will usually talk with the Gatekeeper the same way you speak with the decision maker. Being relaxed, confident and upfront with my purpose for calling allows the Gatekeeper to be certain you are asking for the right individual in the company. Start building rapport on the phone by introducing yourself and your company. Next, explain exactly why you want to briefly speak with the decision maker at this time and wait for a response.

Often, the assistant you are speaking with is very knowledgeable about who in the organization makes decisions that relate to your product. This person can then lead you through the maze of people in their company and refer you – – if you are clear and confident up front! I have been known to deliberately ask for the wrong decision maker in order to elicit the help of the assistant in referring me to the right person.

Meeting the Gatekeeper in Person…
When I meet the Gatekeeper in person, my approach is to be myself. Something that I found that helps break the ice is to bring their favorite cookie(s) or offer to buy them their favorite cola. Many assistants I meet crave the respect that usually passes over them to their boss. Be sensitive to an assistant’s schedule, personal interests and desire for snacks during the workday and you will have a partnership to REACH THE KEY DECISION MAKER.

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