One of the fundamental skills an entrepreneur must learn if they are to develop a successful business is the ability to get past the gatekeeper; in other words, the receptionist, personal assistant or secretary who stands between you and the key decision maker of a company.
Most influential people or business owners will establish some form of shield to safeguard their time and relieve workload pressure. This means your email, phone call or visit is likely to be wasted, unless you cultivate the skills which will enable you to bypass these defences.
Good salespeople tend to differentiate their voice so they don’t sound like they’re ringing from a call centre. Asking for the decision-maker’s first name will give the impression you’re already well acquainted.
A strong and professional tone will project an air of seniority and the gatekeeper may not wish to offend you by probing too deeply into your purpose for calling.
Successfully bypassing the gatekeeper involves more research on the prospect and fewer calls. You need to understand who you’re dealing with and identify an angle or common ground that effortlessly leads on to your message.
It’s important that during your research you identify the key decision-maker straightaway and make sure you talk to them otherwise your message is ultimately lost. Business owners should adopt a different strategy when communicating to corporate clients, SMEs or sole traders.
Be friendly with the gatekeeper and create a relationship. The more you can engage the gatekeeper, the more successful you will be at getting close to the decision maker. Ask the gatekeeper about the best time and method of contacting the decision-maker. Help the gatekeeper to look good in the business eyes of their boss by providing a solution to them.
Gatekeepers aren’t just there to field calls, their judgement can be key to providing added value to the decision maker’s business so their influence should be respected.
The first call should always be about research and not the sale. Gatekeepers will know and understand an organisation inside and out and will know who you should be talking to.
Friday afternoons are a good time to call especially if you want the senior decision maker.