How to Get Past the Gatekeeper – Every salesperson knows how it feels to get stonewalled by a gatekeeper in sales. Gatekeepers keep many salespeople up at night, and for good reason: If you can’t get past the gatekeeper, then you can’t make the sale. It’s as simple as that.
Strangely, gatekeepers are usually the nicest people you’ll interact with at a company. They know how to innocently ask dreaded questions like, “May I ask what this call is about?” and “Is my boss expecting your call?” Then, they’ll sweetly tell you that your prospect isn’t available right now—but they’ll happily take a message.
Dead-end interactions like this are the bane of every salesperson’s existence. But, luckily, there are three proven ways to get past the gatekeeper—and through to your high-level prospect.
In this video, I’m going to show you exactly how to deal with a gatekeeper in sales. Check it out:
How to Get Past the Gatekeeper Tip #1: Always go around the gatekeeper.
If you’re wondering how to get past the gatekeeper in sales, here’s the number one way to do it: Go around the gatekeeper. There’s no reason to go through gatekeepers if you can avoid them altogether. The way we do that is by calling at times when the gatekeeper actually isn’t in the office. Let’s look at the schedule of typical gatekeepers. They’re usually nine-to-fivers, and they’re generally administrators. They’re not people who have bottom-line responsibilities at the companies where they work. Their bonuses are based on more arbitrary indicators, such as whether they’ve done well at their job.
Because of the way gatekeepers are compensated, and the type of jobs they have, they’re typically not at the office before 8:30 in the morning. And they’re usually not there at 6:30 at night. They’re also not there on Saturdays. But you know who is at the office at all those times? Your high-level prospect. Therein lies the key to how to get past the gatekeeper.
Since high-level prospects are bonused based on the performance of the organization, they’re very likely to be at the office at 8:00 in the morning, still there at 7:00 at night, and even there on Saturdays. So, you can get to those decision-makers, those economic buyers, by just avoiding the gatekeepers altogether. Call your prospects early. Call them late. Try them on the weekend. That’s exactly how to get past the gatekeeper. Once you implement this tip for how to get past the gatekeeper, you’re going to be amazed at how many times you can actually just avoid the gatekeeper altogether, and get through to the decision maker. Decision makers have a lot less going on during these times, because there are fewer distractions early in the morning, late at night, or even on Saturdays.
How to Get Past the Gatekeeper Tip #2: Be firm.
Here’s how to get past the gatekeeper if you simply can’t avoid going through them. The first key idea is that you should be very firm when speaking with a gatekeeper. Put yourself in the mindset of typical gatekeepers, who have two competing responsibilities: 1. They don’t want to let a salesperson through to their boss. 2. They don’t want to keep the right person from getting through to their boss. What I mean by that is that sometimes a CEO or a VP is expecting a call from someone important, and gatekeepers never want to accidentally block that caller.
Since gatekeepers are so nervous about accidentally keeping out those important contacts, you should use that to your advantage. Keep them on their toes when you call. A typical salesperson is going to come across as schmoozy, friendly, overly nice, and gentle when talking to a gatekeeper. I challenge you to be the exact opposite. Don’t be rude, but be firm and authoritative.
For example, the next time you get a gatekeeper on the phone, rather than saying, “Hey Darren, how are you today?! Marc Wayshak here, calling for George,” just be firm and say, “Yes, Darren, Marc Wayshak calling for George.” If you use this approach for how to get past the gatekeeper, you’ll make the gatekeeper think, “Oh wow. This sounds like an important person. Maybe I should put the call through.”
How to Get Past the Gatekeeper Tip #3: Be vague when asked questions.
A lot of gatekeepers are pros, especially if you’re calling on high-level prospects such as the CEO of a Fortune 1000 company, or even a VP at a Fortune 1000 company. Even when you’re firm, they’re still going to start asking you questions. You need to be prepared for those questions in order to master how to get past the gatekeeper.
A typical question from a gatekeeper might be, “May I ask where you’re calling from?” Now if you say, “Oh, well, I’m calling from ABC Company,” you’re immediately done. You’re dead in the water. Instead, be vague in your response. Answer the question in a way that’s going to throw the gatekeeper off a little bit. Next time the gatekeeper asks, “Where are you calling from?” simply say, “Boston,” or whatever city you’re in. Your goal is to let gatekeepers fear that you’re an important person.
Now, a lot of people who are reading this tip about how to get past the gatekeeper are saying to themselves, “Whoa, that’s really intense.” But it’s actually not. If you aren’t able to get around the gatekeeper in the first place, you have nothing to lose. Again, I’m not suggesting that you’re ever rude or mean, because gatekeepers are nice people and they deserve respect. But if you want to get through those gatekeepers, you need to play the game. Let them always be nervous that you are an important person.
So, there you have it. Now you know how to get past the gatekeeper in sales.Which of these approaches are you going to start using today? I want to hear from you. Be sure to share below in the comments section. I’ll respond to every comment that I possibly can.
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About the Author Marc Wayshak
Marc is is the best-selling author of three books on sales and leadership, including the highly acclaimed titles Game Plan Selling, The High-Velocity Sales Organization and his forthcoming book, Sales Conversations, Mastered.
Marc is a contributor to Inc, HubSpot, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Huffington Post Business. He also hosts a popular YouTube channel on sales strategy with over 103,000 subscribers.
Marc helps thousands of people his data-driven, science-based approach to selling that utilizes all the best tools available to sales organizations today.