Ask any PPC agency owner how hard it is to reach the decision-makers in a company, and they’ll tell you the truth.
It’s a nightmare. A real field of screams.
Most salespeople know that behind every decision-maker looms a gatekeeper.
Gatekeepers are hardy. They’re the equivalent of London bouncers on the lookout for fake IDs. No matter how hard you push, you’re never going to get past.
A gatekeeper’s job is to screen all their boss’ calls and make sure nothing or no one is going to waste their time. The slightest suspicion will put them into “lockdown” mode, and you can tell from bitter experience that they’re not going to budge.
Or will they? In this video, our Campaigns Manager, Milo, will share his top tips on how to get past the dreaded gatekeepers and strike up contact with the clients you’re after.
So, first thing’s first…
Don’t Script. Plan.
Hand Brad Pitt a sales script, and he still couldn’t get past a gatekeeper.
No matter how good an actor you may be, the gatekeeper’s ears are finely attuned to any sales jargon read off a piece of paper. Your voice won’t sound natural. It’s all too rehearsed. Just when you think you’re getting somewhere, the gatekeeper will say something like, “thanks. I’ll pass your details on.”
Read: “I haven’t even bothered to get out a pen”.
Instead of scripting every single word, pause and cough, make a plan with some bullet points. This will keep you on track during the phone call, and you’ll leave more room for improvisation. You’ll sound much more natural and, even better, it’ll be as if you radiate confidence. The gatekeeper will gladly stand aside to let a master do his work.
I’ve heard some sales pitches come across more as verbal begging letters.
Have confidence in your offer. Remember, it’s not the client helping YOU, but the other way around. Your services are valuable, and viewing yourself as an asset is the best way to get the gatekeepers and decision-makers to see you as one too.
Ask for the gatekeeper’s name and write it down. Next time you call, ask for them specifically, and you can start building a rapport.
Verbally signal that the decision-maker is either expecting or will appreciate your call. Keep it confident and avoid sounding desperate. This will help you to avoid triggering a defensive response from the gatekeeper.
No matter how confident you sound, I bet you’re feeling the pressure.
Even though I sound like I’m in control, I can feel my heart beating in my mouth. My stomach’s in knots. All I can think about is closing.
Basically, I need to chill the hell out. Some level of rejection is inevitable in this game, and freaking out over the phone isn’t going to help an agency’s reputation.
So, I started looking at things differently. Instead of dwelling on the “no’s” and beating myself up, I started thinking of every “no” as taking a step closer to a “yes”.
Going into a phone call without the right mental preparation is a recipe for disaster. If you’re feeling the pressure (as in, your voice is shaking, and you’re actively sweating), take 5 minutes. Go for a walk, make a cup of tea, or have a conversation with your favourite funny co-worker.
These little acts of mindfulness will make you a wizard on the phone.
If you don’t leave a good impression with the gatekeeper, you may as well bin that number.
Even if the gatekeeper is reluctant to hand you over to the decision-maker on the first call, a positive impression will only help you the next time.
It should go unsaid, but remember basic manners like “please” and “thank you”. Good manners are a way of showing other people that we have respect for them.
Remind the gatekeeper that they’re important to you, and this will go a long way.
Against the voices of your inner paranoia, a gatekeeper doesn’t make it a goal to screen everyone out. They just want to pass on the best and most accurate information to their boss.
Keep it sweet with the gatekeeper, and they’ll put you where you want to be. Respect their role, ‘cus – until you get to the real decision-maker – the gatekeeper is the only decision-maker that matters.