Have you ever tried to ring up a prospect that you’re convinced is a hot lead, only to be blocked by their receptionist? It can be highly frustrating when your carefully crafted pitch (that has taken days to prepare) doesn’t go further than the front desk and you are denied access to the company’s decision maker.
As a digital agency, when it comes to B2B lead generation, you will find that you come across gatekeepers a lot – even if you didn’t realize it until now. If you don’t know what a gatekeeper is let’s define what they are:
“A junior officer (such as a secretary), who has the authority or ability to control access to a decision maker or to certain information.” BusinessDictionary.com
So how can you avoid falling into the chasm between gatekeeper and decision maker? Well to start with, you will need to learn how to effectively navigate your way through the gatekeeper’s screening process.
Here are some top tips:
When making first impressions with a gatekeeper – always be polite and respectful. This could be your one and only chance of getting through to the decision maker. Ensure your tone of voice is pleasant and even if you feel that they are stalling you, remain calm and professional. DO NOT become pushy or disrespectful as this could mean you’ll never ever get through to the decision maker.
Try to build a relationship with the gatekeeper. The decision maker could be genuinely busy on the day you call and you may have to ring back. By having rapport, the gatekeeper may well positively remember you and feel more inclined to help you. If you feel that it is appropriate, it can be a good idea to give your first name and find out theirs. This helps you become familiar with each other and warms up the cold call.
When speaking to a gatekeeper, try to be concise. For instance, receptionists receive numerous ‘sales’ calls all day every day and they have heard it all before. So try to keep your sales talk to a minimum and save that for the person you need to sell to. However, don’t try and pretend that you aren’t a sales person. Gatekeepers are very good at profiling their callers/visitors and they don’t like to be tricked.
The gatekeeper is someone with inside knowledge of both the business and the decision maker so use this to your advantage. Ask the gatekeeper for advice on how best to approach the decision maker, as this shows that you value their knowledge and trust their opinion. This can also help you find out the right questions to ask when you get through to the decision maker.
Avoid the Gatekeeper Altogether
If, after trying all the above, you find yourself no nearer to speaking with the decision maker – it might be time to try and avoid speaking to the gatekeeper altogether. To do this, you need to know who the decision maker is within the company and then connect with them.
A great place to make this connection is on a social platform, such as LinkedIn. However, just connecting or befriending someone isn’t enough; you need to actually reach out to this person. The best way to start this communication is to ask a few industry specific questions and ask for their advice. Tell them you feel their expertise in that specific field puts them in the best position to answer. Schedule a call with them to discuss the topics and this way you do not need to go through the gatekeeper.
You may think that you could do this all the time and remove the gatekeeper completely but sometimes business professionals do not deal with people over social media – so you are back to having to phone the company.
How do you deal with gatekeepers? If you have one, why not talk to your gatekeeper and get an inside view on their screening process.