Cold Calling is Not Dead!
My experiences in getting “past the gatekeeper”
Gatekeeper? Yes, its real! Today we live in a world where information can be hard to come by even with the advancement in technology. With the advancement in technology companies and brands from large corporations to small local businesses can play hard to get in terms of selling a product or service. I remember as a kid watching the movie Monsters Inc. Great movie, but honestly it scared me at times the first time I watched it. Roz frightened me the most because of her unpleasant attitude towards everything. Now, I am not saying most gatekeepers are like this, however it can be a challenge to get around them. Roz also can be seen as one tough cookie to crack, which makes her great at her job. The modern day gatekeeper is only trying to be protective of information. This is great for companies, however this can be hard for sales.
During my time as a Account Executive and Social Strategy Intern at a local Chicago Advertising Agency I learned all about the game of “getting past the gatekeeper” and studied it like a book. It took lots of failure and having to go back to the drawing board to create new scripts. Through all that adversity I learned what strategies worked and what strategies needed improvement. Below are some of my key takeaways for getting past the gatekeeper and booking that meeting with your next client. Before you make that call though it is important to keep two things in mind. The gatekeeper has two goals. 1: Keeping the wrong person away from the boss and 2: Allowing the right person to see the boss.
- The one who asks the questions is the one who controls the call (redirect with a question). Take control. Your are the one making the call, so if you continue to ask questions the better. Gatekeeper are busy people to, so if you ask enough they might budge.
- Script your original message in under 30 seconds. No need to go overboard. I have found that if you need more than 30 seconds it probably wasn’t a good message anyway and needs refining.
- Use humor; it works! The gatekeeper has most likely been getting calls all day. Spice their day up a bit.
- Keep your relationships with gatekeepers strong by setting reminders to reconnect. If it doesn’t work out for some reason create a log and come back. You are not in the business of burning bridges.
- Knowing the gatekeeper’s communication style can make it easier for you to personalize your communication. Do your research on the company. Email? Call? Social Media?
- After finding out the gatekeeper's first name stick to it! Sounds so simple, but it’s extremely effective. Asking for a decision-maker by their first name gives the impression that you know this individual and have a right to speak with them.
- Patience, Persistence, and Respect. When you think about it, the better they are at keeping pushy or irrelevant salespeople out, the better they are at doing their job. Remember you are proving value to them.
The most important reminder you need before your call is to be excited and passionate about what you do. Be proud to represent your work and be confident in what you can do for their company. Lack of passion kills deals. You entire goal with this meeting is to dig into their needs and find an opportunity. Ask them how their weekend went, how there week is going, how their summer is going, how their holiday was, etc. Don’t fluff too much here but say something that shows you’re a human and not a sales robot.