This is a Guest Blog Post by Jeffrey Gitomer
The gatekeeper is the only person in a company who’s job it is to turn you away, interrogate you, and tell you why you can’t rather than how you can. (with the possible exception of the accounting department, but that’s another day’s story).
What the gatekeeper needs to understand is: that the person in front of them could also be a customer or be best friends with your biggest one. Many of them fend people off – many more of them offend people off.
It’s up to the gatekeeper to understand that she or he represents the entire company, and that “friendly and helpful” are always the order of the day.
What the salesperson needs to understand is: that you have no birthright to see someone or be seen. Gatekeepers have heard it all before – every line, every tactic.
It’s up to the salesperson to be creative, and innovative. Humor plays an important part in this. The old sales adage: “If you can make ‘em laugh, you can make ‘em buy,” still applies today.
Wanting to know a sure–fire way to get around the gatekeeper every time? Wake up and smell the mouse pad. There is no one way. BUT, if you are a student of creativity, there is always a way – just not the same way each time.
Here are two philosophies to think about and strategies to try:
Try to see a bigger picture. Why go to the gatekeeper at all? If you stand out in the parking lot or the hallway and ask anybody else in the entire company, they’ll take you where you want to go. The gatekeeper is the only person whose job it is to tell you ‘no.’ Everyone else will help you.
Reality Question: What are your alternatives to the gatekeeper and the cold call?
If you must go to the gatekeeper, be intriguing. Let’s say you want to sell a cell phone. You walk in, have cell phone in your hand, and say to the secretary, “I’d like to give your boss a call on this special phone. Would you give it to him please?” Now, she doesn’t even know you name, but you just told her what to do. At least half (the people you approach using this method) will do it automatically. The other half will put you through on the normal wringer.
Reality Question: Are you the least bit intriguing or creative in your approach?
Gatekeeper Sales Tactics And Realities
- If you ask “who is in charge of…” they will immediately be on guard.
- If you don’t know the person’s name you’re calling on, they will immediately be on guard.
- If you ask them if they can do something for you, their answer will determine your fate. If they say yes, you can get to the next step.
- Disarm her, don’t try to charm her. Ask her a question that she has to go to the boss for the answer – or at least go to someone else. Questions like: Who is in charge of making sure that all employees are happy and stay on the job longer? Or: I’d like to speak to the person who is in charge of your company’s image.
- Challenge them with a test and a prize. “I have a 30–second test I’d like you to take about the travel reservations you make – if you get it right you win a weekend for two in our hotel. Have you ever stayed in one of our hotels?”
- Best Approach: Ask for someone in sales. There will be no screen. Then ask the salesperson for help or to direct you to the person who you wanted to see. (personal note: I have used this many times and it works)
Note well: Your name and who you represent are the least important aspect of the presentation. They don’t care about you. They don’t care if you drop dead in their office. They only care about getting their needs met….
The key is to engage. If you walk in and give the gatekeeper your name and business card, how have you engaged anyone so far? You’ve only annoyed her and put her on guard.
Get creative, get funny, get engaging… get in. Otherwise you’ll be asked to get out.
Free GitBit…Want to learn three more strategies to get around gatekeepers? I know they work because I’ve used them personally. If you would like the list, just go to www.gitomer.com (register if you’re a first time visitor) and enter the word GATEKEEPER in the GitBit box.
About the Author
Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of several books, including The Sales Bible, and The Little Red Book of Selling, on sales, business, and personal development. He is the president of Charlotte-based BuyGitomer, and frequently gives seminars and conducts internet training programs on selling, customer service, sales management and leadership.
[Bonus points for guessing the blog post image]