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Get Past the Gatekeeper Every Time

Several months ago I had one of my favorite sales experiences. While on a consulting gig at a processing company, I asked for a list of prospects who had already told someone in the room “No.” This would be people already entered in the CRM as “not interested.” My goal was to inspire those […]


Several months ago I had one of my favorite sales experiences.  While on a consulting gig at a processing company, I asked for a list of prospects who had already told someone in the room “No.”  This would be people already entered in the CRM as “not interested.”  My goal was to inspire those in the room with the power of sales and being good at sales.  I wasn’t trying to sell anyone necessarily.  Rather, I had hopes of interesting some of these prospects and then giving them to another sales person again.  I used the list and did some calling on speaker phone.

The first challenge, as always, is getting past the gatekeeper.  In this episode I will give some keys which will guide you through every single time.  At that meeting I probably talked to twelve or fifteen different people.  I don’t believe there was a single instance when I couldn’t get past the gatekeeper.  Let me help you know what to say and when you’ve said enough.  Sometimes silence is golden!  Usually the gatekeeper is more of an issue when you’re calling than walking in.

Following are some keys to success in getting past the gatekeeper:

#1.  Always start off talking as if you are a customer.  Do that for as long as possible.  Open conversation by saying, “Hi.  My name is James Shepherd.  How are you guys today?”

#2.  Get the name of the person to whom you should speak.  You could say, “I’m a local business owner and want to drop off a business card and introduce myself as another local business owner.  To whom should I talk when I stop by?”  In sales, you always need to work through a process to accomplish the goal.  The first step is to get a contact name.  Use a process so you can track your progress.  And to know where the pitch is falling apart is vital in order to improve yourself.

#3.  Use short quick statements followed by silence once you’ve gotten the contact name.  The gatekeeper may say, “Well, you really want to ask for Kevin.  But…[whatever is said after this is unimportant.]”  Your next response is, “Oh great!  Is Kevin in?”  Then remain absolutely silent, waiting for the gatekeeper to break the silence.  The gatekeeper is usually rattled by this approach and unsure how to proceed.  He/she will say, “Uh, well, he’s in the back.  I’m not sure.  I really can’t have him come to the phone right now.”  At this point you very nicely but confidently and quickly reply, “Oh, I’ll hold.  Thank you.”  Notice the short replies.  And always silence afterward, waiting for the gatekeeper to break the silence.

#4.  Use the words “thank you.”  Thank people for what you wish them to do, even when they haven’t agreed to do it yet!  Sometimes you’ll hear, “No, he/she can’t come to the phone right now.”  But very often you get the surprising reply, “Uh, hold on a second.”  The person is summoned!

#5.  Be persistent.  The gatekeeper may return to the phone and say, “I talked to Kevin.  He’s in the back, but he can’t talk right now.”  My reply would be, “Oh, that’s no problem.  Should I call back in like a half hour or give him an hour to finish what he’s doing?”  SILENCE.  Gatekeeper:  “Well, really you need to give him at least a couple of hours.”  The gatekeeper tries this to “push even further.”  However, at this point I’m just trying to get a contact, no matter if I need to wait a day!”  Before hanging up, I say, “No problem at all.  Let Kevin know I’ll call him back in a couple hours.  Also, just tell him I really appreciate it.  I’m looking forward to introducing myself to him as a fellow local business owner.”

Guess what I say when I call back in two hours?  The gatekeeper answers the phone, “Hello, thank you for calling XYZ retail store.”  I’ll say, “Hi, how are you?  Is Kevin available yet?” or “Calling back for Kevin.”  Learn to make short, short statements followed by silence.  Gatekeeper:  “Oh, I’m not sure if he is available.”  Me:  “Oh, I’ll hold.  Thank you.”

At the meeting I mentioned earlier, even the sales reps listening to the conversation were unnerved by the silence.  The gatekeepers were intent not to let me get past, but they couldn’t do anything with my positive, pleasant expectations.  The silence after my short responses was up to five seconds, which is a long time!  Then I would hear, “All right.  Hold on one second.”  

The lines to use in this strategy are super easy.  Memorize them and learn to say them in a positive, upbeat but quick manner.  Then BE QUIET.  Practice those techniques.  Use them in face-to-face meetings as well.  Using the keys in this episode will guide you past the gatekeepers every single time.

Read previous article here:  http://www.ccsalespro.com/sell-tablet-pos/  How to Sell Tablet POS

Read the next article here:  http://www.ccsalespro.com/residual-buyouts-dont-make-mistake/  Residual Buyouts – Don’t Make this Mistake

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