Monday, February 20, 2012

Cooperating With The Gatekeeper

At the February Erie Sales Club Workshop, the theme of our roundtable discussion was "Getting Past The Gatekeeper." But as we talked, the group concluded that "getting past" is the incorrect attitude sales reps should take in regards to gatekeepers. This shouldn't be an adversarial relationship at all. The gatekeeper wants to help their company and so does the sales rep.

Here's the list the group developed of the 7 Best Methods For Working With Gatekeepers:

1. Cooperate with the gatekeeper. Say, "I need your help" instead of devising a scheme to bypass them.

2. Out of respect, learn the gatekeeper's name and get to know them as a person.

3. After you talk with the gatekeeper, send them a note with a gift card thanking them for being pleasant and helpful.

4. Have a unique and compelling What's In It For Them (WIIFT) reason the gatekeeper should give you access to the decision maker. What can you provide that will benefit their company?

5. Prepare. Know the prospect's biggest pain and their biggest need, and be prepared to offer a solution to their problems.

6. Research the company on their website. Find out who the decision makers are and ask for them by name. For smaller companies, start by asking for the president first and second-ranking manager next. Knowing the decision maker's (DM's) name can earn you faster entry.

7. If you were referred by someone the prospect knows, mention that up front.

When gatekeepers are uncooperative and do not grant you access, you may need to use these creative tactics to bypass them:
* Buy a lottery ticket and mail it to the decision maker with a note saying, "Call me if you win!"
* Send the DM a book they might find interesting. Mail it via a method that requires a signature (e.g. FedEx, UPS). This will make you stand out immediately and give you a better chance of them returning your call.
* Connect with the DM on LinkedIn. The gatekeeper likely doesn't manage their LinkedIn connections, so they can't block you.
* Call the DM during lunch.
* Call another extension in the organization and ask that person to connect you with the DM.

The Erie Sales Club is a joint effort of four leading local businesses: Jameson Publishing, Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services, VertMarkets, and Howland Peterson Consulting.