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How to Get Past The Gatekeeper (6 Pro Tips)


How to Get Past The Gatekeeper (6 Pro Tips)

Executive assistants are experts when it comes to blocking sales calls. But here are a few pro tips for how to get past the gatekeeper.

Here are the steps for getting past gatekeepers when cold calling:

  1. Be respectful and build trust
  2. Be (mostly) honest
  3. Don’t try to sell to the gatekeeper
  4. Call your prospect’s colleagues
  5. Try another department
  6. If all else fails, chat the bot

Ah, the classic dilemma for Enterprise sales development reps. You’re trying to call a VP or C-level prospect but you have to get through their assistant first. 

Gatekeepers (AKA executive assistants, receptionists, or office managers) are hyper-trained to keep cold callers at bay. They’re used to persistent SDRs and can smell a sales pitch from a mile away.

Unfortunately, there’s no magical formula to get past the gatekeeper and pitch to your prospect – but there are some techniques that will boost your success rate.

Let’s jump right in and learn how to get past the gatekeeper like a pro.

1. Be respectful and build trust

At the end of the day, gatekeepers are just trying to do their job. Be respectful of their time and treat them with the same reverence as you would your prospect. 

The more knowledgeable you are about the company and gatekeeper, the better chance you have for making a connection

Try doing a little LinkedIn research on the gatekeeper. Is there something you have in common and does it make sense to use it as an icebreaker? Review the decision-maker’s profile as well. Use background information to let the gatekeeper know you understand what’s important to the decision-maker, and that your solution will be an ally to them. 

Or brush up on the company’s social media accounts. Did they just close a funding round? Congratulate them. Change in leadership? Let them know you’re excited to see what innovations they bring to the table. 

And of course, don’t forget to say thank you, use their first name, and remind them that you know their job is important. Plain old good manners can go a long way in building rapport.

2. Be (mostly) honest

Gatekeepers know most of the tricks in the book, and lying to them will likely make your job harder. Try leading with confidence and let them know the purpose of your call is to discuss a solution with the decision-maker. 

But if you’re going to tell a little white lie, make sure to back it up with proof. For example, try sending the DM an email with CTA that ends with “I’ll give you a ring tomorrow at 12:00 to discuss this further”. Your follow-up call with the gatekeeper could go something like this – 

“You: Good afternoon, (decision-maker) please. This is (your name)”

“GK: What’s this regarding?”

“You: We were supposed to talk about (your solution’s value proposition) at 12:00.”

“GK: They’re currently in another meeting.”

“Oh, I hope I’m not mistaken on the hour. Do you happen to know when they’ll be available? I’m also happy to hold.”

Stay friendly and confident, but if they ask any direct questions like “Is this a sales call?” – be honest.  Let them know that you have been in touch with the prospect, and that you are only calling because you truly think that you can help their company.

3. Don’t try to sell to the gatekeeper

When asked “What is this call regarding?”, don’t jump into a pitch. Gatekeepers aren’t your target persona, and they don’t have any interest in your product or service. 

But that doesn’t mean you should cut the conversation short. Make sure to mention any prior contact you’ve had with the decision-maker and try and get as much additional information you can. Try to find out the best time to call or even verify a (*cough* invented) email address.

4. Call your prospect’s colleagues

Now that many offices are fully remote, gatekeepers have even more of an excuse to send you away. If you keep getting told “I can’t transfer you through because so-and-so is working from home” – try calling your prospect’s colleagues.

Our Senior SDR Seb Sanders elaborates – ”A little trick that I’ve been trying throughout the last few months, is contacting people around the targeted buyer persona. If you’re trying to speak to a certain Ideal Customer Profile, there will obviously be other people in their department close to them.

If you’re looking for a prospect’s contact info and you can’t find the number anywhere, try another department like HR, or the sales team.

“And whether you’re completely honest about it, ‘I’m looking to speak to this person’ or you’re a little bit more sneaky about ‘Oh, sorry I thought this was, (your prospect’s) number, don’t suppose you could forward me to them?’, it works.”

Many times this tactic will get you names, email addresses, and even phone numbers of decision-makers. Or maybe you’ll even make a champion out of the person you speak with. 

5. Try another department

Remember, not every department or prospect has a gatekeeper. And one especially helpful department is Human Resources – they know everyone in the company. So if you’re looking for a prospect’s contact info and you can’t find the number anywhere, perhaps give HR a ring.

Sales is another department that’s always happy to pick up the phone. Build rapport from sales rep to sales rep, and maybe you’ll get a phone number, or even a referral, out of it. 

6. If all else fails, chat the bot

Chatbots help businesses to convert website visitors. But in even better news – they can also help you convert prospects into customers.

In general, the marketing team runs the chatbot. And while they might not necessarily be more open than gatekeepers, they’re definitely less trained in blocking SDRs. 

So, try your luck and see if you can get transferred from the chatbot. Or at least try to make a friend and find out more information about your decision-maker.

The bottom line

Getting past a gatekeeper is tough – but not impossible. Using a combination of these tactics and a prospecting platform is your best bet for contacting decision-makers. 

Want more tips for prospecting and cold calling while working from home? Check out our recent webinar.

Prospecting from home | A 360 view of managing a remote SDR team

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