John isn’t available right now. Send me your information and I’ll share it with him – is an all too often response from gatekeepers that novice and veteran salespeople alike experience. It’s no wonder that some of the most common questions with cold calling training is how to avoid gatekeeper objections in the first place and how to get past the gatekeeper.
Most salespeople when they hear an objection from a gatekeeper see this as the end of the road, say thank you and hang up. In doing so, they overlook two important facts about prospecting through gatekeepers:
Sellers dread interacting with gatekeepers because objections seems inevitable. Through an understanding of these two facts, sellers can see these conversations with gatekeepers for what they really are: a rare opportunity to do research on prospects.
If you can build these approaches into your own sales interactions, you’ll learn much more information about your prospect and how to get past the gatekeepers.
One of the best ways for getting past gatekeepers is to avoid them altogether. This goes without saying but all too often salespeople don’t block off time during the day to get direct lines for their prospects. In addition to online databases like ZoomInfo or LeadIQ, using the phone is an underutilized source for direct lines. You can even leverage gatekeepers to get contact info on your prospect.
In addition to using direct lines to get past the gatekeeper, you can also call outside of normal business hours to reach your prospects. Executives tend to arrive early and work late when the gatekeeper isn’t there, so calling them outside of business hours will help you to get past the gatekeeper.
It starts with a little resilience, and an awareness of the big picture to get past the gatekeeper. A gatekeeper’s job is to screen calls and determine who connects with others in the organization (aka the decision makers). Gatekeepers are not your enemy; they are simply doing their job of blocking unwanted calls from decision makers.
Executive assistants take this role very seriously, and sales calls are a red flag; many gatekeepers will respond with objections as soon as they realize you are calling in a sales capacity. But no matter how frustrated you may become you must remain polite.
Especially if you find yourself leaving repeated messages. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that 80 percent of sales are accomplished somewhere between the 5th and 12th contact.
This means even the best-crafted cold call messaging can fall on deaf ears. It also means that when a gatekeeper objects to your call, it’s not a meaningful objection. Phrases such as, John’s not interested – no need to call back often have little bearing on how receptive that executive will be to your message. Assistants may not always be aware of the ways your messaging can resonate with a prospect.
Gatekeepers aren’t a good channel for reaching prospects directly and it may not be most efficient if you spend your time trying to get past the gatekeeper. Gatekeepers are one of the best resources for gathering information on your prospect and their organization.
Receptionists and administrative assistants tend to sit at the “hub” of the office. This means they witness a lot of company interactions, and often maintain relationships with individuals across different departments. Gatekeepers can provide inside information about ongoing initiatives, reporting structure, communication preferences, and contact information. By asking the gatekeeper for advice you are showing that you respect their knowledge and value their suggestions.
After getting some insight from the gatekeeper, it’s time to leverage the knowledge you now have. The most effective way to get past a gatekeeper is to go around them. Instead of asking to be connected to your prospect directly, find their direct line, or connect with them on LinkedIn. Administrative assistants often manage the voicemail, and even email inbox of the executive they support, but it’s uncommon for them to manage that executive’s LinkedIn page.
By looking to gatekeepers for insight, rather than always trying to get past them, salespeople accomplish several things. Not only do they open up new opportunities for gathering information about prospects, they foster rapport and change the attitude towards salespeople at that account.
Instead of always trying to get the past the gatekeeper and face gatekeeper objections head-on, getting more from gatekeepers starts with a simple change of attitude. Professional sellers with information acquired from gatekeepers will be differentiated from other salespeople relying on more traditionally accessible information about the prospect.