One of the biggest challenges in B2B telemarketing is knowing how to get past gatekeepers. Gatekeepers are the people who take calls on behalf of managing directors or decision-makers. They often help to schedule meetings and arrange their diaries. Often, their job is to answer less technical queries.
However, if you are in a position where you want to obtain a customer with more technical knowledge, you may have to speak to someone higher up. This is where getting past the gatekeeper comes in.
Getting Past Gatekeepers Effectively
When it comes to B2B sales, it’s vital that you can speak to someone who will understand the technical benefits of the product or service you are trying to sell. When it comes to more technical offerings, it’s unlikely that the person at the front desk will fully understand the extent to which you can help. That’s why it’s important to get through to someone in a more senior position who has the capacity to make key decisions.
However, you must also remember that some gatekeepers are simply there to help you and direct you to the right department. They won’t always want to prevent you from being put through to the person you need to speak to. Either way, there are some strategies you can use, as a telemarketer, to ensure that you don’t get blocked by gatekeepers. In this piece, we’ll take a look at some of these strategies you can use the next time you need to know how to get past gatekeepers.
Understanding the Gatekeeper Role
A gatekeeper is someone who acts as a kind of filter between incoming calls and people in higher-up positions or someone who sits in between departments. Remember, as a telemarketer, your aim is to offer solutions to your customers and try to convince them that your offerings are superior to your competitors. A gatekeeper may, therefore, not always be the best person to speak to when trying to make a sale.
Often key decision-makers are very busy people who need assistance filtering calls that may be a waste of their time. This is why gatekeepers exist. They are responsible for helping decision-makers with their schedules and will sometimes have access to their calendars too.
They also act as filters so that customer inquiries and other calls are directed to the correct department. For telemarketers, however, they are often an entity that blocks them from having conversations with someone who may be a good prospect or lead.
Why Gatekeepers are a Challenge for Telemarketers
Gatekeepers can be anyone, from the person who sits in reception to help customers or someone who is a personal assistant for a key decision maker or someone in a senior position. They can be a challenge for telemarketers to get past, especially given that telemarketers often have a reputation for being a nuisance to busy people.
Most gatekeepers are trained to decline sales phone calls on behalf of key decision-makers. However, there are ways and means of getting past them if you know what you’re doing.
7 Effective Strategies for Getting Past Gatekeepers
We’ve put together a list of 7 effective strategies you can use the next time you encounter a gatekeeper in a prospect-building call. Once you get through to the relevant party, its more likely that you will be able to build a relationship with that person and will have direct access to them in the future if the call goes well. Let’s take a closer look at how to get past gatekeepers.
Put yourself in the position of the gatekeeper
When you make a phone call, and you encounter a gatekeeper, the key thing is not to panic. Instead, think about the position the gatekeeper is in and see if you can use it to your advantage.
Express empathy by placing yourself in the gatekeeper’s shoes. Realistically, are they going to be able to provide you with the information you need? Are they showing you signs that they are not interested in taking this phone call? The more you can gain from establishing the position of the gatekeeper, the more likely it is that you can have an honest conversation with them about why you need to speak to one of the key decision-makers.
Have some expected questions and answers prepared
If you preempt that you are going to encounter a gatekeeper, then it’s a great idea to have some questions and answers prepared beforehand, This will make you come across as more confident and will, in turn, reassure the gatekeeper that you are not going to waste a key-decision maker’s time. Some of the simple questions a gatekeeper may ask may be:
- “Where are you calling from?”
- “What is this call with regards to?”
- “Do you have an appointment with x?”
If you are prepared with succinct answers to these questions, then it’s more likely the gatekeeper will put you through to the correct department or person without a hitch.
Using gatekeeper techniques on the gatekeeper
This should only be used in scenarios where you are 100% sure about who the person is that you need to speak to. Gatekeepers will usually try to keep the conversation with a telemarketer as short as possible.
For example, if you need to speak to Steve in the procurement department, then you need to make it clear that he is the only one who can answer your query. Using phrases like “would you put me through to X” and saying “thank you” at the end of a sentence demonstrates you are sure about who you need to speak to.
Be able to think on your toes
More often than not, gatekeepers will ask you a question or say something that you may not have been expecting. In this case, as a telemarketer, you need to be able to think on your feet. You also need to be able to establish, quite quickly, the type of gatekeeper you have on the other end of the phone call. Assuming you will be put through is a great way to assert confidence in your position. However, you may also need to take some time to explain who you are and why you’re calling so that you can get through.
Always remember to practice respect and build trust
Even though the gatekeeper may not be the person you want to speak to, it’s important that you always demonstrate respect towards the gatekeeper. Remember, they are often the ones standing between you and the actual person you need to talk to. The more you build trust with the gatekeeper, the more likely they will put you through to the relevant party.
Remember, the gatekeeper is not your target to sell to
Even though you may have to take some time to build trust with the gatekeeper, you should also keep in mind that they are not the ones you are trying to make a sale to. If you start your sales pitch with the gatekeeper, they will pick up that this is a sales call.
Most gatekeepers are told to automatically reject sales calls on behalf of key decision-makers. This is why it’s important to come across as confident and to have an idea of who the correct person you need to speak to when making a B2B sales or prospect-building phone call.
Try and obtain information from the gatekeeper
If the gatekeeper is being particularly difficult, you can actually use this to your advantage. One of the classic lines they use is that the key decision-maker is in a meeting or otherwise occupied. You can use this as an opportunity to schedule an appointment with the person that you need to speak to and to gain more information about the person that you need to speak to. This all comes from building trust and rapport with the gatekeeper.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
There are some common mistakes that telemarketers make when they need to get past gatekeepers. Common mistakes include:
- Selling to the gatekeeper. Some salespeople get overly excited about the product or service on offer and start pitching the sale too early to the gatekeeper.
- Non-stop calling. When you keep calling the gatekeeper or pestering them, then there is a chance that they will block your calls and prevent you from getting through to the person you need to.
- No asking for what you want. When you get blocked by a gatekeeper, it’s easy to forget to ask for the direct contact details of the person. Even if you just get an email address, it gives you a foot in the door.
- Pretending to be someone else. It can be tempting to lie to the gatekeeper to get to the person you want. One of the most common things is to lie about the person you are. Always remember to be honest with your gatekeepers.
Using these strategies properly
When you are calling to build leads, and you encounter a gatekeeper, the best thing to remember is to remain calm and keep the objective of the phone call in mind. Remember to remain honest and make sure you keep your confidence levels up, as this will instil positivity in the gatekeeper too. If you need assistance with your telemarketing campaigns, get in touch with Novus today and find out how we can help you.