Telesales: getting past the dreaded gatekeeper

Jul 22 | 2016

Darren Frostick, Director of Leading Edge Marketing Solutions, gives his tips on how to overcome one of the greatest barriers to telesales marketing: the gatekeeper.

For most people in telesales getting past the dreaded ‘gatekeeper’ can be a challenge. This individual seems to be there exclusively to block access to the decision maker and can kill any hope of getting a message across or arranging a meeting. However, with the right strategies in place, even the most dedicated access deniers can be bypassed. Here are some tips to help you get past the gatekeeper.

Tip 1: Engage the gatekeeper

Ask the gatekeeper for their help, if XYZ person is in a meeting when will they be free? If you have called numerous times ask them when is a good time to call, or try to get an e-mail address. Also get the gatekeeper’s name, then when you go back you can speak to them on a more personal level. The more of a relationship you can build up the more help you are likely to get.

Tip 2: Sound like you should be put through

If you sound important, you stand more chance of getting through. The gatekeeper needs to judge who should and should not be put through very quickly and will not want to upset a potential new customer or the MD of their biggest client. Speak like you should be talking to the person and avoid at all cost asking permission to talk to them. Terms such as “is it possible to speak to” should be avoided, asking for the person by name, “Joe Bloggs please,” has more authority.

Tip 3: Pick their brains

The gatekeeper’s role is to restrict interruptions to the decision maker’s daily routine, but they may also know a great deal of important information about them and the business. Use this opportunity to check that the person that you want to speak to really is the decision maker. Check your facts with them. Ask simple, non-intrusive open questions to try and build up a picture of both the gatekeeper and the decision maker.

Tip 4: Don’t sell to the gatekeeper

Selling to the gatekeeper gives them the opportunity to decide on behalf of the decision maker and the company if your products or services are of interest. Generally the gatekeeper is not involved at that level or privy to strategy or purchasing policy, so no matter how desperate you are to contact the decision maker, do not pitch to the gatekeeper. This is especially true when the gatekeeper asks, “Can I tell him what it’s regarding?”

Tip 5: Be creative

Your overzealous gatekeeper will start at a certain time, finish at a certain time and take a lunch break, but the person you need to speak to may not be in sync with this and may answer the phone directly when the gatekeeper is not there. A different gatekeeper may be less diligent when covering for a colleague, so try phoning before office hours, slightly after, and at lunchtime. Also try contacting them directly via platforms such as LinkedIn or Twitter.

Telemarketing is an art, and what works for one will not necessarily work for another. Top telemarketers develop their own personal techniques for bypassing gatekeepers, but I hope this will help you to develop your own style and get through to the person you really need to speak to.