Excellence in Cold Calling
Whether you have been in sales before or someone looking to land a sales job straight out of college, the first thing you need to understand in order to be successful in sales is how to get around the gatekeeper. The gatekeeper is the person that allows you to get past the front desk and to the special point of contact, herein after called “spoc”, so you can begin your sales pitch. As the references imply, the gatekeeper’s job is to keep YOU from getting past her. Yes, you read it right; she does not want you to get through her door! The “spoc’s” job is to decide if your product or service is what he either wants or needs. In this article I’m going to layout some tips and strategies you can use to get past the gatekeeper so you have an opportunity to prove your worth as a sales representative.
In order to show you can sell you need to be able to carry out the often difficult task of delicately maneuvering past the gatekeeper. This is half the battle because the gatekeeper likely has been with the company for a while and knows that the “spoc” usually isn’t too fond of sales reps and they distract him from doing his job. Another reason the gatekeeper doesn’t want you to get past her is, as just mentioned, you keep the point of contact from doing his job, which means he may have to stay at the office longer, which means the gatekeeper does as well. If you can follow a few simple tips your chances of getting to the point of contact and closing the sale are much greater. If you can’t, well then, you’re going to be in entry level sales for a while.
First, the most important thing you can do when speaking with the gatekeeper is to give her the same respect and attention that you would the “spoc” or owner of the company. Doing this empowers the gatekeeper and makes her feel important, which should be your goal. If you don’t treat them as you would the spoc they will pick up on that make it more difficult for you to do your job. Depending on her level of influence with the spoc, she may tell him that you were an unpleasant person to speak with. Treating her as you would the spoc means always being conscious to approach the gatekeeper with good eye contact and a smile on your face. Smiling is important because it has a way of making the gatekeeper feel good about her own self. You never know what kind of day they are having and if they have even had someone smile at them that day. Your smile might be all they need to brighten their day and make them feel comfortable with you. Also, making good eye contact is very important as it promotes personal strength and confidence and goes a long ways in being remembered by the gatekeeper the next time you stop by to make a sales call.
Additionally, you can always ask the gatekeeper the same question that you would ask the spoc to make her feel like her job is important. One simple question to ask is “how do you and your company make decisions about ABC?” Or “what vendor is your company currently using for XYZ?” Notice that the question has the words YOU and YOUR in them. Asking these questions elevates the gatekeeper to a certain level of importance that she is likely never recognized for. Her response will almost always be something like “Oh, dear, I don’t handle that area. John Smith, our Plant Operations Manager, takes care of that.” BOOM!!! Her response to those simple questions gives you the name of your potential spoc. Then thank her for her help and politely ask to speak with that person for one minute, as you do not want to take up to much of his time. Most of the time the gatekeeper will, even though you’ve made her feel important, say that person is in a meeting or out of the office or anything to keep you from getting past her. Ask to leave your business card and any brochures you have about your products or services for the spoc. Smile, tell her it was a pleasure meeting her and be on your way.
Moreover, when trying to get past the gatekeeper always take a glance at what is on her desk. You want to know if she is eating or drinking anything. What book is she reading? Is there any family or baby pictures on the desk? If so, ask what the baby’s name is, when it was born, how much it weighed, etc. The gatekeeper will likely give you a couple of moments to discuss these kinds of things. When you leave the building immediately make a note in your cell phone, laptop, or notebook about what you saw or discussed with her, including the gatekeeper’s name. Nine out of ten sales reps never do this and by taking a few extra minutes to make notes will put you way ahead of your competition when it comes to making sales calls and getting past the gatekeeper.
Finally, the next time you go back to make a call review your notes before you go in and you will be amazed by the gatekeeper’s response when you ask how little baby is doing. Depending on how big the account is, if you have the time and the money stop by and get her that pack of crackers and diet coke you saw on her desk the last time you were there. When she see’s that you took the time to remember her grandchild’s name or get crackers I’ll guarantee you she does her best to get you back to see the spoc. This is the beginning of a good relationship and one that will help get you paid commissions and gain the experience necessary to move up to higher paying jobs in the future.
So there you have it. Although getting past the gatekeeper can be challenging and sometimes take several sales calls there are strategies that can be used to make to process go much quicker and easier. These strategies aren’t difficult to perform but do take some practice and diligence if you want to succeed as a sales representative in your career. Making good eye contact, smiling, asking key questions, and paying attention to details will make you an all around better communicator, build stronger relationships, and get you paid more money. Take action on these tips and you will guarantee yourself future personal and business success!