Getting Past the Gatekeepers
Roughly only 20% of B2B telephone cold calls reach the decision makers on the first call. You need to recognise that persistence is important if you are going get through the many hurdles. The percentage depends on company size, the decision-makers, the availability of direct dial numbers and … a myriad of other factors.
First things first; get yourself in the right frame of mind. Be confident and conversational, you want to make every phone call sound as though it is the only one you’ve make that day. Remember that by making the call you are closer to your potential client benefiting from your products and services. Not that you are ‘selling’ anything, you are of course ‘solving’ their issues enabling them to either maximise revenue or minimise costs.
- “Stalk’ your target client on social media (if they are present)
- Understand their motivation and know what you are offering is of benefit to them personally
- Identify your champions that will make an introduction for you. If you have one you can bypass the rest of these tips
- Send a message, email, direct mail, twitter before a call suggesting you will call. When the gatekeeper asks if the client knows what the call is about you can genuinely say yes
- Ask for the client by their first name, then full name. “May I speak with Chris – Chris Munroe, thank you
- Be assumptive – use “thank you” – “Please”, is a question which can be refused. A downward inflection in your voice = a statement not question!
- Transmit seniority, gatekeepers would lose their jobs of they were rude to someone senior. Focus on your pace, tone, pitch, your pauses and emphasis. Senior people tend to speak more S-L-O-W-L-Y
- If you can, find out the name of the gatekeeper – LinkedIn can be quite useful. Hi is that Shani? May I speak with Chris etc … thank you!
- Give information sparingly – little information = little opportunity for objections
- Answer only the questions asked – avoid listening and responding to the voices in your head
- Believe that you will be put through – to the extent that it is a self fulfilling prophecy. You have the authority, importance and seniority to be put through.
- Practice – having these tips are not enough. Make them a habit through practice!
If you get caught by the pedantic gatekeeper, the compelling message that s/he will respond to will be as a result of your careful research. The gatekeeper will help you get to where you need to be if they can see validity of your claim to their industry, their firm, their boss. Sometimes the gatekeeper will want the credibility of bringing you to the table. Let them have it. Their influence is worth their weight in gold.
Do bear in mind, in today’s industries, the gatekeeper could well be everyone else in the company that your target client works for. Research is key!