Sales Pitch 1 Comment

6 Proven Tips For Getting Past The Gatekeeper

Max Altschuler

June 7th, 2017

getting past the gatekeeper

Getting past the gatekeeper is really frustrating our reps – in most cases, these gatekeepers know nothing about the business or org chart and wont transfer to a direct name.

As a result, our Enterprise SDRs are hitting a wall when calling into their target accounts. 

I don’t want to just rely on email campaigns to the individual prospects.

Thoughts on how you approach prospecting enterprise accounts like these?”

How Do You Get Past The Gatekeeper?

Scenarios like the above can definitely be frustrating for any sales team.

That’s why we’ve curated our top tips for getting past the gatekeeper and reaching a decision maker with ease.

At a high level, here’s some quick tips for getting past the gatekeeper:

  • Establish trust by mentioning something learned in your research of the prospect.
  • Avoid the gatekeeper altogether – try another avenue!
  • Go above them! You’ll most likely get a decision maker.
  • Go to the person below them to acquire a champion.
  • Try social engagement – LinkedIn In-mail, Twitter, etc.
  • Use your network and try to get a referral.

Jeffrey Gitomer Explains How To Reach Decision Makers With Stealth

6 Sales Managers Give Their Best Advice For Getting Past The Gatekeeper

Ilan Kopeckly, Sales Development Leader at Talkdesk, Inc.

Love this topic, as there’s no magic bullet for getting past the gatekeeper. That said, I’m going to challenge the assertion that the gatekeeper knows nothing about the business or org chart.

How are your reps opening the conversation? Are they referencing their outreach attempts to target organizations within the company, for example?

If they are simply asking, “who’s the best person for this conversation?”, that EA gets 50 of those calls a day and doesn’t want to feel like a switchboard.

The C-Level EA, I’d argue, is one of the most knowledgeable people at the entire company, but expecting them to just hand you information without first establishing trust is damn near futile.

Establishing trust by mentioning a strategic initiative or something learned in your research of the executive you’re trying to contact should yield better results.

Patrick BuckleySenior Manager, Sales Development at Twilio Inc.

If you are getting blocked out by a gatekeeper, who is frankly doing their job, try another avenue.

This is where a combination of approaches, email, calls, inMail, and referrals will give you the best odds of success.

Much like getting a job in a competitive market, getting a referral is your best shot.

Think about how you can grab the attention of a C-Level in a short email to gain a referral down to someone who will then have more of an “obligation” to engage with you. Sometimes, email is the best way to do that. If not, try calling after hours when your gatekeeper has gone home.

Jessica Erven, Sales Development at ClickTime

I think it’s (most of the time—not always) pointless to try to get past a gate-keeper that is just doing their job well. Instead of vague advice like “charm them,” I say if you can’t get past them, you find other points of contact. period. What other options do you have? Well….

* Go above or below them. If you go above, and you make contact, you’re golden. Top-down is how you sell faster anyways. If you contact the person below them, you have a champion.

That person can be greatly valuable in not only gaining direct access to their boss, but in also getting the company interested in your product internally. Remember, enterprise companies are huge. There is ALWAYS someone else to reach out to that can be just as valuable in the sales cycle.

* Social engagement. Gate-keepers generally aren’t monitoring social profiles of their bosses. Engage with them through Linkedin In-mail, Twitter, etc.

* Personal communication. Its not that hard to find personal emails and/or phone numbers these days. This is a very risky choice, as its not all that professional (in my opinion) to reach out to someone about business not through business resources, but it is a last resort. It is possible.

Lastly, no matter who it is you’re galvanizing—the CEO, the Manager or the CEO’s EA—know who you’re targeting in regards to your product and be prepared to pitch it to whomever you can make contact with. You might find a champion anywhere if you are smart about it.

Kristi Goth, former Enterprise Sales Development Manager at Influitive

Use your network and try to get a referral. Enterprise SDR’s should have experience. If you are throwing new kids in there they probably won’t have much success, but if you get an SDR who has worked for a couple of companies and has built a network …..that goes a long way.

Also for messaging…. have them follow those leaders on Twitter and all different social media communities, etc, so they can make a real time direct comment about what those prospects are tweeting, talking about.

One more quick thing is to have them using a yesware/toutapp type of solution so they can see when their emails are being open and jump on the phone right as they are. Timing is of the essence.

Phill Keene, Account Executive at Octiv

Start by treating them like a person.

Remember their name, use it in a sentence…note it in CRM for when you call them again.

Honestly, it’s all about the delivery. Be up front and honest with them about why you are calling. Let them know it is a cold call, and you need help reaching the right person.

Their job function is to be a face of the organization when people call in, and be helpful. Contrary to popular belief, they want to help, not block you from reaching someone.

Tim Stanton, Sr. Strategic Account Manager, Salesforce

How about not cold calling? Find your key contact on LinkedIn and reach out to them directly. Start with a 3 sentence introduction (they are likely reading it on a mobile device) and follow up by phone after, Your success rate will skyrocket.

Sales isn’t a numbers game unless you are struggling and putting pressure on. Lastly, start with client referrals-ask your best clients for 2-3 each (draft an intro email they could use in your behalf). Good luck!

About the author

Max Altschuler

Max Altschuler is the founder and CEO of Sales Hacker, the leading community for the next generation of sales professionals. He’s the author of Hacking Sales: The Playbook for Building a High Velocity Sales Machine. Max has been been published by the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Money, and more. He was named a top sales expert by both Salesforce and Inc, and keynotes conferences globally. He is also an avid investor and advisor for rapid growth startups.

  • Chuck Hamman

    My first job out of college was a sales manager’s assistant. I was a gatekeeper. I was good at it.

    I could tell in 2 seconds if the call was getting through or not. I’ve never understood why, but the pitch in a salesman’s voice is always the same. I would plug people into the voicemail so they can get deleted within seconds.

    I thought most salesmen wasted a tremendous amount of time.

    I’ve found a few ways that work to get through. I think it’s helpful for other salesmen. It’s too long to write about here in this response, so I posted it as an article, http://www.littlebookthatsells.com/article-library/2016/8/15/how-to-get-past-gatekeepers

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