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How to Have Better Conversations With Gatekeepers

Use these techniques for engaging in productive sales conversations with gatekeepers and you’ll have a better chance of differentiating yourself from the hundreds of other sales reps who are pitching and annoying them.

Gatekeepers Are People First

First, let’s start with the real problem which is that most sales reps just don’t know how to really engage and talk to gatekeepers. That’s really the bottom line. They don’t treat gatekeepers like people.

A long time ago, my first sales manager gave me a great lesson in how to have constructive conversations with gatekeepers. He said, “They are just people, just like you. They want to be respected, they want to be listened to, and they don’t want to be pitched. Show a real interest in them and treat them with kindness and you’ll go a long way.”

This sounds so easy to do. But for some reason, sales reps seem afraid to engage and ask questions of gatekeepers because they think that as soon as they give them an opening, they are going to get the door shut in their face.

Here are five tips and scripts that will help you get better at the crucial skill of relating to gatekeepers so you don’t get shut down. Use these and you’ll soon find yourself way ahead of your competition and engaging in more productive sales conversations with gatekeepers.

Be Polite

Tip number one is to always, always use please and thank you— especially with gatekeepers. In fact, the more times you use the word please in your opening, the more successful you’ll become. The more polite you are with the gatekeeper, the more polite and helpful they will be with you.

Try: “Hi, could I please speak with _________, please?”

Engage the Gatekeeper

The second way to work with gatekeepers is to use the, “I need a little bit of help please,” technique. The key to using this is that you have to stop here and wait for the other person to respond. You’d be surprised by how many people use this technique but combine it with, “I need to speak with the person who…”

This doesn’t work. This doesn’t engage the person on the other end of the phone. You absolutely must give the other person a chance to respond to you before you continue.

Use a Friendly Opening

When you do get the decision-maker on the phone, please, do not use that tired old phrase, “How are you today?”

Nothing identifies you as a disinterested salesperson more than that worn-out line.

Instead, use this: “Hi is that ________? Hi _________, this is Mike Brooks with ___________, how’s your Monday (or day of the week) going so far?”

Now I know it sounds like the same thing, but it is not. First, no one is saying it, and because you’re talking about the current day they are in, you are more likely to get them to respond to you honestly.

If they ask you how your Monday is going as well, always thank them for asking first before you move into your script.

Again, this may seem like a small technique, but it makes a BIG impact.

Why are You Calling?

Introduce the reason you’re calling in as short of a time as possible and then ask them an engaging question. Most sales reps start their calls with a paragraph-long spiel. They start talking at the other person instead of with them.

Mix your opening up with something like:

“__________, briefly, the reason I’m calling you is that I see on LinkedIn that you run an inside sales department and I was just wondering how often you work with outside trainers or consultants to help you improve your results?”

The key here is to get them involved in the sales conversation early – even if you fear a negative response. And ALWAYS hit your internal mute button and let them talk.

Be Prepared for Objections

The last tip for today is to always be prepared for the objections you get with a scripted response that doesn’t challenge your prospect, but rather, allows them to feel heard and respected.

Here’s how you can handle the, “I’m not interested,” objection:

“No problem _________. Please realize that I’m not calling to sell you anything today. I’m just calling to see if what we have might be a good fit for you and if I can help you down the line. Let me ask you….”

Do you see how this doesn’t push back on them? Using a response like this will get you much further than challenging them as so many sales reps still tend to do.

By using the above techniques, you’ll begin to actually have productive sales conversations with gatekeepers and you’ll differentiate yourself from the hundreds of other sales reps who are pitching at them. This will make their day, and yours, much more enjoyable and profitable.


For more techniques on engaging with prospects in successful sales conversations, download our FREE guide, Seven Steps to Building Effective Prospecting Sequences.

About the author

Mike Brooks

Mike Brooks

Mike Brooks is the founder of Mr. Inside Sales, a North Carolina based inside…

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