The Gatekeeper – Dragon-Slaying in Five Steps


It’s a title that elicits visions of fantastical and fearsome creatures – dragons, the Balrog – but the gatekeeper can be altogether more intimidating and decisive a foe.

There’s a phrase from some training collateral that seems, for its simplicity, to be lodged in the head of every member of staff at Bollin Green: “the Gatekeeper is your friend.”

It doesn’t always feel that way, but the sentiment must be there because that is the belief a telemarketer needs to successfully assail this potential obstacle in a call’s journey – especially when that obstacle holds a directly opposing belief; that they are absolutely not your friend.

Portrait of the sceptical receptionist

The sceptical receptionist. You can hear the frown in her voice; a note of disdain.

“I don’t think she’ll want to talk to you,” she says.

Even if she doesn’t say it, she’s thinking it loudly enough that it’s picked up by the receiver and stage-whispered into your ear.

It starts to feel like a hopeless pursuit.

Approach with caution, and courtship (kind of)

So, how to circumvent a seemingly immovable object?

Derek’s suggestion goes a step further than the training manual, and fits the ham-fisted and already-overdone fantasy conceit I’ve laboured into this blog: “Treat the gatekeeper as the Beautiful Princess, and not the Dragon that some seem to turn in to. Always make a friend of the Gatekeeper, not an enemy.”

If you’re having trouble with this, finding you can envision only the troll beneath a bridge, then remember this: the gatekeeper who continues blocking you from your target decision maker is keeping your competition out too!

To this end, Lynn offers some tips: “Make sure they are on your side. Make them feel their help is of great importance to you and have a smile on your face when you speak to them. Don’t be irritated as they will remember next time they hear your voice. Always be very polite and try to bring some humour into your conversation as they are human beings, just doing a job like us.”

If asking for the contact is getting you nowhere, change tack: gather information about the business. The gatekeeper may not be your target individual, but they hold more than just the keys to the decision maker’s door – the gatekeeper tends to sit on a veritable treasure trove of knowledge, much of which may help to inform how you break through the barrier they have built.

Dragon-slaying in five steps

  1. Be respectful – the gatekeeper is only doing their job.
  2. Be professional – be confident, clear and concise. Convey an air of seniority and the gatekeeper is more likely to assume your right to an audience.
  3. Don’t quit – one day you might get through. If you give up, you never will.
  4. A good gatekeeper keeps out the opposition – keep them on your side!
  5. Try to ask different questions rather than asking for the person – the tiniest snippet of information may be the difference between contact and twenty more deflected calls.

Be sure to keep a look-out for upcoming blogs on sales techniques and data, and remember to follow us on TwitterFacebook,Google+ and LinkedIn.  

Lets go Back to Basics!

Joe Green

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