Top 10 ways to get past the gatekeeper

We all know about cold calls. We all know they are an essential part of business at some stage or another. And they are more frequent if things are slow heading towards gridlock. Now some entrepreneurs or marketing gurus will tell you that the cold call is yesterday’s business, a thing of the past. Perhaps so but don’t try telling that to the vast numbers of people who make vast numbers of cold calls every day. Cold calls will always be with us as long as there is a need for business to do business.

The two main players The gatekeeper, so-called, is the person who answers the phone when you call. It is often the receptionist. Their response can range from cold indifference to friendly and helpful. But is the attitude of the gatekeeper influenced by you the caller? Maybe if you improved your phone strategies, you might get a better response from the gate-keepers. The second main player is the decision-maker with power. That’s the person you need to make contact with. Undoubtedly the two players are linked. The gatekeeper might have clear instructions to protect the decision-maker at all times. If nothing else, you need to discover the name of the decision-maker. If you’re making a genuine cold call you may well have no details about the company when you make contact. Obviously you want to be put through to the decision-maker but if not, at least try and discover their identity so you’ll have someone to aim for next time.

Ten tips to get through to the decision-maker:

1.Avoid assumptions.

2.Change the gatekeeper’s name.

3.Cut the laughs.

4.Show respect.

5.Be honest.

6.Selling is a profession.

7.Develop connections.

8.Be natural and be yourself.

9.Friday afternoon is a good time.

10.Never give up.

Be prepared to speak to almost anybody when you make a cold call. If you have your mind set on the fact that the receptionist will answer the phone and in fact it's the actual boss of the company or the decision-maker you need to speak to, you started off on the wrong foot. Be prepared for every eventuality. If you think of cold calling as being a test of psychology, then you'll do yourself a big favour by no longer referring to the gatekeeper as the gatekeeper. If you build up an image in your mind of the person on the other end of the line as somebody you need to defeat, then you're off on the wrong foot to start with. I'm not saying you should think of the gatekeeper as your friend but you could certainly should think of them as the receptionist, which they probably are, or at least somebody who is there to help and guide you.

You may think that you’re a brilliant stand-up comedian and even if you are, making a cold call is not the time to try out your new stand-up routine. Lose the gags. The best way to treat everybody is to do so with respect. It's easy for a person receiving a cold call to interpret your attitude as being one which is respectful and courteous. Maintain that position. As soon as you lose your honesty in making a cold call you lose your credibility. Don't try and paint yourself as somebody you’re not. Don't try and hide the real purpose of your call. You must have belief in the goods or services you are trying to promote and you must couple that belief with truthfulness. Never forget that selling is a profession just like many others. It needs professional salespeople. Without salespeople the world of commerce will grind to a halt. You are indispensable and cold calling is an indispensable part of selling.

Believe in yourself. When you first make your cold call you're not there to exchange names and phone numbers with the receptionist and ask them about their holidays and children. But by the same token it is really good if you can establish some sort of connection. If the weather is particularly hot or there has been some major breaking news of recent times, then making some sort of human contact can help to develop some sort of relationship. The best approach to making a cold call and to selling in general is to be natural and to be yourself. Don't try and be somebody else. Don't put on a false front.

In practical terms making a cold call on a Friday afternoon is often recommended. At that time many employees are winding down and in a good mood and looking forward to the weekend. The people you contact re your cold call may be more inclined to speak with you at that time. Selling can be difficult and cold calling can be very difficult. Rejection is par for the course. What you need to establish is your firm belief in the adage that you should never give up. Tomorrow is another day and the next time you call you may get a different person on the phone or the same person in a better mood. Keep at it.