Receptionists, secretaries, or personal assistants are employed to help manage their colleagues’ time, and are expected to screen out unwanted calls. For this reason, they are often referred to as gatekeepers. Doing your job effectively may require you to convey a reason – at the appropriate time – to explain why the call may be valuable, and therefore wanted.
Many gatekeepers, especially PA’s, are a very good source of intelligence as they are very often centrally placed within the flow of information in an organisation. They will often know who is who and who is involved in certain decisions.
This means that they can help or hinder your efforts! If you can get them on your side, they can help you to screen in or screen out a target contact or company which will save a lot of repeat calls. They may even be able to tip you off about initiatives going on within the company which might create a sales opportunity.
How to get past the gatekeeper
Like us all, receptionists are just trying to do their jobs. Time is key as incoming calls can make things hectic for a receptionist and their team.
Make sure to keep it brief, ideally have a contact name in mind to ask for, or alternatively be familiar at how to briefly explain what you’re calling about and what sort of person/role this may be most relevant to.
PAs, Assistants, Colleagues
If you’ve called for someone particular and have reached their PA, assistant, or colleague – brilliant! They can likely help you.
Again like receptionists, keep it brief and be respectful of them taking the time to help you. These gatekeepers could end up being your best ally, able to tell you your contact’s priorities, contact details, and availability. Where you can, ensure you ask about the decision-maker’s/team’s needs, priorities, and challenges. These tips will be gold dust to use when speaking with the decision-maker.
Speak the truth, but don’t pitch to the gatekeeper
When they ask you what the call is regarding, it can be tempting to jump into a familiar pitch but don’t. They’re not the person who will make the decision, and they aren’t going to identify with the same goals or challenges that the decision-maker will have. Instead openly explain what you are calling about and explore if that is something topical or relevant to the person you are trying to reach.
Don’t forget how much knowledge or influence the gatekeeper may have
Respectful handling may gain you a valuable champion in the organisation. If the gatekeeper can’t or won’t provide the information you want, thank them anyway. Then ask them to pass you on. Think laterally – who else might know and help? The Chief Executive’s PA perhaps? A departmental colleague? Remember, gatekeepers are just doing their job and can be a real asset to you in your quest to build a relationship with decision-makers.
Picking up the phone, only to not reach the decision-maker can be disappointing, but if you follow our tips you can ensure you get value from every call. Explore, make the most of your time, and you will get one step closer to having a conversation with the decision-maker person.
Need further resource to help with pre-sales calls and sales strategy? The expert team here at Fast Track can help you find and engage more decision makers to cultivate more qualified leads and appointments. Get in touch with us today.