Sometimes you meet a person, and hit if off right away. Other times, a relationship only develops after several interactions.
The dynamics are unpredictable. Anyone in sales knows this. Patience, and frequently persistence, are virtues with no price tag.
However, salespeople should never forget one of the most valid entries in the oft-trod world of clichés: You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
Nowhere is this truer than in cold calling. Your first impression means everything. It determines whether a conversation continues, a message is returned … or your call is put through to a decisionmaker.
This last scenario, of course, involves an intermediary. Someone who intercedes. Someone who decides a next step. Someone who largely controls the fate of your call. In other words, someone with … real power.
Salespeople long ago tagged this person “The Gatekeeper.” To listen to time-tested (and often wrong) sales training, this person is equivalent to Heimdall, the mythological deity who guarded Asgard, home of the Norse gods (if you’ve seen any of the recent Thor movies, you’ll get the reference).
Serious power, indeed.
Should you be frightened? No.
In human resources vernacular, the position titles for gatekeepers are typically “front desk greeter,” “receptionist” or “administrative assistant.” These benign titles, though, discount their substantial savvy, and ability to sniff out salespeople in short order
My first article in this series exploded the dusty notion that, for salespeople, a gatekeeper is someone to be ignored, pushed aside or gotten around. Wrong. They should be engaged, and even made an advocate who can help you.
My second article examined how NOT to do this. For example: Asking qualifying questions. Being evasive. Even being downright rude. The mistakes are too numerous to count … yet salespeople continue to make them.
Hear that sound? It’s the rubber hitting the road. Take notes, and prepare to dial. Here’s where we dive into the “hows.”
The first step? Be polite and respectful when greeting a gatekeeper. “Sir” and “ma’am” go a long way. So does a friendly, patient tone of voice.
Don’t be in a hurry. No one likes being treated like a speed bump. Make clear you have all the time in the world.