Gatekeepers: friend or foe? 

 I think the first 3-5 seconds of the call is key to how you can start a typical conversation without getting branded with the negative image of salesperson. Let’s face it, some businesses have been practicing traditional sales tactics over a decade now that are not effective anymore. Our customers are smarter and that includes your gatekeepers. They can smell telemarketing a mile away from their seats. The goal here is to move away from the negative image of a salesperson. We have to understand that most of our friendly gatekeepers would be instructed to brush you off nicely in any way possible to get you off the phone.

Dropping in without an appointment is ALWAYS AN INTERRUPTION and so therefore a withdrawal from the person’s emotional bank account…so be prepared with a really good deposit — whether it is your “sunny disposition” or your genuine interest in the first person or subsequent person(s) with whom you speak. In sales, as it is in life, the successful person follows the edict: A B C — Always Be Curious — if you thought I was going to say “Closing” for the C, then you are focusing on the end and not the opening…Curiosity allows you the opportunity to use the most important words in sales: “You and Your”. By using these words consistently in your responses to your potential customers, you will stay customer focused and not product centered.

I strongly recommend with respecting where the gatekeepers are coming from and gaining their trust is huge advantage. They’re just like any other employee who may actually be having the worst day in their careers. People respond in kind and if you sound genuine enough, you’d may get a genuine response. The key is to have a new mindset to achieve the goal. You don’t kiss on the first date, do you? So, on a cold call “you never sell anything”, your goal is to gain a favorable position to set yourself as a solution worth looking into.

Catching the early morning call for the owner or a late call in the afternoon just before the office closes is the best method to increase your contact rate. Prospecting is a contact sport the more contacts you make, the more decision makers you can reach, and the higher probability of closing a deal or selling your product.

Understand that the goal here again, is not to “SELL”, your goal is to maintain a good relationship with anyone who primarily picks up the phone for their business. I would use my first 5 seconds on the phone like this:

“Hi! My name is Jay, I was wondering if you can help me out for a second? (Pause and wait). 80% would say “How can I help? 

The situation branches out from here and would depend on how his/ her response felt. There’s only two outcomes here either their suspicious adamant in asking the the purpose of the call or you may get a warm response.

Either way I always ask this question: I was wondering if your company would be “open” to the idea of looking at some issues related to (whatever services are offered e.g. recruitment or staffing needs, Office supplies, etc.)? 

*DO NOT IMMEDIATELY JUMP INTO A PRESENTATION after they ask you any type of question that would indicate interest. They are not confirmed decision makers and asking you the right question at the right time will get you the right answers, now is not the time to do a presentation.

*You’ll also get a lot of resistance at this point and again remember your not selling anything. Your merely just trying to see if it’s a fit. If you receive any resistance and it pertains to you cold calling them to sell something. Do not feel offended it causes aggression and may lead you to defend yourself and be persuasive (another negative impression you want to avoid.) You can do anything to address this type of resistance, but I always address this with:

“I’m sorry if I came across in anyway like I’m selling you something. That’s the last thing I wanna do and try to convince or persuade you otherwise. I was just wondering if you guys would open, that’s all. Is there better way that I can position myself to present some solutions that can potentially save operational costs in you business and ultimately solve some issues regarding (services offered)? 

If successfully establish your purpose, they normally loosen up and help out or just nicely and bluntly turns your down. At this point you need to find the right direction to the decision maker and work a little bit of charm or else they’ll give you the run around and ask you to callback or something. Making someone laugh normally works for me, but here where your personal touch comes in and attempt to sell yourself and not the product or service that you offer. The genuine intent of not chasing the end goal of the sales process, also helps on moving on to the next call. Remember don’t be afraid to walk away if it’s not a fit. It may not even be worth it in the end. You may end up spending more on time wasters than qualified clients. Good luck and happy selling!