Ahhhh the infamous gatekeeper. The holder of the keys and the bosses schedule. The one who decides who gets to go beyond the proverbial curtain and see the wizard… too much? Gatekeepers, we all know them, we all struggle with them at times, and in fact, at some point or another we all are one of them. Gatekeepers are an integral part of companies and when they do their job well, they save the person they work with a lot of wasted time and effort.
The question to ask yourself, especially in sales, is how do you get past the gatekeeper, especially when there is one of those convenient no soliciting signs?
What I have seen and experienced work best is when we create a point of connection. To do that, you need to be incredibly observant of your surroundings and the non-verbal cues that individual is giving. To create a point of connection, as you are walking up to that persons desk and starting a conversation, you need to see if there is anything that can be a connection that you can talk about. If there is a picture of their dog on the desk, you can start bringing up their pet and ask questions. You also need to have questions prepared that will help you to go beyond the surface and get you some real information. What I mean is that you don’t just want to find out the dogs name, you also want to see if it has a favorite toy or treat. Once you are loaded with that information, as you follow up with that office again in a couple weeks, you come in to talk to Carol about her dog and you hand her a present for her fur baby that ends up being their favorite kind of toy. As you begin creating this good will and influence with this individual, you are making lots of relational deposits so that when you eventually go for the ask, it doesn’t feel like much of a draw on the relationship because you have already given so much.
If there are not any pictures to draw some data from, you have to be armed with some general questions that will lead to uncommon commonalities. Not only that, you have to realize that surprisingly enough, they don’t want to spend all day with you. That being said, getting past the gatekeeper takes time. As you focus on forming a genuine connection instead of getting past them, opportunities to do just that will start to pop up. Maybe instead of dropping off just your business card, you stop on by with a handful of gift cards for a local restaurant or coffee shop for the gatekeeper to use and share with others in the office. Maybe you bring by handwritten thank you cards. Maybe you don’t go straight for the person who you eventually need to meet, but instead you start to meet other people of influence at the company like the people who run the warehouse. Remember, the person you think you need to meet may not actually be the one to get you the business.
Think about doing business differently and start thinking about how you can form common points of connection that just may lead to the opportunity for you to make a sale.